Monday, February 7, 2011

Useless Camera Reviews

I just read a review of the new Olympus XZ-1 enthusiast compact. Reviews for it are very positive, with everyone commenting on how the lens is truly a cut above every other compact on the market. Unfortunately, the ISO performance is a cut below all of the other high-end compacts.

What annoys me is how photo review sites gloss over negative aspects of cameras. As with the Olympus E-5, the refrain from the review sites was "it's a great camera, if only its price was a little lower." A little? Just say what you're thinking and we're all thinking, it's a great camera for $1,000. For $1,700 with no lens, it's terrible. A Hyundai Accent is a great car, unless they tried charging $50,000 for it, then it becomes terrible.

As it is with this new compact. They talk about how ISO 1600 is only borderline usable for Facebook-style sizes, and 3200-6400 are useless. But they always say "but don't worry about this, since you won't be using these ISO's much." Screw off! I and everyone I know would use every drop of ISO allowed us. At night, even a decently-lit room requires ISO-1600 to achieve acceptable shutter speeds. Stop glossing over glaring problems with products in an attempt to please sponsors!

Reviewers are essentially critics, and they're meant to be critical. Don't point out issues, then immediately backpedal. Don't tell us to not worry. Tell us the cold, hard truth about a product and let US decide whether we need to worry about an issue or not.


This equally applies to websites that simply never mention problems at all and just wax poetic about everything that they get their mits on. Cnet was REALLY bad in this regard. They used to employ a 1-10 scale, where 5 was average. You would then expect all product reviews to average together to, I dunno', five? You would expect that. And you would be wrong. They averaged together to somewhere between seven and eight. That means that they're either lying, or they're not doing real reviews. Cnet didn't help its credibility when, for years, they would list retailers rated at up to five stars. You would, again, expect that this meant that people had really great experiences with these sellers. Again, you'd be wrong. All the star rating meant was that the seller met certain criteria. It had nothing to do with quality. Included in their list of five-star sellers was an army of "Brooklyn Camera Shops."

Those shops are no longer listed. Cnet now has only top-flight, big brand sellers. But we're still talking about a website that, for quite some time, had no problems sending its readers to websites that were borderline frauds. That sort of thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

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