It’s a simple question. When I read camera reviews on blogs, why are many of the sample photographs that some reviewers use so bloody awful?
You know what I’m talking about. Whenever a new camera review is posted on a blog or website someplace, it usually includes a series of sample photographs taken with that camera. For the most part, they all suck. I know some of these reviewers are simply writers, but many of them claim to be working photographers. Why don’t they use images that show off their talent?
I know some of these blogger/photographers are better than the images they show us. Instead, they show me nothing. A wife’s face, their kid, their dog, flowers on the dining room table, a view from their living room window. Wow, how exciting!
Many Review Photos Are Little More Than Snapshots
These guys spend countless hours going over every arcane detail in the camera’s software, every button, every menu item, examining in minute detail every subtle nuance in the design, but when it comes to taking a few photographs to show to the audience, they seem to be going through the motions, spending a few minutes and coming up with photographs that amount to nothing more than snapshots. (Well, at least the camera was level.)
When I read a camera review, I only want to see five photographs.
- One shot in broad daylight
- One shot on an overcast day
- One shot indoors
- One shot at night (ISO 3200)
- One shot of a fast-moving subject at wide aperture.
That’s it. I don’t need to see anything else (nor do I need to see extreme crops of the corner details). I know this little rant seems a bit picky since most camera buyers have very little experience. But I never read reviews for those cameras; I am simply not interested. What I am talking about are pro or prosumer cameras targeted for professionals and advanced amateurs. After all, if I am expected to evaluate the value the camera as a working tool, it would follow that I want to see how it performs in situations to which I can relate.
For instance, sometimes I see a night shot at ISO 3200 as one of the samples. It is usually a simple shot of a street at night. The reviewer puts on his hat, puts his dog on a leash, and steps outside with his review camera. As he walks the dog, he snaps a few of the street. Awesome! If he is going to show something taken at night, make it interesting. Put a person in the photo, go into a coffeehouse or bar, do anything except simply snapping the shutter the minute you step outside.
Useful Reviews Take Time and Effort
Since I am not famous and my blog isn’t visited by thousands of people a day, it’s unlikely that I will ever be asked to review a new camera from a major manufacturer. But if I were, I would do it like this: First, I would see what market this camera is targeted to. Then I would carry it with me for a few days and shoot 500-1000 shots with it in various conditions pertaining to the camera’s target audience. Then I would begin editing these shots and quickly get it down to 50 or so. Then I would wait a week or so and choose my final six or seven shots to include in my review. Then I would write about what I thought of this camera from the user’s perspective. That’s it. But that’s another story; and I might save that little rant for my next article.