Comparing to buy new cam ? beware of...

Started May 27, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Re: I like user reviews
In reply to Alphoid, May 28, 2012

Good points raised here. thx for posting.

Alphoid wrote

The key problem I've had with review sites is that the reviews are based on a pretty brief experience with the camera. User reviews, while more biased, are often much more knowledgeable.

DPReview is centered around reviewing dSLRs for mainstream use, by people most familiar with Canon and Nikon, and they view all the other cameras through that lens. When I bought my a55, I found the dpreview article I had read prior to buying it to be extremely misleading and almost useless. All the reviews missed:

  • The super-smart automatic modes. That's not how dSLRs get reviewed.

  • The bugs/issues in virtually all corners of the user interface. dSLRs get reviewed for normal use. Issues like the viewfinder going black for a long time if you enable autoreview, or lack of focus zoom in video modes, or black screen with external flash, or swarms of other bugs, never come out in testing. The testing doesn't go into the corner cases; just how the major modes work for the commonly-used functions.

  • With my ancient a700, the auto mode was a clever cross between auto and P mode, combining all the upsides of both. If it had program shift (which, sadly, it didn't), it would have given you complete control. This was never noticed by dpreview, and when newer models came out, the omission was never criticized.

  • IBIS+primes. Never mentioned. Quite essential.

  • Long-term support. Sony doesn't do firmware updates, and doesn't really like to RMA broken cameras.

  • Etc.

You have to read user reviews and recommendations very critically, because they're extremely biased, but the writers will have months or years experience with a given brand, and bring up a lot of things dpreview will just miss. DPReview is nice for testing high ISO noise, focus speed, and maybe a half-dozen other numerical parameters. If all you care about is a 30% difference in noise levels at ISO1600, it's great, but if you care about overall ergonomics and usability of the camera, it's not nearly as useful.

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