Monday, April 28, 2008

Who Reviews Digital Cameras?

That is a simple question on the surface, but the answer is actually very long when you dig into it! This giant post is broken down in different overlapping categories, but we had to draw lines somewhere, otherwise it would be totally unreadable. This is version 1.0 so it is very likely that some deserving camera review websites were not listed - this is unintentional. In such cases, please let us know in the comments section or via email. More on that at the bottom of the post.

Please note that because of our limited "linguini" skills we are only covering websites written in english.

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The Genre-Defining Big Six

These are the sites that in our opinion defined the genre of the photography review site back when digital cameras were breaking into the mass market. Just like the accounting big six, they are no longer six!

dpreviewThe most recognizable name in digital camera reviews, dpreview has grown in size and reviewers over time. The brainchild of Phil Askey earned its reputation for "IEEE Transactions" quality technical camera reviews. Now a part of the Amazon portfolio of companiesReviews
Imaging ResourceImaging Resource is the second most recognizable name in camera reviews on the internets, and is providing detailed technical reviews as well. One of the favorite features on their site is the Comparometer.Reviews
DC ResourceDC Resource has been consistently producing a steady stream of camera reviews, something that satisfies the always hungry camera-review audience. They are the only major site that publishes a very detailed review schedule.Reviews has been producing reviews for years, both in english and in french. Their reviews are more compact in size, making them a less intimidating read for the uninitiated.Reviews
Steve's DigicamsSteve's digicams has maintained a consistent review format, making them easy to consume for the average consumer.Reviews
A Digital EyeNo longer updated, and perhaps a sign of the times, as the last camera reviewed at ADE was the Sony R1. The end of two eras? Their last update was around PMA 2006.Reviews

The Experts

The experts are loosely broken down in two highly-overlapping categories, which we will call the "technical experts" and the "experiential experts". The first group approaches reviews more from a technical point of view, the second one approaches equipment reviews as tools of the trade. The list below is not ordered.

Thom HoganA Nikon guru and author of volumes of Nikonalia, Thom publishes extensive reviews of Nikon-mount equipment.Reviews
Ken RockwellThe most controversial of the group, Rockwell's reviews and comments generate a wide range of reactions, both from his fans and his vocal anti-fans (a PC word for "haterz"?). Rockwell reviews a variety of brands. For those not familiar, this is a classic "controversial" Ken Rockwell piece, Your equipment doesn't matter.Reviews
Bjorn's NaturFotografBjorn does not post reviews often, but when he does, they are usually impact reviews, such as his Nikon D3 review. Mainly Nikon equipment.Reviews
Luminous LandscapeLuminous is the brainchild of Michael Reichmann and produces a variety of equipment reviews. Uses the video format for presentation extensively.Reviews
Reid ReviewsReid's Reviews is the only site using the paid membership subscription model for their reviews (and site in general). A variety of equipment is reviewed there, not just traditional digital, but also film and rangefindersSubscribers Only
Bob AtkinsBob reviews a variety of equipment, both under his website and on other websites as well.Reviews
Digital Outback PhotoOutback reviews select high-interest cameras, with their unique "dairy" format style. If a camera is picked for review by DOP, it probably means it's a very buzzworthy camera.Reviews
Photo.netStarted by Phil Greenspun many years ago, is now a collective of expert reviewers, looking at some of the most interesting cameras (mostly DSLRs) out there. The reviews are single-page format and devoid of "obstacles" making them quite possibly the most reader-friendly reviews. And as a side-note, is quite possibly the "best bang for the byte" in terms of information included per page.Reviews

Many Review Sites

Apart from the review sites mentioned above, there is a number of websites that specialize in digital camera reviews. The list below is not ordered.

Photography BlogIn their trademark six-page format Photography Blog reviews cameras big and small.Reviews
Let's Go DigitalA site available in various languages, Let's Go reviews cameras big and smallReviews
Camera LabsCamera Labs reviews cameras as well as lenses.Reviews
Photography ReviewPR reviews cameras as well as a variety of photography-related equipmentReviews
Digital Camera ReviewDCR reviews cameras in their trademark one-page easy to read format.Reviews
PhotoxelsPhotoxels uses a standard multi-part review formatReviews
Digital Camera InfoDCI reviews cameras using a multi-page format.Reviews
e-photographiae-photographia made a name for itself with great timing in the posting of their reviews and previewsReviews
Think CameraThink Camera reviews cameras in a single-page format.Reviews
ephotozineephotozine uses a single-page review format with four performance bars at the bottomReviews
Trusted ReviewsTR uses a standard 7-page format for their reviews.Reviews
NeoCameraNeoCamera uses an innovative approach of integrating their assessments into a buyer's guide. Practical use of colorful graphics as well.Reviews
PhotoReviewPR posts single-page narrow-band column reviews, putting the content right in the middle of the screen.Reviews specializes in lens reviews, and there are lots of them posted there, especially Canon, Nikon, Pentax and 3rd party. Probably the largest concentration of lens reviews on one siteReviews
SLRGear.comA spin-off from Imaging Resource, specializes on all the SLR gear, except of course the DSLRs themselves which are covered at IRReviews
DigiCamReview.comDigiCamReview reviews a nice mix of DSLRs, superzooms, and compacts, and has some of the hard to find Ricoh reviews as well. They use the single-page format which some people prefer.Reviews
DPInterfaceDP Interface reviews a variety of digital cameras, from point and shoots to DSLR, including cameras that sometimes don't get a review on some of the mega-review sitesReviews
PDN Gear GuideThe online review arm of the PDN franchise posts reviews of digital cameras and related gear and accessories. One of a few websites to post a medium format digital camera reviewReviews
PhotocratiA new website featuring a number of photographers, headlines by the industry veteran Peter K. Burian, reviewing DSLRs and other camera gearReviews

Photography Magazines

These are the traditional print photography magazines, posting their reviews online, sometimes with additional bonus material and sample pictures. For some, the transition to the web continues to be painfully awkward.

Pop PhotoApart from cameras, they also review lenses and select other photo equipment and accessoriesReviews
AP UKAmateur Photographer UK makes some of their reviews available online.Reviews
ShutterbugMagazine reviews available online as wellReviews
Rangefinder MagazineInfrequent reviews posted in PDF format (yes PDF)Reviews
Photo District NewsOnline content is available for magazine subscribers who can create free accounts for complete accessSubscribers only

High Tech Media 1.0

This category includes websites from the first era of the internet, websites such as CNet, magazines like Wired and PC Magazine, and established print tech writers, freelancers or newspaper/magazine writers.

CNet networkThe network of CNet sites (USA, Asia, UK) produces a number of camera reviewsReviews
PC MagazineSingle page easy to read reviews with pop-up benchmarksReviews
WiredThe trademark Wired reviews are also posted on the netReviews
Various othersOther magazines, old school web 1.0 tech sites, national and syndicated tech writers, and such. For example the NY Times Tech column, with the Casio EX-F1 review by David Pogue.Various

High Tech Media 2.0

Ths category includes the newer Web2.0-flavored high tech sites and blogs, which also encompasses the very popular gadget blogs. The scope of the Web 2.0 gadget blogs is the diverse technie universe, so their camera reviews are relatively short and easy to read for the non-hardcore camera geeks.

ReviewsSingle camera reviews such as the Casio EX-F1 at Gizmodo.Various
Feature showcaseThese usually take a look at specific buzzworthy features of buzzworthy cameras. For example, Casio EX-F1 and tomatoesVarious
Head to head reviewsMultiple cameras reviewed, such as this four DSLR Battlemodo at GizmodoVarious
UnboxingQuite possibly one of the defining characteristics of Web 2.0 are "unboxing" ceremonies when new highly anticipated equipment arrives. You won't see an "unboxing" at dpreview, but it is very common in the world of Web 2.0. Take a look at the unboxing of the Rebel XSi (450D) at Engadget, complete with a detailed galleryVarious

Infinitely Diverse Reviewers

We had a hard time finding a good title since this is such a diverse group of reviewers, so we gave it the most descriptive title we could come up with :)

Satellite ReviewsThis category includes domain experts in various fields of photography who rarely review digital cameras as part of their day job, but when they do, it is usually because it is a digital camera of high interest. For example, Scott Kelby reviewing the Nikon D300, Moose Peterson reviewing the Nikon D3, The Online Photographer reviewing the Zeiss Ikon ZI, or the Canon G9, and on and on. (Although TOP may perhaps moving towards having more regular reviews (eg Pentax K20D under way))Various
Group reviewsThis is one areas of camera reviews that is under-represented, we are assuming because of logistical issues. Plus getting a group of photographers to agree for a long period of time may make herding cats look organized ;-) In our opinion the best group review we've seen (and we haven't seen them all out there) is the Olympus E3 at BioFos.Various
ShootoutsThese are designed experiments to test specific features of specific cameras. They are not intended as wall to wall reviews. For example, the on-going Sigma DP1 shootout at Serious Compacts, or the various Camera vs Camera at Foto Tramp.Various
The BelieversThis is a working title for this group. We couldn't find a good name. We also thought of "The Fans", "The Converted", or "The Homers", but they might offend some. These are reviews by people who are strong supporters and fans of a particular brand. For example,,, Alpha Mount World, Sigma User, Four Thirds Photo, Photo Club Alpha, BioFos, and quite a few more.Various
The BloggersThis in itself is a very wide and diverse field, from seasoned and grizzled professional photographers to advanced amateurs, to enthusiastic enthusiasts, to "hello world" beginners.Various
Forum user reviewsThese are regular forum users who add their reviews to the user-review infrastructure of photography forums such as Fred Miranda and dpreview, under each camera brand in the "Camera Database" segment for the latter.Various
In-forum live reviewsThese are live reviews, where the reviewer starts writing the review in a forum, and the other forum users are asking for particular tests and constantly giving feedback. These can be fun and exciting reviews to see develop!Various
Customer ReviewsA large number of retailers, from Amazon to Circuit City to B&H and Adorama to Staples and New Egg and eBay invite their customers to post reviews on their cameras. In some instances there is an option for the reviewer to use the ordering system to verify that he/she actually bought the camera from said retailer. Of course there is no way (yet) to verify that they actually used the camera :)Various
Opinion site reviewsLots and lots of websites offer this feature, such as This is slightly outside the solar system of this post so we won't cover this any furtherVarious
Press release reviewsWe are trying to keep this at a relatively positive tone, so we won't name names, but I'm sure you too have seen these "reviews", the rehashing of the press release or product info from the manufacturer's site portrayed as a "camera review".Various

We looked at dozens and dozens of websites for this feature, and one thing we noticed is that a number of websites make it difficult to find their reviews, especially if one is multi-tasking. I had to "hunt" for reviews for the purposes of this post, but the average reader may not be as patient.

Can't believe we actually finished this marathon post! This is version 1.0 so we are sure it will have a few updates and corrections throughout the first week. Please let us know what you think of this giant feature!

If you have any corrections, or feel that some websites should have been included, please let us know in the comments section or send an email. The email address can be found in the "Contact via email" post. Look at the "About" heading in the top right column of the blog, then click on "Contact via email", and the email address is right there, "decorated" to prevent spambot harvesting. The "About" heading is right above the cutesy Reddit alien button.

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Who reviews lenses? (added May 2009)
The Lens Rentals blog has added an in-depth article on who reviews camera lenses, so be sure to check it out.

Change Log
Since the original publication we added, More coming up.

Added DPInterface, PDN Magazine, PND Gear Guide, and Photocrati (May 2009)


Anonymous said...

Oh c'mon...really ? No ? Shame on you guys ! ;-) It's the #1 trustworthy site regarding lens reviews.

1001 noisy cameras said...

Thanks for catching that! This is probably the first of a handful of sites that should have been included! Will be added very shortly!

Dan Havlik said...

Hmmm, where is Photo District News (PDN) for professional camera reviews (magazine), and, for our online stuff?

Also, for consumer digital cameras? Hmmmm? Hmmm?

Sorry, gratuitous plugs. (And, yes, I know this story is about a year old now.)

1001 noisy cameras said...

Thanks Dan! They will be added shortly!

I'm sure there's more deserving websites and magazines that are not included, so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!