Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?

Started Sep 28, 2012 | Discussions
Jethro777
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Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
Sep 28, 2012

My brother, a die-hard Nikon and Canon fan swears by his reviews. Is it credible?

http://www.kenrockwell.com/sony/a55.htm

"Monday Morning Wake-Up Call"

While all the whizzy features impress gadget hounds, the fundamental picture-taking ability of the Sony A55 is flawed in several very important ways. I wouldn't buy one of these things.

Among the big deficiencies for serious photographers, any one of which is a deal-breaker, are:

1.) On-screen junk. I was never able to get the exposure data numbers off of my image so I could compose. Instead of being below the image as on a real SLR, the EVF of this Sony always has some data written on top of your image as you're trying to compose.

2.) Sony is several years behind Nikon and Canon when it comes to basic settings. There is no way to set any green-magenta color trim on any setting except the manual-white-card setting. Worse, one cannot set warm/cool shift on the Auto White Balance setting, which is how I get great images out of my Nikons, and even my Canon point-and-shoots, but something that this Sony can't do. Because of this design defect, all the pictures I took with the A55 were too blue for my taste. Oops!

3.) I never could find how to shift the exposure program. Even Canon's first EOS 620 of 1987 had a shiftable program. Canon is a camera built for photographers, while Sony is better at making electronic baubles.

4.) The Sony A55 puts all sorts of junk files and folders all over the SD card. Not only does this make it a pain to have to hunt and peck for the only folder we need that has our images, half of my computers didn't recognize the card in my various card readers! I had to stick the SD card in my MacBook Pro, and use the MacBook Pro to copy the files to a USB stick, and then copy from the USB stick to my Power Mac. In the A55's defense, the A55 connects to all my computers just fine via USB and pops up as an external drive, which is something the Nikon D7000 can't do. Still, I'd rather the cards were legible!

5.) The images just don't look as good as I get from Canon and Nikon. The "look" of a digital camera, just like the look of a woman or the look of a film, is a very subtle and personal thing. In the case of Canon and Nikon, they've worked decades to fine-tune their image processing algorithms, transfer functions and color matrices to get images that simply look better, to me, than I get from this Sony. Sony makes the sensors for Nikon, but sensors are only a small part of a much larger equation in camera design.

The images from this Sony do have better color than what I get from the LEICA M9, but that's not saying much. Image quality depends more on these subtle factors that aren't familiar to anyone other than camera designers than all the marketing fluff in the world. Nikon and Canon have thrown more resources to this problem for more decades than Sony has. Sony has been a world leader in professional video and electronic imaging since the 1960s, but not in still photography.

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Since I intend to invest in the A65, I guess my question is, are the concerns general, or was this true of the A55's he was reviewing?

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Tubal
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 28, 2012

Ken Rockwell is a diehard Nikon fanboy.

He might have some good tips on photography, and he might know his stuff, but when he reviews anything besides Nikon, it's pretty biased.

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Amateur Sony Shooter
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 28, 2012

He suggests everyone shoot jpeg only, and low-medium res is good enough. Would you follow his suggestion?

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Bart7D
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Re: Ken Rockwell's review is NOT credible
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 28, 2012

He has a very lighthearted approach to writing reviews about things he knows (which make them often fun to read), but also is over-estimating his knowledge and comprehension of other brands. He sounds firm and decided, but has obviously not taken the time to get a grasp of even basic functions in Sony's Alphas.
The result is moronic nonsense.

Bart

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sensibill
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 28, 2012

Jethro777 wrote:

My brother, a die-hard Nikon and Canon fan swears by his reviews. Is it credible?

No. He's a self-promoting tabloid camera blogger and Nikon devotee (paid shill) with a flair for the ridiculous and excessively hyperbolic to garner hits. His approach is akin to a car salesman trying to steer an ignorant mark to the vehicle he wants to sell most. Relevant facts and rational perspective do not play a role.

And speaking of playing a role, anyone who has trouble finding a DCIM folder on an SD card needs to be in another business altogether. I'm sure he gets around the 'clutter' just fine.

Rockwell Translation: It's not a Canikon and does a few things differently; ergo it's crap.

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JohnBee
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

Ken Rockwell is the Father of the RichHigh method.
And by this, I mean he gets his attention by stirring controversy.

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Steve Paradise
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to JohnBee, Sep 29, 2012

Perhaps Ken doesn't realize that Nikon uses Sony sensors.

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Cyberman
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

There's a video of Ken walking around the B&H store. It's amazing to see someone talk incessantly (and like a machine-gun), yet not saying anything substantive.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3S0_7xKOIc

It reminds me of someone I used to work with - great in a job interview situation, but couldn't do the job (although he thought he could, living in a world of his own).

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GuyMcKie
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

Old man with nostalgia for the past, where everything was better than now.
Digital is better than film, and in pp any film look can be simulated.

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thubleau7
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August 24th 2010
In reply to GuyMcKie, Sep 29, 2012

Who cares?
If his reviews are not credible show us something current like a A57 review .

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nplanet
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

To quickly answer your question: NO.

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Jethro777
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to nplanet, Sep 29, 2012

There is only one response then.

It will make for an interesting 'family debate' then. Thanks for everyone's contributions so far.

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Promit
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

Nothing Ken Rockwell says is EVER credible. He only shoots JPEG and has bizarre film era demands of his equipment. His photos are mediocre and his technical competence is disastrously poor.

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Stflbn
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

I guess my question is more toward the OP.

Why are you worrying about a55 reviews when the a57 and better are out there and substantially better camera's than the a55.

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HobbiesAreFun
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

There's always an ounce of truth to the spewing crap that comes from his mouth. He's very good at attracting attention, overexaggerating reality, and producing views from a strictly family-photographer perspective. While I don't question he can do great things as a photographer in his own right, much of his "Advice" isn't worth reading.

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-Eric (17 years old with tons of things I can't wait to learn)
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Neeyon
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Re: IMHO Ken was waaaaaay too quick to write it off...
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

If you do google search for A55 reviews you'll see that the vast majority of professional reviews (including DPR's review) are highly positive, not to mention the numerous awards this camera won. I did a lot of research before buying my A55, and off the top of my head, I think that Ken Rockwell's review was the only majorly negative one that I came across from a professional reviewer. There are areas where Ken certainly knows his stuff, but I agree with the others that he seems to have a notable CaNikon bias.

I'm not saying that the A55 doesn't have its flaws (and certainly you'll find them listed in a number of the reviews), but then no camera is perfect. It all comes down to what suits you as an individual. Basically, what are the strengths you need, and what are the flaws you can or can't live with? Personally I find it almost amusing how quickly Ken wrote it off - from the focus he gave to some pretty minor issues (e.g. didn't like the way the camera organised the files on the memory card) it seems like he had decided that he wasn't going to like it before he'd even opened the box. Even his comments about IQ in the conclusion are difficult to understand - he basically says he doesn't like the way the camera's images look, and prefers the way CaNikon images look, but doesn't actually say specifically what it is he doesn't like (though to his credit he does acknowledge that it is a subjective matter). Maybe it didn't suit his photography style or his personal taste in how images should look, but there are tons of photos on the internet (including many from users of this forum) that show that this camera is capable of taking fantastic shots.

As a side note, if you're thinking about buying an A55 (I'm assuming this is the case since you're asking for feedback on this review), I'd recommend looking at an A57 too. So long as you don't need the in-built GPS and don't mind a camera that is a bit chunkier, then it has quite a few incremental improvements over the A55 (e.g. better video capabilities, better EVF etc) and isn't that much more expensive.

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Ralf B
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don't ruin thanksgiving
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

Jethro777 wrote:

My brother, a die-hard Nikon and Canon fan swears by his reviews.

You may an issue next Thanksgiving here. So if the discussion "Why on Earth did you even consider Sony" should arise, provide your brother with links to other review sites - like the a57 review on this very site - so that your decision has the faintest chance of any credibility...

Since I intend to invest in the A65, I guess my question is, are the concerns general, or was this true of the A55's he was reviewing?

KR is wayyyyy off the mark. I shoot mostly with an a900 in RAW, and my a55's IQ is absolutely satisfactory for the occasions (mountain hikes, motorcycle tours etc) the FF gear is just too heavy to take along. And the a55 "gimmicks" are just great: Here is an example of an in-cam pano (which of course means jpeg) from a motorcycle tour in the French Alps in August 2011:

Shot with the Ttamron 17-50/2.8 with neutral creative style and all in-cam jpeg settings at "0". Some PP (CA removal, levels) yielded a result that works great as large print on the wall. Great shadow details...

Forget KR, get the a65. Good luck with arguing these moves with your brother, though

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tbcass
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Question; Is Ken Rockwell's review credible? Answer; NO
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

Ken Rockwell doesn't even test the Sony cameras he talks about. He is not a professional photographer. He really doesn't know much about cameras and his articles clearly demonstrate his ignorance and are amaturish at best. He's a Canikon Fanboy with a web site, nothing more.

BTW, the two main points he complained about in that A55 review are not true in the A65. The A65 does have program shift and it has a very sophisticated method for adjusting white balance. The rest of his rant was simply him spouting off his personal opinions. He loves to be provocative to up his web site hit rate. The web site is how he makes his living.

One last think. No offense but does your brother know much about photography? Anybody that takes KR seriously doesn't in my book.
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Look at the picture, not the pixels

http://www.flickr.com/photos/63683676@N07/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301400@N00/

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tbcass
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Tubal, Sep 29, 2012

Tubal wrote:

Ken Rockwell is a diehard Nikon fanboy.

He might have some good tips on photography, and he might know his stuff, but when he reviews anything besides Nikon, it's pretty biased.

Know his stuff. I disagree. I probably know more than he does. He's an ignorant ass.

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Eleson
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If Ken says we should drive on the right side of the road , ...
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

... then I wouldn't dare to get out in traffic, because I certainly don't trust him.

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Erland

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