Who don't I trust?

1. Reviewers who put a 'buy your camera here via Amazon or some shop, and make me some money' sticker at the bottom of their review.  And of course being 'people of integrity' this couldn't possibly in any way shape or form affect their view of the camera. Could it? (And yes I've done it in the past but seen the error of my ways and the moral compromises involved)

2. Review sites who get given a camera to play with after the free nibbles and champagne at some launch event and shoot off a few appalling jpgs. with a pre-production camera. And give their usual positive review. And of course once again being 'people of integrity' they couldn't possibly be influenced by this. If, for example, they gave an entirely negative review, they would of course be invited back next time, wouldn't they?

3. Review sites that ask for a paypal donation.

4. Sites that review a camera and give it a positive verdict (or a negative one) without actually having ever had one in their hands.

5. Review sites and forums who get sent cameras to review by the manufacturers. And being 'people of etc. etc.

6. Review sites and forums who get sent gear to review by shops that advertise on their site. And being etc. etc. (And yes I've done that too. But seen the error of my ways etc. etc.)

7. Review sites and blogs who review cameras made by the company that employs them. (A fact that they also neglect to mention) 

8. Well-known (and often entertaining it has to be said) video reviews of gear made by wannabe internet celebrities who are in actual fact nothing more than shop assistants.

9. Reviews by wannabe photographic gurus who claim to be photographic 'writers' and 'teachers' who spout a lot of pseudo technical guff and publish a lot of charts. Presumably to make up for the fact that nobody has actually ever paid them for their (non-existent) photographic skills.

10. Reviews by 'old-pro' photographers who suddenly change their view on photographic practice after being 'consulted' by some well-heeled electronics company.

11. Photographers who become brand 'Ambassadors' or some such euphenism and expect us to take their facebook or blog snidy comments about other manufacturers products seriously.

12. Review sites that hire a camera for a few days, review it, send it back and hope to recoup the cost via increased traffic to their site. 

13. Review sites that charge you for their opinions.

And yes I do run Google ads on my site, which generates a (very) small yearly income which I use to cover expenses. But I have no control over what turns up, clicking on them or not is your choice and of course you can turn them off.

So who do I trust?

Well in the main I trust YOU. The readers of this blog. I have on many occasions bought a product, or not bought one because of feedback and samples I've accessed via this blog and it's readers. Recent examples would include the Sony FE 35mm lens and it's vignetting, which has made me decide not to buy one and the recent discussion about the 28-70mm zoom which has helped me decide whether I should keep it or not. 

I bought into the Fuji X system because of some samples posted by a long time blog reader and I've been often been influenced in my purchases of lenses by other's experiences of them. 

The main thing that influences me is that you have actually gone out and handed over your hard earned (or not I guess!) cash to buy something. You haven't had something sent to you as a short-term 'present' or 'freebie'. And from personal experience I know that actually paying for something and using it for a while does actually focus your mind on the virtues and faults of camera gear. 

And I do still read and recommend some blogs and visit other sites, but they tend to be the smaller ones, the less well-known ones and the ones written by genuine photography enthusiasts. And they can be either by professionals or non-professionals, I don't really care which. But this is where I feel I'll get the best assessment of what something is really like and most importantly what it's like to use it on a day by day, day after day basis. The things that are good, the disappointments, what works, what doesn't and how all of these things contribute to an overall judgement.

You may have noticed that I've stopped labelling my posts as reviews. And that's entirely deliberate. I'm calling my ongoing posts about the A7r an 'Owner Assessment' because that's more accurately what it is and intended to be, which is an account of my long-term usage. However If you want good comparison sites that do have a decent testing methodology and some semblance of integrity, then there are some that I do take notice of. Well, two to be exact. Imaging Resource and Dpreview. If I want to see a comparison between the image quality from different cameras then I use the IR comparometer which is, you guessed it, incomparable. And Dpreview are now so big that manufacturers try to keep in their good books, not the other way round. Plus I have to say I've never once disagreed with Dpreview about a camera I've bought and used. They take their time to review gear and only work with production models, use them extensively, have a well-tried and thorough testing procedure and come to a balanced judgement. 

So, it struck me that this blog might be a good vehicle to promote 'independent' gear reports. As you know I will publish a link to other sites and readers comments if I think they will be useful. I would however like to do more of that. Instead of me banging on about my usual preferences and yet another post about how great my Nikon lenses are, why not read some user experiences from other people? I'd be happy to publish whatever you come up with. My only conditions are that you are honest and you don't make it up. I'm happy to publish links to blogs or just your own text. It's up to you. And if it's a contradictory view to mine then that's probably even more useful. I do try to get round all the sites I recommend but I can't promise I'll spot everything. So if you can help me out here by just posting a link on Google+ or putting your thoughts in a post then I'd be happy to publish them.

That way we might be able to come up with something that's genuine and not 'tainted' by financial considerations. And yes I guess that's a bit 'goody two-shoes' but good intentions,  decent motives and real world, real owner assessments of gear are in somewhat short supply these days on the photographic internet and it would be nice to attempt to reinstate and promote them, even in a very small way.

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