Monday, August 13, 2007

Review: B&H Summer 2007 catalog

So I decided to write my first 1001 noisy review. That was the first step. The next step was deciding what to review: If I attempted to write a detailed digital camera review like dpreview it would probably take me ten years. Clearly, camera reviews were ruled out. So what else? How about something easier to review? How about the B&H Summer 2007 catalog for my first ever 1001 noisy review? And so I did! I kid you not, this is a serious review. I am not trying to pull a Ken Rockwell. This is not the Colbert Repor(t) for cameras!

Review: B&H Summer 2007 catalog

  • Interesting Catalog factoid: The catalog is 420 pages long, and the street address for B&H's store is also 420. Coincidence? If this was by design, it was a smart move by B&H :-)
  • I am only going to review the camera and photo aspect of the catalog since this is mainly a camera blog.
  • The catalog starts with a Specials segment, spotlight DSLRs from Canon, Nikon and Pentax and Sony, along with compacts from Olympus, Canon, Panasonic, Sony and Nikon. Also in this section: digital photo frames, two pages on lighting, two pages on tripods, and two pages on bags and backpacks
  • The Photography section starts on page 137 and is 90 pages long. First non-DSLR cameras are presented, with each (major) manufacturer getting 1 or 2 pages depending on the size of their camera line-up. The top half of the page is filled with tempting pictures of the cameras, while the bottom half has a detailed list of accessories and prices. Camera prices in general are not shown (and that is a good idea since camera prices change over time, while accessories are not as volatile price wise). Following those there is one page each devoted to rangefinders and Leica. Then the SLR segment begins, featuring DSLRs, SLRs and lenses. First is Canon, then Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Sony, Sigma and Tamron taking up most of the space. Then the medium format segment begins with Hasselblad, Mamiya and Pentax. After that Large Format has a couple of pages.
  • Then it's accessories parade: Flashes, light meters, scanners, software, printers, ink, darkroom supplies, film, filters, tripods, bags, and underwater, among many categories. Each page is filled with products and pictures of products. You can get a good sense of the various product options by looking at the page(s) of each category. Obviously you cannot expect to learn everything about a product from a short description!
  • Following that we have the Lighting segment, 17 pages long, featuring all sorts of lighting equipment and accessories.
  • This covers the items directly related to photography. Some of the other broad categories featured: Optics (eg binoculars), camcorders and prosumer video, blank media, televisions, home audio, professional video, cables, computers, software, home and portable entertainment, and lots more.
  • Summary: Overall this is a very nicely done catalog, with lots of pictures to look at. If you are addicted to electronics, you won't be able to put it down easily. And hide your credit cards! Apart from the nice pictures, it also has detailed lists of accessories for cameras, with prices.
  • Controversy: In order to keep the review fair and balanced, we have to deal with the elephant in the room. We are talking of course about pixel font size. I know it's a very controversial topic, so please read this with an open mind! Some people prefer smaller fonts because you can put a lot more information on the page. A smaller font is not necessarily a bad thing, they say. Overall you get more information on the page and that's what matters. They also point out that smaller fonts nowadays are more readable than smaller fonts of a few years ago because of advances in printing science. On the other hand, other people claim that smaller fonts make the text harder to read, and while there is more text on the page, it's not as readable compared to larger fonts. They claim marketing is responabile for this because they push for more words per page, which is driving dynamic readability range down. They also point out that the page looks like it is crawling with ants. Also because the fonts are smaller and even closer to each other, there is increased "reader noise" causing a watercolor effect in the eye if looking at the page too closely.
  • Conclusion: Highly Recommended.
  • PS: This is a regular copy of the B&H catalog. I did not request a special review copy, so do not worry, the catalog is not running any special firmware customized for review purposes!


    henryp said...

    Thanks for your kind words. This is very gratifying and we're glad you liked the catalogue so well.

    Have you had the opportunity to see one of our more extensive genre-specific SourceBooks? Our Digital Photography SourceBook 2007 Edition, for instance is 700+ pages. Other SourceBook topics cover pro audio, 35mm film photography, AV presentation, home & portable entertainment, pro lighting, prosumer video, and pro video. Some are out of print, but pdf files are available from our website at
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video, Inc.

    1001 noisy cameras said...

    Hi Henry,

    Thank you for reading my "noisy" review and thanks for your comments!

    The genere-specific Sourcebooks are a great idea for future noisy reviews! I'll keep them in mind.