Reviews: when Dave, Phil, Steve don't agree - comments?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by CR Optiker, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. CR  Optiker

    CR Optiker Guest

    When I first began looking on the web for digital camera reviews and
    testing, I first found Dave's Imaging-Resource site, and was very pleased
    with it, and often recommended it. Then I learned about Phil's dpreview
    site, and was again pleased because one often covered a new camera that the
    other hadn't yet included, and their insights were not necessarily the
    same. Finally, I recently became acquainted with Steve's digicams, and
    while I haven't been using it long, I am impressed with the level of
    information. I fnd all three good and useful, however...

    Over a period of time, I've come to think of Dave's Imaging-Resources as a
    good quick first look if for no other reason than I've used it longest, so
    know where to look for what I want. However, I've also come to expect few
    if any negative comments. While I haven't read every word of every review,
    I'm not sure I've ever read a harsh word about any camera.

    Not long after starting to use Phil's dpreviews, I found that at times, he
    did have negative comments, so I came to think of his reviews as being a
    bit more critical, maybe a bit more realistic.

    I haven't been using Steve's site long enough to know for sure, but I have
    the impression that perhaps he's someplace in between Dave and Phil.

    The reason I'm posting this is because I'm finding some differences among
    the three reviewers mentioned above and am intersted in knowing how others
    "calibrate" the reviews.

    For example, In comparing the Minolta Dimage A1, all were fairly impressed
    with the camera overall. All seemed to consider it excellent bang for the
    buck. However, image quality seemed to be a point of difference. Looking at
    the conclusions of each reviewer...

    Dave rates it very high... " Image quality is excellent as well, with high
    resolution, very good color, appropriate saturation, and contrast and
    saturation controls that cover a useful range in fine steps. (The odd
    "speck" artifacts I saw in the resolution target images didn't appear in
    any natural subjects I shot, so I'm not giving the camera bad marks for
    them here.)

    Steve also likes it, but... "Our outdoor test shots were sharp,
    well-exposed and richly saturated, although there was a noticeable amount
    of noise present in the darker areas of exposures even at ISO 100." He was
    disappointed in the tracking, but impressed with the stabilization.

    Phil caused me to have second thoughts... "...I put a lot of weight for my
    final conclusion on image quality. And that's where this otherwise
    unbeatable package is let down, the DiMAGE A1 delivers just average (or
    below average depending on your opinion) resolution with a good smattering
    of moiré at resolution limits and some other artifacts which are clearly
    issues with the camera's internal processing, as they don't appear in RAW
    converted images. I truly hope that Minolta can address these issues and
    improve resolution either in a firmware update or in their next camera and
    receive the Highly Recommended rating such a package would deserve."

    I'd like to think that perhaps Phil is taking a more analytic approach to
    testing and test interpretation, and Dave, for example, perhaps a more
    subjective approach. Each has its place.

    What do y'all think...how do you weight these reviews when they differ?
    It's easy enough when they agree, but they don't always agree.

    Thanks for your patience in getting through this long ramble.

    Optiker
     
    CR Optiker, Nov 12, 2003
    #1
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  2. CR  Optiker

    FOR7b Guest

    >I'd like to think that perhaps Phil is taking a more analytic approach to
    >testing and test interpretation, and Dave, for example, perhaps a more
    >subjective approach. Each has its place.
    >
    >What do y'all think...how do you weight these reviews when they differ?
    >It's easy enough when they agree, but they don't always agree.
    >
    >Thanks for your patience in getting through this long ramble.
    >
    >Optiker
    >


    Look at the level of detail for the different test sites. Dpreview's detail is
    in a class by itself. How do you compare ultimate image quality in the other
    two sites without taking the word of the reviewer? Looking at sample pics only
    goes so far. In the dpreview reviews you can see the results of resolution test
    shots. I also don't see any bias in his reviews either, not that I'm saying the
    other two do. I think dpreview has by far the best review of digicams. Only
    drawback is sometimes cameras you would like to see a review for never get
    reviewed.


     
    FOR7b, Nov 12, 2003
    #2
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  3. CR  Optiker

    Ed E. Guest

    It's always a tough balancing act when you want to make an honest review and
    at the same time not bite the hand that feeds you.
     
    Ed E., Nov 12, 2003
    #3
  4. I think that Phil Askey's reviews on DPReview
    are the finest camera reviews I've ever seen.

    In fact, they may be the finest reviews of ANY
    product that I've ever seen.

    They're thorough, complete, careful, and filled
    with objective data.

    Everything else, in comparision, strikes
    me as hand-waving subjectivity.

    Stan
     
    Stanley Krute, Nov 12, 2003
    #4
  5. I read all the reviews that I can before making a major purchase. A pattern
    usually emerges ... for example, all the reviewers question the user
    interface or lack of certain features. Then, I balance the consensus
    against what it is most important for my intents. For example, camera xyz
    is not so hot for sports/action ... if that's not one of my needs, I
    discount that negative point.

    Last but not least, I like to handle the merchandise. Funny thing is though
    that I bought my last camera sight unseen because I was impatient. Turned
    out very good though, as I really like the camera (Canon Digital Rebel).

    For me, http://www.dpreview.com is top drawer and I also factor that in.
     
    Charles Schuler, Nov 12, 2003
    #5
  6. CR Optiker <> writes:

    > What do y'all think...how do you weight these reviews when they differ?
    > It's easy enough when they agree, but they don't always agree.


    You've raised a key issue. I read movie reviews, but when I see a movie
    reviewed I may want to see, I read the byline to see who did the
    review. After reading reviews awhile, I have a feel for who agrees with my
    tastes _generally_. Same with reviews of cameras; as you have found,
    reasonable people have different opinions on the same camera.

    Fortunately, I can go to a movie and find that the reviewer and I
    disagreed, and I get the popcorn, soda, and an evening out, having spent a
    more-nearly modest sum for the lesson. Unfortunately, you can't go buy a
    bunch of gear to see who's view suits you.

    My suggestion is to base your reading of the reviews on your own
    experience. If the reviewers all mention a quality that suits your needs,
    see what they have to say. It may be that a negative mention has no
    application to your needs, so who cares about the digital clock in the
    camera, for one example. When I was in school, the teachers tried to teach
    something called 'critical reading,' and I think that's what you have to do
    with all the reviews. Each probably contributes something to your pool of
    knowledge, but then you have to put it all together and get something out
    of it.
    --
    Philip Stripling | email to the replyto address is presumed
    Legal Assistance on the Web | spam and read later. email to philip@
    http://www.PhilipStripling.com/ | my domain is read daily.
     
    Phil Stripling, Nov 12, 2003
    #6
  7. I tend to read dpreview and skip the others, unless (a) dpreview doesn't
    cover that camera, or (b) I want to collect *all* the available
    information on a particular camera.

    Dpreview just has more tests that are as objective as possible - the
    resolution test, flare test, geometry, etc. And he shoots many of the
    same test subjects with each camera, so I can download them and compare
    them for myself. He exhaustively lists operating features, too.

    If I want to compare geometry tests, or resolution tests, it usually
    only takes a minute or two to find the relevant pages in the dpreview
    tests, download the images, and look at them for myself.

    Dave
     
    Dave Martindale, Nov 13, 2003
    #7
  8. CR  Optiker

    Christian Guest

    Who cares what the reviewer thinks? You can ignore Phil's conclusions
    completely if you don't want to get confused. Just look at the results!
    When you have side-by-side pictures from similar spec cameras, there is
    always a difference and usually one is slightly (but noticeably) better.
    If you think one is better than the other in all the areas that are
    important to you then get it!

    (Having said that, I virtually always agree with what Phil says and thank
    god we have an independent reviewer who's actually willing to raise
    critical issues regarding the products he's supposed to be critically
    reviewing!)
     
    Christian, Nov 13, 2003
    #8
  9. CR  Optiker

    Ron Hunter Guest

    CR Optiker wrote:

    > When I first began looking on the web for digital camera reviews and
    > testing, I first found Dave's Imaging-Resource site, and was very pleased
    > with it, and often recommended it. Then I learned about Phil's dpreview
    > site, and was again pleased because one often covered a new camera that the
    > other hadn't yet included, and their insights were not necessarily the
    > same. Finally, I recently became acquainted with Steve's digicams, and
    > while I haven't been using it long, I am impressed with the level of
    > information. I fnd all three good and useful, however...
    >
    > Over a period of time, I've come to think of Dave's Imaging-Resources as a
    > good quick first look if for no other reason than I've used it longest, so
    > know where to look for what I want. However, I've also come to expect few
    > if any negative comments. While I haven't read every word of every review,
    > I'm not sure I've ever read a harsh word about any camera.
    >
    > Not long after starting to use Phil's dpreviews, I found that at times, he
    > did have negative comments, so I came to think of his reviews as being a
    > bit more critical, maybe a bit more realistic.
    >
    > I haven't been using Steve's site long enough to know for sure, but I have
    > the impression that perhaps he's someplace in between Dave and Phil.
    >
    > The reason I'm posting this is because I'm finding some differences among
    > the three reviewers mentioned above and am intersted in knowing how others
    > "calibrate" the reviews.
    >
    > For example, In comparing the Minolta Dimage A1, all were fairly impressed
    > with the camera overall. All seemed to consider it excellent bang for the
    > buck. However, image quality seemed to be a point of difference. Looking at
    > the conclusions of each reviewer...
    >
    > Dave rates it very high... " Image quality is excellent as well, with high
    > resolution, very good color, appropriate saturation, and contrast and
    > saturation controls that cover a useful range in fine steps. (The odd
    > "speck" artifacts I saw in the resolution target images didn't appear in
    > any natural subjects I shot, so I'm not giving the camera bad marks for
    > them here.)
    >
    > Steve also likes it, but... "Our outdoor test shots were sharp,
    > well-exposed and richly saturated, although there was a noticeable amount
    > of noise present in the darker areas of exposures even at ISO 100." He was
    > disappointed in the tracking, but impressed with the stabilization.
    >
    > Phil caused me to have second thoughts... "...I put a lot of weight for my
    > final conclusion on image quality. And that's where this otherwise
    > unbeatable package is let down, the DiMAGE A1 delivers just average (or
    > below average depending on your opinion) resolution with a good smattering
    > of moiré at resolution limits and some other artifacts which are clearly
    > issues with the camera's internal processing, as they don't appear in RAW
    > converted images. I truly hope that Minolta can address these issues and
    > improve resolution either in a firmware update or in their next camera and
    > receive the Highly Recommended rating such a package would deserve."
    >
    > I'd like to think that perhaps Phil is taking a more analytic approach to
    > testing and test interpretation, and Dave, for example, perhaps a more
    > subjective approach. Each has its place.
    >
    > What do y'all think...how do you weight these reviews when they differ?
    > It's easy enough when they agree, but they don't always agree.
    >
    > Thanks for your patience in getting through this long ramble.
    >
    > Optiker


    I have found that ALL reviews are colored by the subjective evaluation
    of the reviewer, and his personal likes/dislikes, and needs. Several
    reviewers faulted the camera I bought on its poor low light performance.
    This didn't deter me in any way, since I rarely try to take a picture
    at night. Some reviewers get pretty caught up in their OWN needs and
    forget that personal preference has no place in a professional review.
    Just the facts, PLEASE!
     
    Ron Hunter, Nov 13, 2003
    #9
  10. CR  Optiker

    Ron Hunter Guest

    FOR7b wrote:

    >>I'd like to think that perhaps Phil is taking a more analytic approach to
    >>testing and test interpretation, and Dave, for example, perhaps a more
    >>subjective approach. Each has its place.
    >>
    >>What do y'all think...how do you weight these reviews when they differ?
    >>It's easy enough when they agree, but they don't always agree.
    >>
    >>Thanks for your patience in getting through this long ramble.
    >>
    >>Optiker
    >>

    >
    >
    > Look at the level of detail for the different test sites. Dpreview's detail is
    > in a class by itself. How do you compare ultimate image quality in the other
    > two sites without taking the word of the reviewer? Looking at sample pics only
    > goes so far. In the dpreview reviews you can see the results of resolution test
    > shots. I also don't see any bias in his reviews either, not that I'm saying the
    > other two do. I think dpreview has by far the best review of digicams. Only
    > drawback is sometimes cameras you would like to see a review for never get
    > reviewed.
    >
    >
    >


    I insist on ORIGINAL FILES from any camera so that I can evaluate the
    photo myself. Any reviewer that doesn't provide those won't get much
    credence from me.
     
    Ron Hunter, Nov 13, 2003
    #10
  11. CR  Optiker

    HRosita Guest

    Hi,

    My favorite review site is Steves-digicams.
    I might be wrong but Phil seems to have some personal dislikes about certain
    makes of cameras.
    When I check a review the sequence is:
    Steve
    Dave
    Phil
    Rosita
     
    HRosita, Nov 13, 2003
    #11
  12. CR  Optiker

    Sockmonkey Guest

    I am not so impressed with Steves Digicams. He has nothing bad to say about
    the Toshiba PDR 2300, but it is a terrible camera. The refresh rate on the
    display is very slow. It has a very hard time focusing if the subject is
    moving. And the pictures aren't very good.

    Look at the sample images
    http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/pdr2300.html

    The quality is terrible, but the review is gowing. I think he just reviews
    the specs on the box.

    Roland
     
    Sockmonkey, Nov 13, 2003
    #12
  13. CR  Optiker

    CR Optiker Guest

    On Wed, 12 Nov 2003 13:13:37 -0800, CR Optiker wrote:

    [stuff clipped]
    >
    > The reason I'm posting this is because I'm finding some differences among
    > the three reviewers mentioned above and am intersted in knowing how others
    > "calibrate" the reviews.
    >

    [stuff clipped]
    >
    > What do y'all think...how do you weight these reviews when they differ?
    > It's easy enough when they agree, but they don't always agree.
    >
    > Thanks for your patience in getting through this long ramble.
    >
    > Optiker

    Y'all...thanks for the excellent comments. I wanted to let this perc for a
    couple of days to give folks time to think about it and respond. I'll
    follow up here with just a few comments.

    My own educational background is in optical sciences, and my professional
    work is currently dominated by digital image processing and analysis, but
    with a pretty good sprinkling of optical systems design and optical
    nondestructive testing.

    Given that, you can see why I would appreciate Phil's more quantitative and
    objective reviews. However, there's also an artist's side to me, and an eye
    trained to pick out things in images that many folks might overlook, and to
    qualify what I see based on what I know about how the image was captured.

    The result of that is that I try to retain some flavor of the subjective.
    For my image analysis work, the technical aspects are extremely important.
    For my recreational photography, what looks good to my eye is more
    important than specs. Most folks don't understand how the specs translate
    into what they like to see much beyond soft focus has something to do with
    less resolution. They have no idea of what gamma and sigma are, that they
    are apples and oranges, let alone how they relate to how pleasing an image
    is or how they affect the mood of a picture. I think that's why this group
    sees so many newbies asking which camera they should buy. Personally, if
    I'm going to process an image, I want every bit of optical resolution I can
    get and a raw image. But, I'll probably end up with images a bit softer
    than most would prefer.

    If all reviews were comprehensive, and rigorously objective, we wouldn't
    need multiple reports - we'd just go to one report and pick and choose
    those things we are interested in and weight them according to our
    priorities. However, we don't have a complete set of objective information,
    so we need to compensate with appropriately understood and weighted
    subjective information.

    As pointed out, looking at several reviews, you tend to get something of a
    consensus. Points of disagreement and points identified by some and missing
    by others are flags indicating things best investigated more.

    I know I started this focused on Dave, Phil and Steve, but I was surprised
    that nobody mentioned user forums and their role. I've also tried to look
    at those, and when they are clearly split into pros and cons, I tend to
    look primarily at the cons to see if anybody is identifying an issue that
    might just be important to me. rec.photo.digital is good, but not focused
    on specific cameras with specific information.

    So, I guess the bottom line is that I appreciate the excellent responses,
    and I agree with just about all of them to some extent.

    Let me close by summarizing that the three reviewers each have something to
    offer. The more I use Phil's, the more I like it - thanks to my technical
    optics background and interests - but I still drop back to Dave's for some
    things, and am getting to know Steve's site better. If I have a non-optics
    friend asking about digital cameras, I send them to Dave's site and
    recommend some reading there for background, then click on "Dave's Picks"
    and the category they think fits them. The user forums asociated with the
    sites are useful to an extent. Once a short list is defined, there's no
    substitute for going out to a store near you and finding each one on the
    shortlist and "playing" a bit. Finally, a college prof colleague of mine
    when I used to teach usually took a pretty loose view of opinions by
    repeating a well known saying that loosly translated means something like
    "There's no explaining taste." It truly comes down to what suits me best -
    but, all those folks with hands-on experience sure help narrow the field
    and help minimize nasty surprises.

    Good discussion! Thanks!
    Optiker
     
    CR Optiker, Nov 13, 2003
    #13
  14. CR Optiker <> writes:

    > If all reviews were comprehensive, and rigorously objective, we wouldn't
    > need multiple reports - we'd just go to one report and pick and choose
    > those things we are interested in and weight them according to our
    > priorities. However, we don't have a complete set of objective information,
    > so we need to compensate with appropriately understood and weighted
    > subjective information.


    I'm sorry to say I just don't buy that. As I said in my earlier post, I
    read reviews of movies with who the reviewer is firmly in mind. I don't
    want a lockstep checklist of rigorously objective movie reviews from one
    robot, er, uh, person. I want to know how the camera feels in Joe Blow's
    hands, how easy it is to switch modes according to John Doe (who's
    left-eyed, like me), and whether Richard Roe thinks the useability of
    the controls meets a standard that he and I agree on, but which others
    dislike.

    --
    Philip Stripling | email to the replyto address is presumed
    Legal Assistance on the Web | spam and read later. email to philip@
    http://www.PhilipStripling.com/ | my domain is read daily.
     
    Phil Stripling, Nov 13, 2003
    #14
  15. CR  Optiker

    Jerry Nash Guest

    On Wed, 12 Nov 2003 21:44:38 GMT, Stanley Krute <> wrote:
    >I think that Phil Askey's reviews on DPReview
    >are the finest camera reviews I've ever seen.
    >


    Phil's reviews are good...till he gets to the "conclusions"
    and then he's just as subjective as anybody.

    Phil usually gives Canon cameras a +1 handicap right out
    of the gate.

    >In fact, they may be the finest reviews of ANY
    >product that I've ever seen.
    >
    >They're thorough, complete, careful, and filled
    >with objective data.


    Until he gets to the "conclusions" and then it's just
    all subjective opinion.
     
    Jerry Nash, Nov 13, 2003
    #15
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