Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It is the Golden Age of the Camera ...

... Review.

Cameras are all amazing these days, which frees the reviewer to write whatever he likes. (Are there any female camera reviewers out there?).

If you want to write a negative review, you complain that the menus are laid out illogically, or that the wheel on the bottom left of the camera cannot be programmed to select which of the 17 exposure modes (all of which are smarter than you) to use for the next shot. You complain that the shutter button doesn't feel solid. You have to complain about little shit, because the important stuff is all awesome but luckily there's a lot of little shit, and with some practice you can make it sound important. (even menu layouts, I promise.)

If you want to write a positive review, you point it at a cell phone tower miles away and point out that it resolves a lot of detail, and you gloss over all those ugly details about how you can't program that one wheel.

Do you want to position yourself as an Ultimate Image Quality guy? Great news, every camera delivers Ultimate Image Quality, and you can talk about how to squeeze the best out of this camera (buy an insanely expensive lens, use a tripod, but then you can go on about how to turn off image stabilization or something to make it sound like you're contributing something). Toss in some test shots that show us nothing, and you're done.

The reason all reviews seem to be simply a regurgitation of specs with a slight gloss of personal experience is that there's literally nothing to say. The specs are the specs, and the camera is superb. Yes, it'll take the pictures you want. The only things that matter are whether it has a plug for this whatsit, or that. If you need to plug a whatsit in, make sure to buy a camera with a whatsit plug.


So reviews become purely about marketing the reviewer. Are you a thoughtful and honest blogger? Than slag most everything to prove that you're not carrying water for the manufacturers. Of course, "slagging" is going to come down to stupid trivialities, because the cameras are universally amazing. Do you want to get invited on press junkets? Positive reviews, my friend, positive reviews (and you can even be honest, because the cameras are amazing.) Don't forget to slip in a few minor gripes to keep up the veritas.

I'm going to make a specific and singleton exception for Kirk Tuck here. He actually uses the thing, which is a nice change of pace, he tends not do follow the formula, and he will actually tell you about the whatsit plugs and why they are or are not, important to him. An actual working professional has a lot of whatsits to plug in, and whatsit plugs are actually important. Plus which, he doesn't try to rationalize his love or non-love for a piece of gear with a bunch of technical BS. Love is OK, love is great, just don't try to tell me it's because the buttons are the wrong shape.

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