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A Deep Thought On Camera Reviews Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

8 March 2019

It's always interesting to hear what pros like about their gear and, as in today's Horn, what made them switch from one brand to another. One reason it's interesting is because the discussion reveals what really matters (gear-wise) when you're trying to take photographs.

At Photokina. Nothing can replace handling the camera.

Our Lightroom catalog informs us that we've shot with 277 cameras. We used to review the things. And it was tedious, unrewarding work.

At a certain point, there was little to distinguish one digicam from another except to the extent that the marketing departments had engineered the feature set. They worked hard at it while the smartphone guys invested in computational photography and obliterated them and their catch phrases.

Listening to Kelby and Sammon in the video we linked to earlier today, it's almost amusing to hear how they jumped from Canon to Nikon and back again. And back once more.

Our Lightroom catalog informs us that we've shot with 277 cameras. We used to review the things.

The big issue wasn't the gear but, as Kelby tells it, selling off the old stuff to buy the new stuff. In fact, there was no image quality penalty involved. Hasn't been for years.

The benefit, instead, was the user experience. A better feel to the camera body (Sony got slammed here) or more useful thumb wheel (Canon took top honors). Those "little things" make a difference in the field.

What didn't make a difference, Kelby laughs, is having two card slots. Who counts their card slots?

As a reformed camera reviewer, we're happy we never pretended those things mattered. We'd list them because they might matter to someone but we'd never argue for or against them.

But we had our squabbles over menu systems (Sony and Olympus flunked) and button placement (we still take inadvertent videos on our Olympus). Those things matter when you're taking pictures.

The problem with this is that you won't appreciate those differences by reading a review. You only find out when you've got the camera in your hands. And that's usually after you've bought it online for a discount.

What you really should do is put any brand preferences in a drawer and go down to a camera store to handle the cameras that fit your budget.

And the irony there is that this service has, for the most part, vanished with the demise of both the brick-and-mortar experience and trade shows. Because even when people did bother to handle the cameras at a store, they'd buy online.

Online camera reviews generate clicks and clicks generate revenue if increasingly less so. But you can save yourself a lot of time by skipping them.

Check the specs and rent a few candidates if there's no handy place to patronize. You'll be glad you did.

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