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Tuesday, 21 March 2023


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I got a lesson from Amazon when I officially closed my account a couple years ago. Every digital video and kindle book I had “purchased” was no longer available. Only the unrestricted music I had bought was actually mine. The rest were long term rentals.

Support you local library and bookstores.

DPReview was a digital photography website and is linked to the digital photography market. That market crashes, DPReview follows.

Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part, but meanwhile photography websites do not appear to go anywhere (fingers crossed). I am thinking this blog, Lenswork, photo.net, Luminous-Landscape, etc..

Many people might see photo.net and Luminous Landscape as digital photography websites, but they are not. They existed and were relatively big before digital photography became practical.

Deliberate photography maybe is back to the niche it always was, but not weaker in my opinion. On the contrary, seeing the gorgeous portfolios LensWork keeps publishing, photography is doing very well thank you.

Completely agree that simply destroying all that information is unforgivable. It's a very rich repository that needs to be archived and accessible rather than erased without a care.

Archive.org does offer hope for preserving the content. https://web.archive.org/web/20230401000000*/DPreview.com

Revolutions devour their own children. DPReview was an early child of the digital revolution. It has been destroyed by digital developments in the performance of cameras that now all behave pretty much to the same standard, developments in smartphones, and the proliferation of other sources of information - e.g. YouTube. It also lost its way under Amazon, no longer systematically reviewing new cameras and lenses, but covering superficially a huge range of miscellaneous tat. I’ll miss it, but it’s main value is archival, not based on current activity.

This came right out of the blue. Nobody expected this I think. For all its faults the DPR forums were a great place to exchange ideas with like minded people from all over the world. I live in Italy, and I had a good rapport with a guy who lived in New Guinea for example.

The shear volume of users, meant a question might be answered in a few minutes. I have tried other forums but none came anywhere close to DPR for vibrancy.

I discovered DPR when I bought my EM5 in 2014. Apart from asking questions, I discovered the weekly image thread on the M43 Forum. I built up relationships with others over the years on that weekly thread. Then we discover just how we are at the mercy of these high tech leviathans as a whole set of acquaintances dissapears.

The decline in interest in camera based photography has been apparante for some time. Of late it was obvious traffic to that site was declining. Maybe the forum format has had its day too.

I believe a lot of other online photographic resources are having a hard time too. The written word seems to be out of fashion, as people want the easy option of listening and watching a video.

You say

The Internet is simply not a good repository for culture, information, and stored knowledge.

and this is well said. But it is far worse than this: computers are not good repositories for culture, information, and stored knowledge.

Why is this? Surely computer storage is simply ideal: once something is in digital form then, except for bit flips which are rare and many of them an be dealt with by error correction in well-designed storage systems, it remains entirely constant. If you look at a digital image on a screen then each time you look it is the same identical image: the bits are the same bits. This is not like storage which involves continuous-valued quantities: each time you shine light through a negative some of the photons will change the configuration of some of the atoms in the negative. When you do this for long enough or with blue enough light (do not view negatives under gamma-ray illumination) then it will degrade noticeably. And that is just light: if you store it in air then it is continually being eaten at by chemicals that are in air such as oxygen; if it is warm (or perhaps too cold) then thermal jiggling of atoms will slowly break bonds and so on and so on.

This is all just terrible compared to digital storage, yes?


All digital storage we use is built on machinery which has quite finite lifetime. Perhaps a disk might last for a decade or two, but beyond that it is likely to suffer catastrophic failure. Tape is similar. Flash memory I do not know but probably similar as well. Nobody is designing these systems to last much longer than the machines of which they are part, and almost nobody keeps computers running for two decades.

Well this is not a problem of course, because digital systems support easy, entirely faithful, copying. You just copy your old files onto your new storage every five years, the same way you keep copies up to date on your backup storage every hour or day, and your archive storage every month. It is easy: the finite life of physical storage does not matter. I have data I use which was written before I was born: it has the same identical bits today that it did in 1980, even though it has been copied very many times. Problem is solved, silly Zyni to worry.

Except, except. We must keep doing these copies: every five years we must copy everything to new storage, verify copies with checksums and so on. If we stop doing this, what happens? Nothing at first, but a few years later the old storage machines start to fail, and much sooner probably if they are off and the air-conditioning is off so the thermal and humidity environment is bad. And a few years later as their design life is exceeded they fail increasingly fast. And a few years later it is all gone: not degraded, gone without serious hope of recovery.

Compare with negative or print. Make it well, keep rain off it, keep it cool, keep nasty chemicals and rats away from it, and it will degrade ... slowly. And as it degrades it will become less like it was but still quite like it was. Even fail to do some of these things and it may still be mostly happy. Last month I looked at some magic lantern slides: they had lived in a cupboard in a damp church for more than a century. Most had some fungal trouble, some had much, but most were perfectly viewable.

Well, for a person what will happen to their digital images when they die? If they are famous somebody will keep up the copying. If they have descendants who care and understand they will keep up the copying. But for most the best thing is that their storage machines will be put in a cupboard where, a decade or two later, their content will become irretrievable.

And what will happen to the vast digital archives of data held by corporations and states? Do you, seriously, think that in a century we will be, as a civilisation, in a position to keep up the copying process? When Manhattan is under the sea? When a billion people have died from heat and starvation and several billion more have been forced to migrate? Of course we will not: all of it will be lost.

But somewhere people will be keeping the roof watertight and killing (probably eating, too) the rats in old buildings full of books and negatives and prints.

When I heard the news, I went to the site and read the official announcement. I then skimmed through Phil’s review of the Nikon 880, which I pored over before making the decision to buy it. It was my first digital camera purchase, over 20 years ago.

Seneca, being a stoic, will have practised “Last time” meditation, which helped nurture a better appreciation for things in the here and now. You never know when you’ll see or experience something for the last time

I've been a DPR reader for many years. Lately I find I go to see what Chris Nichols and Jordan Drake have posted and maybe a skim round the forums. I read PetaPixel for news; I think I prefer the latter's layout for that. Now Nichols & Drake have gone to PP, there's even less reason to visit DPR .... except those forums. They're huge and lively. I've had many a problem or question resolved by searching there. To lose them, and DPR's reviews history, would be a shame.

We all knew that the internet as a repository of knowledge is a terrible idea. As soon as the power is off, everything is gone. I wonder if Amazon had attempted to sell the website? Even if they sold it for a token amount, it would be a benefit for the people who use the site and for the photographic community as a whole.

One more thought: Mike, have you ever thought of publishing a book consisting of a selection of the blog posts found here on TOP? It could work!

I mean - too bad for you that you site was not bought by Amazon for several Million Dollars only to close you down after a few years.
Too bad for you, you could life a luxury life now, but very good for us - sorry.
We would miss your contributions.

April 10th is the last day I read. Pre digital I wonder how big serious enthusiast photography really was? When I was a kid my uncle Bob always had nice looking cameras in leather half cases. I don’t remember the brands but to my eye they looked expensive and my grubby little hands were not allowed anywhere near them. Everyone else had plastic point and shoots. It was the digital era that simplified serious photography. Sure there was a learning curve but not the same as serious film photography. My point is we are drifting back into a similar to the prior senecio. We who love it love it. We will survive.

Oh another thing about declining camera sales? Well quality 10 year old (and older) digital cameras still take wonderful photos so why trade up?

The current archive of DPReview in the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine is far from complete - for example, try to open individual forum threads.

Apparently another team is working on a new archive that will be available at the Internet Archive:


Remains to be seen how comprehensive it will be.

I think archive.org may be the answer.
In terms of obsolete technical info, I would be a lot more excited if someone were to make an archive of modern photography magazine available.

I was never a regular visitor to DPReview but often when I submitted a query to a search engine it would find an answer on DPReview. And many times the discussions would provide the information I was seeking.

I hope they find a way to make it a read-only archive.

I’m a journalist that spent the last ~twenty years working as a publisher of scientific and research papers and books and I can tell you that “the internet” is a major concern when it comes to historical preservation.

Books and written information from the 1600s can (and I hope, will) be preserved for future generations.

But what will happen with the massive amounts of data that’s currently stored ONLY in some company's servers?

In, say, 600 years from now, how could someone possibly see (and furthermore, trust) a digital file?

DPreview did a good service to the photo community and at the same time was a spark of hope, that the American business world is not exclusively about the money. That spark of hope has just been extinguished by Amazon. I won't be buying from this company anymore.

I have read people are working on archiving DPReview content. Unfortunately, we lose the forums. One of the nice things about the forums is the ability to ask a question that you might find difficult finding and answer for elsewhere on the net. You want to use a teleconverter on a lens that many might not think of using, then ask in a DPR forum. Often a few people have tried the combination and will give you their experience with the combination. Can't seem to find what you want in a camera's manual? A forum member will reply with something along the lines of "Sony uses a different term for that."

I have to mention the need to resist the siren call of smartphone cameras in instances where image quality makes a difference. I know a professional musician, she has albums and CD’s and online music released. I enjoy shooting her live performances with my mirrorless cameras, and processing raw files to post on social media. A social media site has numerous phone camera photos of her from other people. So guess who has requests for album cover art? And for publicity and press releases? My photos are on various news media. The best photos possible to support artists’ careers will never go out of style. And neither will the best tools for digital photography.

As a former contributing writer to DPReview.com ( https://www.dpreview.com/members/9562975128 for as long as that lasts) this is indeed sad, but also not unexpected. It was an expensive property to keep staffed, maintained, and humming along for a large, international crowd of folks who did not buy much of the aforesaid "digital photography" equipment from Amazon.com. Eventually, when the hammer comes down, it strikes the nails that stick up highest first (bad analogy, I know). And so it goes... but everything is temporary, even after 25 years. How do you think imaging-resource.com or dcreview.com are doing? Yes, the forum information will be lost, but typing in the void is fraught with peril. Someday this blog will shut down and Typepad will excise it from their servers, just as publishers stop making certain books or great voices of reason are silenced. Have a zen attitude and save your own work in a place those who might care can find it (as I have).

DPreview and iView MediaPro both created in England purchased by Amazon and Microsoft, both gone.
Mike please resist do not sell this site to Meta or Google no matter how many hundreds of millions they offer.

“The Internet is simply not a good repository for culture, information, and stored knowledge.”

Events like this make me think that future generations may come to see this current time as another “Dark Age”. Not because we lack technology but because evidence and artifacts of our times and technologies fail to survive.

In 100 years time, someone with the ability to brew up some synthetic gasoline might be able to fire up a car from the 1940’s or 50’s, but failed electronics of current cars will have long consigned them to the scrap heap. Looking at cameras, it is already a lot easier to fire up an old 1970’s SLR than a 10 year old DSLR for which the batteries, memory cards and cables are now discontinued.

Very sad to see DPreview go and all of the historical information lost. There is an iniative with a petition to preserve it: https://www.dpreviewarchive.com/

It's really a big loss. I started reading DPreview around 2000, and all my camera purchases have been done after painful comparisons on the site ;-). Also it's really a loss not having the site simply frozen, although I suspect it's not so easy (you need to have some sort of maintenance, at least to guarantee the right to remove personal data granted in most jurisdictions).

Just listened to The Daily episode about AO Scott stepping down from film criticism at the NYTs. Seems he can no longer combat the Marvel Universe and all of its fans. I would love if he retired to upstate NY and started a blog on film, put more Patreon money to good ends.

just occurred to me albeit late on the thread that amazon could always do the decent thing and convert dpr to a non profit. it might survive in that format.

Stuff on the internet is disappearing right and left, it seems. I had researched the (now ancient) history of the music programs in the school district in which I grew up. I had a reason to recall that research recently and went to look it all up again. Gone. Not a trace. Of course, I'm the idiot for not squirreling it all away.

Seems to me the more valuable content is, the more at risk it is. Worthless content will be kept forever because it costs so little to keep it around. The valuable stuff gets accessed constantly and costs a lot more to sustain. That makes it more vulnerable.

Too often, assets are disposed of because they compete with lesser assets the owner (for some reason) cares more about. Maybe Amazon wants their product reviews to be the sole responder to searches for camera reviews.

Bottom line: If you see something on the internet you want to keep, store it yourself somewhere under your own control.

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