Is it time to reconsider camera ratings?

Started Apr 15, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Marty4650 Forum Pro • Posts: 13,713
Is it time to reconsider camera ratings?

Since no one is making any bad cameras today, there is a lot of score compression for the Dpreview rating system. It seems like most cameras get gold awards, and the rest get silver awards, with very few getting no award.

Of the last 20 interchangeable lens cameras reviewed:

  • 65% (13) got gold awards
  • 25% (5) got silver awards
  • 10% (2) got no award

This situation results in heated debates in forums because camera X got a 84% when camera Y only got an 80% rating but had better features or image quality. And then Dpreview becomes like Lake Wobegone, where "every child is exceptional."

We now have a system where 90% of all the things rated are "exceptional" in some way, and the other 10% are simply "ordinary." This simply doesn't jive with the common concept of awarding medals, in the context of how we regard medals. That is, if you assume that medals are being awarded to differentiate performance levels, rather than simply as marketing hype.

In the Olympics, less than 10% of the athletes get medals. In the military, it is probably even lower than that. The music industry went the same route as Dpreview is going (for marketing reasons) and eventually had to add "Platinum" and "Double Platinum" when a "Gold Record" became overused and therefore meaningless.

The explanation for this is usually that "those cameras aren't in the same category" or "the bar keeps moving up." And while both of these things are true, if you extend the logic we will soon have a range of 85% to 95%, where we previously had a range 59% to around 82% just a few years ago.

It might be time to reconsider the Dpreview rating system. A system that forces the exceptional to be truly exceptional would be much more useful than one which merely tells us "they are all pretty good." If you do that, then your distribution chart looks more like this:

Naturally, this would cause all the fanboys to howl, and all the advertisers to get upset, but it would be much more meaningful. It would adhere to the concept that the "best" really is "the best," with the understanding that all of the cameras rated are still pretty good, because Dpreview will only devote resources to reviewing pretty good cameras.

What do you think?

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