Reichmann on Uwe Steinmüller...

Started Dec 30, 2003 | Discussions thread
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Petteri Sulonen
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Reichmann on Uwe Steinmüller...
Dec 30, 2003

At the risk of getting a reputation of a MR-basher (which I'm not; there are many things about his reviews and writing that I appreciate a great deal, as I've said on numerous occasions), I just noticed something more that irks me enough to comment on it.

MR comments on the most recent 828 reviews on the web, in particular, Uwe Steinmüller's excellent one [ http://www.outbackphoto.com/reviews/equipment/sony_f828/sony_f828.html ]. This is what he says:

"Uwe Steinmeuller at Digital Outback Photo has now published his initial diary review of the Sony F828. "Holy Pixels Batman", his conclusions are fairly similar to mine. Imagine that. He must be on Sony's payroll as well :-)"

MR probably isn't reading this, but I have to get this off my chest, so I'll pretend he is.

One of the (two) main issues I had with MR's review was the point about CA. MR does a marvelous job of ignoring it on all of his crops, when it comes time to discuss it, trots out a crop that, miracle of miracles, has no evident CA, and generally pooh-poohs it:

"The good news is that the Sony 828 isn't the only camera that displays this characteristic. I've seen it in every single digital camera that I've ever tested or used, including my Canon 1Ds and all of the 16 and 22 Megapixel backs that I've reviewed — some of them costing $30,000. Sometimes you see it and sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's cased by lens CA, and sometimes by overloaded photo sites bleeding into adjacent darker frames. I've often seen CA on $6,000 lenses when using film. It's a fact of life."

When I read this paragraph, I get the following meaning:

"The 828 does have some CA, but it's not significantly worse in this respect than $30,000 digital gear or $6,000 lenses. Quit yer whining."

Yes, it's (even theoretically) impossible to completely eradicate CA, but the performance seen on these crops is much worse than any lens I've owned, on film or on digital, with the exception of the bottom-drawer-cheap Canon 90-300/4.5-5.6 USM (and that under f/11 at 300 mm near infinity). For example, it's worse than the 28-80/3.5-5.6 III, regarded as junk my most people. If not an outright lie, MR's statement is at least a major distortion of the truth.

However, here's what Uwe had to say about CA:

"The main issue with images from the F828 is actually chromatic aberration (CA). At least with all shots at 200mm and at more contrasty scenes we get a lot CA (the contrast was not even extreme). This CA is also easily visible to the naked eye in prints at 11x14"."

This was precisely my impression of the 828 samples I've seen.

My issue with MR's review is that a reviewer should honestly report whatever failings he sees in a product, and then state his opinion of the overall significance of the failings. Uwe did exactly that, to the point of carefully explaining post-processing techniques to address this particular shortcoming. MR pooh-poohed the problem, and resorted to snide remarks about pixel-staring.

I resent that. It diminishes my respect for MR's integrity. Especially as he's a repeat offender: I bought the Epson 2100 largely on his recommendation, where he specifically states that with it, metamerism is a thing of the past. Well, it may be significantly improved from previous pigment-based printers, but it's very much still there. Oh, I'm very happy with the printer -- but I would have expected an honest reviewer to state, for example, that "black and white prints can look noticeably greenish under certain lighting, while they're pleasingly neutral under other lighting. However, the 2200 performs noticeably better than previous pigment-based inkjets, and by using different profiles for different types of lighting, close to perfect results are achievable; even when not, most people will probably not notice the shift unless they're looking for it."

I've no doubt that the 828 is a fine camera, arguably the best in its class (although I have to say that IMO the Minolta A1 is a strong contender for that spot, too). If I got my hands on it, I would most likely be very impressed.

I have to wonder what's behind it, though -- for example, how come MR can be entirely candid about the handling issues with the camera, but glosses over major aspects of the image quality? Does he have a problem with his eyesight? Or is it simply that it's easier for him to kid himself into seeing what he wants to see than feeling what he wants to feel? I know from personal experience that neither is very difficult for anyone, and it's quite tough for a reviewer not to do this.

Whew, I'm glad I got this off my chest. Let the games begin...

Petteri
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