25 Jan Trooping The Reviews
I cannot decide whether camera and lens reviews on the internet are a good thing or not. On one hand they could be the one way a remote photographer might be able to order their thoughts…then order the equipment…and happiness may ensue. Happiness if the buyer is at home for the 3.4 seconds when the courier appears at the front door.
On the other hand – for the serious student of the photographic press the very abundance of opinion may act as a source of confusion. Every writer wants to have a unique take on the gear, and there are only two ends to every lens… There is a temptation to wax lyrical, mystical, or fashionable just to get column inches out.
So, as a reader, what do you do? Read everything and believe it all? Ditto and believe nothing? Order one of everything? ( Yes, says the accountant…) Keep using your 1948 Ilford Ensign and ignore the world?
No. Troop the reviews and examine the reviewers. See what they know and have done before they hit that keyboard. If they are successful professional photographers with solid business success in a particular field…read their opinion in that field closely. It is likely that they know what they are saying. Likewise if they are recognised artists or teachers. Here the bookstore can be your friend – if a person has published a body of work in actual paper ist is likely that they are a real entity – not just a laptop dancer.
If somone is skiting a line, you can usually tell by the additional qualifiers and adjectives that they introduce into what should be a measurable statement. “Legendary “ and “ prestigious “ are good indicators that science has been abandoned for art, and as soon as ” value for money ” is mentioned you can be sure that commerce has taken over.
None of this may be wrong – there are prestigious and legendary products that are good value for money if you have a great deal of it. But beware of exchanging cash for the good opinion of the seller…it is a process that may never have an end.
Go look at the equipment in question and form your own opinion. In today’s market you are unlikely to get a camera that will burst into flames, so you can trust your own judgement as much as that of others without risking your eyebrows. Look through the eyepiece and press the button, then look at the results on your own screen. In you own time, if that can be arranged.
Note: This column always has the best ideas, and is modest about it. And if you pay extra I can go from modest to positively reticent.