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Tuesday, 29 July 2008


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Dear Mr Ctein, what pleasure it is to see such straightforward views. The world could do with a good deal less artifice and humbug.

I think most enterprises and (their clients)
benefit from open and candid dealings. It is SO obvious a fact, I wonder why so many folks still don't get it.

Ctein is hereby awarded the highly coveted LBP* award for this week.

Dennis F.

PS *Less Bullshit Please.
No... not Bull****! Here in Oz we say it like it is... obviously!)

While I'm in total agreement with your code of ethics in regard to product reviewing I'd be interested in your views with regards to Michael Reichman's treatment of his review of Leica's M8,when he thought fit to withold some of his findings in his review and pass them on to Leica instead.

Back in the day, Road and Track magazine wrote a lukewarm review of an Aston Martin DB6. 20+ years later one of their editors let it slip that the automobile was actually pretty bad.

It made me question the relationship between the media and the corporate interests they report about. For me they are too close for comfort. In general I don't believe either party.

Before the internet, I used to read European publications. Less advertising and more content. Yes, subscription rates were a little higher, but that, for me, was the price of honesty and truth.

Now with widely available reviews written by just about anyone (Amazon, DP Review, Fred Miranda, and many many others), a person has greater access to knowledge and information.

We no longer need to turn to the "All Knowing Few On The Industry Inside" as represented in the media for information and guidance.

I find this simple fact liberating.

One thing I like is that hi-fi magazines are constantly claiming that a certain piece of equipment "competes with models costing twice as much" (or words to that effect)--you run across it so often it's almost like it's on an unofficial checklist for a positive review. But you NEVER see the same magazine saying "competes with models costing half as much."


I also used to notice that Leica aficionados would never admit any shortcomings of any sort in Leica products, almost as if there were some sort of dire taboo against it...until Leica saw fit to offer a replacement, at which point the flaws in the predecessor model were suddenly okay to talk about. The result was that you seldom heard an honest appraisal about anything until an alternative came along.

Mike J.

I used to subscribe to a couple of car mags. I got a kick out of their supercar comparo tests, e.g., a $120,000 German supercar vs a $200,000 Italian supercar vs something else. The concluding paragraphs were always the same, "Well, these are all great cars in their own right..."

Yeah well, at those prices, they'd better be.

Those articles were a little like looking at Playboy mgazine, in the sense that they were showing you stuff that you'd never have yourself. Or not many of us, anyway.

Dear Michael,

As I said in my comment to the "Relationships" article of a few days back, I won't review betas because of intractable problems like Michael R's.

Had I been in Michael's position (and made the same error in understanding the cause of the problem, which would happen sooner or later, vis my previous comment), I'd have published, but it would have read something like, "I saw an odd magenta cast in some blacks. Likely this is a minor bug with the camera's color profile or software interpretation of the RAW data that I expect be fixed in the release product."

Absent a correct understanding of the problem, that would have been my/Michael's best guess. It would have still been wrong and not really protected any potential buyers from getting screwed over.

Publishing wrong info is not an improvement over not publishing wrong info.

pax / Ctein

I have written a handful of article with equipment reviews, and I find it rarely wins you friends. Reviews are tough. Even if you make maximum effort to remain unbiased and truthful as the writer, the articles do not always sit well with either readers or the manufacturer.

One of the issues that I increasingly face today is the reluctance of manufacturers to lend equipment for evaluation. In my opinion it has not helped that there are reviewers that have significant enough wealth to BUY the equipment they intend to review---doing so for the intent of providing unbiased reporting. While it may do so in their case, those of us that need to have equipment lent for review are then hard pressed to get our hands on it. I have experienced several prominent camera companies that now have expectations that the reviewer will BUY their camera system in order to review it.

The point is that there is no easy solution to reviews. But I do cherish the manufacturers that I have worked with over the years that are both concerned with their product quality and performance and are interested in long term relationships with writers and photographers. Though perhaps only one in twenty companies will be so thoughtful, it is a joy to work those that do.

Dear Pete,

Hmmm, I have not run into this problem. It's not something I'm glad to hear of.

Previously, I said of the practice of reviewers buying gear to test: "No harm done, but in my opinion not usually necessary either."

I'm revising that: It's not necessary and it's not good for reviewers.

In the future I will try to encourage the rich reviewers I know to not engage in this practice.

Thanks for the alert.

pax / Ctein

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