Published December 17th 2020

Why I don't read DPReview anymore


And why my consumption of all photo related web content has actually declined to a fraction of what it used to be

DPReview back then
I used to read DPReview almost daily.
I used to use DPReview as an example of how to make web sites when I was teaching people how to make web sites.
I used dream about working for DPReview and followed their job offerings for several years after they changed from an enthusiast site driven by a single person to a professional, fully staffed, Amazon-owned operation. 14+ people when I started writing this!

I was – and still am – registered as a user, participated in forums, wrote and read comments and was overall positive and participating.
I can see from my profile that I posted more than 500 times in the forum, started almost 70 threads and was overall pretty active.
My last post was written in 2011.

I gave up.

At first I just browsed and didn't instigate dialog or reply to other posts. Then I stopped looking in the forums and just read news and reviews. Then I stopped reading news and these days I read a review now and then, most out of curiosity. And mostly old stuff, actually. Because in their archives DPReview still has some of the best ever technical assessments of almost any digital camera, and thanks for that!

DPReview history

DPReview was founded by British Phil Askey in 1998/1999 and he was the prime driving force, developer, editor, journalist and captain at the helm. The site was a fantastic resource and obviously one that the camera industry started respecting, because soon Askey was able to get his hands on review samples of most new cameras, and thanks to his very thorough and consistent reporting, the DPReview reviews were *the* reviews to consult when buying. Many of my buying decisions back then were based on his evaluations.
The site was probably a top 2-300 at the time (yes, worldwide, all sites, any subject included!) and is still in the top 1,000 in the US and top 1,500 worldwide according to Alexa. That is an amazing feat considering the narrow subject and the number of other gigantic and powerful players with a much larger audience base.
Amazon's acquisition of the site in 2007 has probably helped keeping it high, but people also come because of the excellent content. Subjectively the site still wins hands down when it comes to offering the best in-depth, quality content on the gear and tech side of photography.
DPReview is one of the few photo related web sites that have a Wikipedia entry. And well deserved too.

But I lost interest

But I lost interest, and for several reasons.
A man can only take so many megapixels, frames per second and AF points, and I honestly went kind of numb to the many numbers as the manufacturers kept pushing them up and up, and sites like DPReview loyally reported them, not questioning their relevance or usefulness at all.
I'm certain that new cameras are generally better than old ones, both because of better specs and for other reasons, but sometimes the numbers seem to be there only because they are larger than the numbers in the previous article.

DPReview does cover other aspects than specs, and have sometimes pointed out cameras that had some subjective qualities, which weren't measurable as such. But I would love if someone dared say “what an overdone, overdesigned, overimplemented, overequipped camera!” a little more often.
It is as I always say: you don't solve complex problems by adding complexity, but by simplifying, which is exactly the opposite of what the photo industry does.
Sites like DPReview follow troop, and by simply comparing and selecting based on features, they endorse such a development.
I salute a company such as Leica for having the courage to remove the LCD and preview from a camera or making a digital camera that shoots only B/W! Yay!

Comment diarrhea

I was also fed up with the never ending torrent of comments on DPReview. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love comments and generally consider well commented content better than content that stands alone. On some sites, the comments are oftentimes better than the article itself, the article just being the spark that ignites a fire of well written and knowledge laden comments.
That used to be the case on DPReview… sometimes. At other times the comments showed a glimpse of what they were becoming: endless streams of harmless banter, empty circular discussions or mean and obnoxious opinion. And the worst kind of them all: discussion about the discussion! People who were commenting on the commenters and the comment culture rather than the cameras and the photography.
Being as large as it is, the comments were of course also numerous, and comment threads on popular posts would grow to hundreds and even thousands of intricately weaved questions, replies, outbursts and opinions.
Letting the plebs loose on the site simply diluted the good content to such an extent that it’s become almost impossible to find.
Initiatives have been taken to harness this a bit but DPReview has basically experienced what almost any large discussion forum grows to experience: choking in visitors.

The brick wall crowd

The many uncontrolled comments also revealed the true nature of many DPReview readers. A surprising number of them shoot images of brick walls and look at them at 100% on a monitor!
That might not literally be the case, but man have I seen many a comment on a piece of equipment drown in discussions about resolution, vignetting, chromatic aberration and such utterly useless technobabble.
Of course the technical aspects count, and of course it’s a talk that needs to be taken, but 80% of those expressing their view seem to:
- not take pictures.
- always look at pictures on a monitor at 100%.
- not having actually handled the gear discussed.
- basically not know what they are talking about.

I get so tired of people not open to subjective qualities of things, not respecting that others love things as they are, not realizing that some of us like technically inferior solutions among other things because they are just that: inferior.

I stick to old versions

I got fed up

I used to read Petapixel, SLR Lounge, FStoppers, Nikon Rumors, DIY Photography, The Phoblographer, Feature Shoot and many more. I would follow the Strobist (David Hobby), read Joe McNally’s blog, Chase Jarvis’ blog, Zack Arias’ blog, Jared Polin’s stuff and keep up with the profiles in the business. I saw live streams from Creative Live, listened to podcasts, saw videos and altogether spent a lot of time engulfing photo related content.

I got fed up.

I haven’t bought a new camera since 2014 and stopped upgrading everything – even my software. I still use Photoshop 7 and Lightroom 6 (yes, the good old stand-alone versions!). And they both work like a charm.
I still shoot a lot. I enjoy using my gear. I love taking pictures.
But I got fed up with the features and megapixels race and the people talking about it.