Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?

Started Sep 28, 2012 | Discussions
Andrew Mitchell
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Cyberman, Sep 29, 2012

Cyberman wrote:

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

Funny. He has a real s* t-eating grin on his face all the time. Thanks for sharing.

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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Andrew (Brit expat in Taipei, Taiwan since 1985)

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

Jethro777 (or rather: Ken Rockwell) wrote:

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.

If it is true, it is a valid point.
I don't know if it is true for the a55.

For the a77 it iis not true: I can clear the viewfinder image of any overlays except focus points which all cameras have anyway.

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!

Well, for a jpeg shooter, this may be a valid point. I don't know since I shoot raw.

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.

If it is true, it is a valid point.
I don't know if it is true for the a55.

For the a77 it iis not true: I can make program shift in P just by turning the front or rear wheel.

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!

If it is true, it is a valid point.
But I very much doubt that it is true for the a55.
Any modern camera will put the photos in the same directory tree:
DCIM\xxxYYYYY\
Where xxx is a serial number, and YYYYY is the camera manufacturer.

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.

Seems like a reiteration of point 2.

But he seems to ignore the lack of dynamic range on Canons where skies easily burn out and shadows cannot be lifted without noise. He also seems to ignore the better colour precision of Sony cameras as reported by DxO and many portrait photographers.

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sybersitizen
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Allan Olesen, Sep 29, 2012

The idea of quoting and discussing a few bullet points from this two-year-old Rockwell review is silly. The really big news (at the time) about this review was that it existed at all, and that it contained some positive comments.

Rockwell historically made a strict habit of ignoring and/or dismissing Sony DSLRs on his site. But with the advent of the A55 he was forced to acknowledge that something very important had happened. Although he a) did not like the A55 himself, preferring the behavior of his Nikon and Canon cameras (his own preferences and biases may have nothing to do with yours or mine), and b) also wrote some incorrect things concerning the A55, the idea that he took some time to study the camera and actually wrote some positive things about it was a revelation. Just file this review away as a historical milestone and read the much more balanced and objective reviews on dpreview and imaging-resource.

Here's another of Rockwell's quotes to keep in mind...

"I wouldn't buy one of these, but that's just me. If you want something similar to a DSLR, but with better video, 10 frames per second and great GPS tagging, check this out. I'm all about photography, not gimmicks like crummy video or GPS tagging for intelligence gathering.

The A55 is a nice taste of what cameras might become in a few years when Nikon and Canon offer professional models with pellicle mirrors."

That last sentence is a real killer.

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petermc45
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 29, 2012

A bloke with a blog.

Jethro777 wrote:

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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Tom2572
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 30, 2012

Jethro777 wrote:

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:

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!

LMAO. Classic Ken Rockwell. He found it difficult finding the DCIM (Digital Camera IMages) folder among 4 other folders in the root directory of the SIM card and calls it a deal breaker. Let me repeat that in case anyone missed the punch-line: he found it difficult finding the DCIM folder in the root of the SD card and calls it a deal-breaker. Does a camera even exist that doesn't store images in a DCIM folder? Does anyone not know that DCIM starts with a D? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you must be Ken Rockwell.

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Dennis
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Sep 30, 2012

Jethro777 wrote:

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

No. Ken has previously "reviewed" Sony cameras that he has never actually tried.

Beyond that, he devotes pages telling his readers they don't need high end gear; the cheapest kit lenses on the cheapest entry level bodies are sufficient, until it's time to look at a Sony camera, and suddenly he wants to set green/magenta WB tint ?

EVF ... I'm sure you can view the EVF without being cluttered with "junk". The EVF on the A55 is inferior to the higher end EVF in A65/A77, but the OVF in competing entry level DSLRs is pretty lame.

As for "basic settings" there's more to that than meets the eye, but again, you have to compare apples to apples, and I know that similarly priced Canon/Nikon cameras have vastly different settings compared to higher end models.

Canon is a camera built for photographers, while Sony is better at making electronic baubles.

That pretty much speaks to his bias. Frankly, I agree that Nikon & Canon know enthusiast & pro photographers and what they need better than Sony does and produce cameras that suit a wider range of such photographers. But Sony has better technology and knows consumers better than the other two. The A55 is a nice camera.

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!

"Half of my computers" ? I download to one computer. I know some travel with a laptop. No problem with viewing the folders on cards formatted by Sony cameras. This is a non-issue and I've never seen it mentioned in any other review. (The playback issue is mentioned - having to switch between image playback and video playback, but that's just a minor annoyance and not a reason to choose a camera).

5.) The images just don't look as good as I get from Canon and Nikon.

Blah blah blah ... this from the guy who says most people should be satisfied by images from a Casio point & shoot.

Seriously, I'm not a Sony fanboy - I actually switched from Sony to Nikon. But Sony cameras are fine and Rockwell is an idiot.

  • Dennis

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Frenske
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Oct 9, 2012

Ken Rockwell is Nigel Tufnel commenting about amplification levels on Marshall amps.

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JoeDesperado
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Jethro777, Oct 9, 2012

just taking a short look at the fotos on KR's website should be enough to make clear that this guy has no clue what he's talking about, and probably doesn't even know the meaning of the word 'composition'. what a troll.

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carljervis
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Re: Is Ken Rockwell's review credible?
In reply to Dennis, Oct 9, 2012

Dennis wrote:

Jethro777 wrote:

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

No. Ken has previously "reviewed" Sony cameras that he has never actually tried.

Beyond that, he devotes pages telling his readers they don't need high end gear; the cheapest kit lenses on the cheapest entry level bodies are sufficient, until it's time to look at a Sony camera, and suddenly he wants to set green/magenta WB tint ?

EVF ... I'm sure you can view the EVF without being cluttered with "junk". The EVF on the A55 is inferior to the higher end EVF in A65/A77, but the OVF in competing entry level DSLRs is pretty lame.

As for "basic settings" there's more to that than meets the eye, but again, you have to compare apples to apples, and I know that similarly priced Canon/Nikon cameras have vastly different settings compared to higher end models.

Canon is a camera built for photographers, while Sony is better at making electronic baubles.

That pretty much speaks to his bias. Frankly, I agree that Nikon & Canon know enthusiast & pro photographers and what they need better than Sony does and produce cameras that suit a wider range of such photographers. But Sony has better technology and knows consumers better than the other two. The A55 is a nice camera.

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!

"Half of my computers" ? I download to one computer. I know some travel with a laptop. No problem with viewing the folders on cards formatted by Sony cameras. This is a non-issue and I've never seen it mentioned in any other review. (The playback issue is mentioned - having to switch between image playback and video playback, but that's just a minor annoyance and not a reason to choose a camera).

5.) The images just don't look as good as I get from Canon and Nikon.

Blah blah blah ... this from the guy who says most people should be satisfied by images from a Casio point & shoot.

Seriously, I'm not a Sony fanboy - I actually switched from Sony to Nikon. But Sony cameras are fine and Rockwell is an idiot.

  • Dennis

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Dennis,

This is the computer he writes his blog on - explains the difficulty in reading the files?

http://www.vtechuk.com/PreSchool/my_laptop_pink/

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Michel J
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List of what Sony have VS Nikon (mostly) not :-)
In reply to Jethro777, Oct 10, 2012

Jethro777 wrote:

I wouldn't buy one of these things.

Every camera have his "pros" VS "cons", but here, a short list of what Sony (A99 and/or A77 and some others) have and Nikon DSLR supposed not... (So, everybody can contribute if some mistake... ahahah)
— thinner design of the sensor, what means making the light-sensitive "wells" less deep;
- -> what mean the sensor being less sensitive to angles of incidence which (among other things) translate to better utilization of really fast lenses - like f2 and beyond (btw);
- -> what mean light sensitive part of each photo site is bigger (Photodiode expansion) ;
- -> what mean more light gathering area per pixel (for the same light available), and thus for the entire sensor.

— EVF (with all adjustments);
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf-8NYaQ9XQ

- -> what mean fill all the field of view,
- -> what mean accurate manual focusing, because the EVF allows you to magnify an area to clearly see when the subject snaps into sharp focus (focus picking). EVF screens also brighten automatically, making it easier to see a scene – especially the DOF –  in low-light situations, or preview at smaller apertures.
- -> what show much more information than an OVF. Besides exposure numbers, an EVF can show a live histogram map of the dark-to-light tones in the image. It can show a live preview of white balance settings and simulate shutter speed, among many things (in-camera real time preview, with all parameters of settings available on screen and can be updated in real time before shooting);
- -> what mean unequalled control in conditions of near-darkness (because of the EVF);
- -> what mean it’s not just what you see through the viewfinder that’s different. It's also a new way to take shots, and make photography.
— LCD brightness boost for sunny days;
— in-body image stabilization (Nikon have only some stabilized lenses, when all Alpha mount take benefits of this in-camera steady-shots);
— legendary embedded colorimetry and other precision measurements provided by the Minolta heritage;
— WB in Kelvin degrees (only some Nikon's have);
— no "vintage" design and interface (philosophy of an "easy to use" interface dedicated for a better creative photography);
— efficient in-camera wireless flash system in standard (option for Nikon)
— fixed-mirror design SLT, for in-camera low vibration and silent mecanism;
— in-camera pro XLR inerface connectors for such video/audio pro applications (option through new hot shoe) + in-camera adjustable audio record levels for video;
— in-camera stereo microphone;
— great in-camera .jpeg colour balance on every cameras (no yellowish nor redish);

— unrivalled dual AF system (AF-D) , what maintains tracking focus in critical situations;
- -> what mean  the AF-D focus mode utilizing the much written about 102 extra PD focus points on the sensor. Essentially there are two almost rectangular groups of AF sensors on each side of the central AF point.
- -> what mean it should be much better at tracking moving subjects by giving the camera an almost 3D sense of the subject ("Depth mapping") .
- -> because Sony is using on sensor PDAF to assist the traditional AF sensors
— "AF Range control" button – The idea of limiting how much distance up to and beyond a subject the AF is supposed to go for should have a very real potential of reducing hunting and sudden drastic misfocusing.
- -> what mean you can manually selecting foreground and background distance to which the AF system will not respond;
- -> what mean no more lens hunting back/forth from MFD to infinity!
- -> what provide Full-time Continuous AF Movie mode, allowing smooth, non-stop tracking of moving subjects.
— in-camera smile/face recognition;
- -> what mean this basically is a "content aware" focusing system, a bit related to face detection and similar, but faster and more geard towards fast tracking of erratically moving subjects;
— new area-specific noise reduction (NR) algorithm (for low AND high ISO);
- -> what can vary the amount of NR depending on the content (Area specific noise reduction!) is supposed to analyze image content and vary the amount of NR depending on the content. Basically more NR in smooth areas (like a sky) and less in areas with lots of detail, so not to smudge legitimate detail;

— first full-frame DSLR to offer Full HD 60p/24p progressive video recording to meet AVCHD™ Version 2.0 specifications;
— Have a new silent, programmable multi-control rotary dial;
- -> what mean you can change video/photos settings on the fly (including exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, aperture and much more);

— one handed twist of a locked knob;
— Can be operated via remote PC connection;
— Have two dedicated memory slots (what you can enslave to a dedicated application) what provide an uninterrupted ‘dual-card’ recording using both of the camera’s media slots.
— Use a Sony standard battery pack (NP-FM500H mostly the same as other D-SLR(T) of this brand);
- -> can embedding three battery pack at the same time (with the grip);
And last but not least: Carl Zeiss zoom's  lenses and some prime's (Nikon can use only some);

So, globally, Sony have not the same approach than his rivals. Up to what photographer you are and your needs (of course)! If — as a pro — you are more creative than a sort of technician geek mutant ( ) I strongly recommand Alpha mount!

Kind Regards,

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Michel J

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