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Discussion in 'AP Magazine Feedback & Suggestions' started by beejaybee, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    Was that in the pre-digital era Mark? Times and, more importantly, readers have certainly moved on since then.
  2. mark_jacobs

    mark_jacobs Retired

    Well Barney I recall laying out the first (consumer) AP digital test, without checking, possibly a Casio QV-10. That would place it in '95. Stewart passed away in '03. How much DSLR, lens testing took place in between I couldn't say.

    Hence my question :)
  3. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I only read reviews when I'm 'in the market' and that's not often. The point of that remark is that my views may be out of date - so bear with me and don't whack me.

    I too like mixed reviews. I enjoy a bit of the technical stuff but need the everyday stuff. I too like pictures large enough or cropped enough to actually show what it is that's meant to be the point.

    I want any apparent anomalies explained. An example is probably the best way of explaining what I mean. Many ,many years ago there was test of similar lenses by different manufacturers. It was the days of showing the 'resolution graphs'. The lens from manufacturer A beat the lens from manufacturer B at every point on the graph. The lens from B was rated higher than A. I never understood why, despite writing in and asking. If it was a mistake then fine - say so. If it was done for a reason - say so. I've seen other apparent anomalies too (but none so glaring) and usually have been able to work out why. There are often clues in the text. What I'm saying is make such explanations explicit.

    Finally I would like to see the faults in any camera made explicit too. My own camera has what to me is a dreadful high ISO performance. The reviews I read certainly did mention the high ISO performance but none of them prepared me for just how bad it is. I know that some of what I've said is subjective but somehow that's what a reviewer needs to get across.

  4. BrianWall

    BrianWall Well-Known Member

    I agree with Mick above and he repeats my request for comparison images to be printed larger so they are actually useful! Yes, I know this could easily eat up precious editorial pages which have to be paid for but that is the editors problem!!

    I like as much technical detail as there is room for even if I don't understand all of it. It also needs explaining though. Basically, reviews need more space to accommodate our wish lists and as I say, that costs.
  5. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    I read reviews when I'm not in the market, and for products I'd never want to buy for a few reasons. Mostly it's out of genuine interest in what's out there in the market, but a very important by product is that you get to know the reviewer and his or her foibles.

    I think it's a folly to look at one review in isolation. By knowing the idiosyncrasies of the reviewer you'll get a better understanding of whether his or her approach to equipment is the same to you. If they consistently mention poor handling of one brand of DSLR that you get on with particularly well, you know to disregard that part of the review. Likewise, if they seem to rate small differences in IQ higher than you would that helps to put the review in context.

    I'll add a few of things with regards to photographic reviews in general, one a pet hate and others things I'd like to see looked at in much more detail.

    The pet hate is the waste of copy space in seemly regurgitating the product brochure at the start of the review. The monthlies seem to be particularly prone to resort to this churnalism.

    The missing element is dynamic range. I'd like to see comparative data on this, particularly on how it is affected by increases in ISO. The available latitude in an exposure is one of the areas the manufactures haven't seemed to cotton on to as being a potential area to set themselves apart yet. Fuji hailed the X100 as having an 'increased dynamic range' but I was unable to find out how much higher it was.

    Another important factor that doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves is how different converters handle the raw files of a camera. I would say that comparing standard conversion through the manufacturer's software, Adobe Lightroom/Camera RAW, Capture One and Aperture should be standard practice. After all, the raw file is just that, and converters have their own idiosyncrasies too will will affect the final outcome.
  6. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    I'd much rather have the full raw files available for download. This would be far more useful than printing full page at 100%.
  7. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    Also, any issue like this has to be put into context. High ISO performance is hugely affected by the quantity and quality of light. Someone shooting in dimly lit clubs under red stage lighting at high ISO will have a different experience to someone shooting outside in bright sunshine at the same ISO speed.
  8. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    But also enormously by operating temperature and the software used to process the image!
  9. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    It's no use bringing in all the possible variables.

    My camera is poor at high ISO under any circumstances and the fact is that no review prepared me for it.

    I also disagree with Barney about 'getting used to' a reviewer. When I was last in the market I found and read lots of reviews in places and magazines that I wouldn't normally see or buy. No chance of learning the foibles of a reviewer. I admit that I guess lots of people are the same - especially 'newbies'.

    In any case isn't there an argument that a review should be subjective. Impossible probably but I would hope that if Tharg noticed a particular consistent slant in the reviews then he would do something about it.

  10. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    You can certainly get a rough idea from reading a selection of reviews, but it's just that, a rough idea. If you don't know what the reviewer's preferences are, how can you tell whether or not to give their opinions any credance?

    No matter how objective a reviewer tries to be, they're only human, and will always show some degre of bias, not towards manufacturers necessarily, but in terms of use of the equipment and what they look for in it. Their impressions and conclusions can be totally valid, but unless you know whether the way they view equipment is in line with you, and if not in what way it differs, any review they write is significantly less useful.
  11. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    Out of interest, what camera is it Mick and what do you call 'high'?
  12. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    To answer your other post first.

    It's a Sony A900. It's native ISO seems to be 200 and it's fine. 400 is OK - just. I try very hard indeed to avoid 800 and won't even try above 800. Now I admit that I'm super critical and others might well come to different conclusions. However a good review should have given me the information to draw my own conclusions - maybe your idea of providing downloadable RAWs.

    I still believe that a good reviewer should recognise potential bias and do everything to eliminate it. I also recognise that we are 'paying' a reviewer for his expert knowledge and opinion so it can't be entirely objective.

    Another example from many, many moons ago. AP ran a group test that included a Canon a Nikon and a Minolta. The models don't matter. At the end of the test the Minolta came last because, according to the reviewer, the handling was awkward. He didn't explain why the handling was awkward or why the handling on the others was better. Now for someone using that review and seeing that camera come third out of three based entirely on a subjective issue (scores were awarded and the other camera attributes were scored equally) seemed to me to be wrong.

    I also admit that I had a vested interest because I bought that model and found it one of the easiest handling cameras I'd ever used - more subjectivity.

    If I had written the review I might have said something along the lines of:

    "I found the handling awkward because these important buttons were too close together (or somesuch)"

    I suppose that it's a bit like the arguments that we had about "value for money".

    Anyway don't listen to me. I'm too logical and admit it.

  13. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I thought that I would attempt to demonstrate what I was on about with the ISO of my camera.

    The image below is a very crude test. I don't claim that it's scientific but it does, more or less, represent real life. Each file was taken from my seat in front of the computer and is of a map on the wall in front of me. Camera on programme and the ISO set manually to the number shown in each quadrant. The top left quadrant suffers from camera shake.

    Each quadrant is a 400 by 400 pixel crop from the image at 100% and I have made a small levels adjustment to the flattened image. No other work in P'Shop.

    Now you give me your opinions.



    PS Just realised that the 'test' is not even as good as I thought. I just looked more closely at the map and see that the printing is quite crude and is already quite 'spotty'. Doh!!!!
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  14. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    And the focus iis more of an issue than the noise!
  15. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    Of course, but they'll still have their own preferences and opinions on what matters most, there's no getting away from that fact.

    Also, copy spaced is limited. A reviewer may want to expound on the placing of certain buttons but unless it is relelvent to enough readers and there's enough room to do so he or she will have to resort to a generalisation.
  16. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    Well I can see why you're underwhelmed given the cost of the camera and the equivilent models available from competitors.

    Out of interest I did a quick search to see what reviewers had said and found this from a three way comparison review by WDC:

    That paragraph is a total waste of time. Vague terms such as "higher settings" are meanless. To me, higher settings are 3200 and 6400, to someone else they could anything over 400.

    Given that the D700 sensot was the class leader and the 5D II was also highly reagrded for high ISO performance, I can see why someone reading this review wouldn't have too much cause for concern with the A900 lagging behind, especially when you consider its much higher pixel count.

    Larger sized reproductions wouldn't help, there's only so much room in a magazine, especially when multiple cameras are being compared, so downloadable raw files would be the only way for readers to be able to judge for themselves at a range of ISOs. The magazines would benefit from directing readers to the online resource too.
  17. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I have realised a few things and have a question.

    First don't look at the blue in the examples (the sea) what you see is mostly poor quality printing of the original map.

    The 'white' bits are where to look.

    The question. OK I wasn't too careful about focus or camera shake. Does it make any difference when I'm looking for noise in plain areas? Sorry if that's a dumb question.[lies] Although I know everything there is to know about film [/lies] I still don't know much about digital in the technical sense. ;)

  18. BrianWall

    BrianWall Well-Known Member

    I'm afraid the test isn't of much use Mick for the reasons you state. It needs to be a neutral plain background and using a tripod for consistency. Be very interesting to see a second attempt.
  19. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    But if the placement of those buttons is the ONLY reason that a camera comes third out of three don't you think it important that the reviewer is seen to justify a decision that might knock the sales.

  20. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I'll have a go - but not until tomorrow.


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