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Are there any reviewers that are good photographers?
Old 04-15-2018   #1
Landberg
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Are there any reviewers that are good photographers?

Hi!
Every time I search the intrernet or youtube for a gear review the same thing happens. I will find a video with a person talking about the gear and they sound like they know what they are talking about. But then they show their images and they are bad. Really bad. I guess that most are just in to gear and there is nothing wrong with that. But i want to know the thoughts of people who can use a camera and take good photos. I don’t need to know that a m4/3 is worse in low light than a Canon 5d MKIIII, everyone knows that. I dont need to know if AF speed is slower or faster than a Fuji X-H1. I need to know how the gear works in real life shooting real things. I can’t be the onlyone asking for this? Those out there are great revirewers if im only looking for technical stuff.

Are there any good camera gear reviewers who are also a good photographers?
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Old 04-15-2018   #2
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Perhaps it's a case of - those that can do, those that can't write reviews.
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Old 04-15-2018   #3
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Those are my observations as well of most of the work I see on online photography "experts". Looks like many of them just discovered Daido Mariyama and Alex Webb and decided to copy their styles while repeating what they've read on blogs by other "experts". I guess it's a sign of true Internet democracy since anyone can be an expert if they can have a blog, make a video or voice an opinion. Plus, reviewers go nuts for being among the first to review a new camera or lens which means there are very few reviews of the camera or lens out there a couple of years down the road to give you any idea on how the equipment is functioning over time.

My suggestion is ignore them all as much as possible. Every single camera available today is capable of making outstanding, stupendous, incredible photographs in the hands of the best photographers. The only thing different about the cameras is how they handle and how they package what features (and handling and importance of features are totally subjective from one user to the next). Unfortunately there's no real way to tell how an individual will respond to the equipment, making the job of photography equipment reviewer pretty much superfluous.
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Old 04-15-2018   #4
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Does it really matter? As long as the camera works (and most seem to) then that is all that really needs to be shown. Most of these reviewers seem to be camera enthusiasts not necessarily photographers.

Sure, I can watch a guitar review from an amazing player but it's the tone, playability, comfort (balance), etc of the guitar itself that is important. If I suck at playing that guitar isn't going to change a thing. If it has a fat neck with sticky lacquer then no sale! That's the info I need
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Old 04-15-2018   #5
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I'm no expert but I always thought Ming Thein was pretty good. Ted Forbes seems decent, too. However, I'd agree that it's rare to find someone who can write well AND take a good photograph.
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Old 04-15-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benlees View Post

Sure, I can watch a guitar review from an amazing player but it's the tone, playability, comfort (balance), etc of the guitar itself that is important. If I suck at playing that guitar isn't going to change a thing. If it has a fat neck with sticky lacquer then no sale! That's the info I need
This is the reason I don't care if the reviewer is an artist or not. All that matters is that they have used the equipment in question AND have used enough similar equipment to be able to make a judgement. This becomes ever more important now that most of us buy stuff online without the chance of trying out in store. It's really a question of usability rather than any image quality issue.
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Old 04-15-2018   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yokosuka_Mike View Post
Perhaps it's a case of - those that can do, those that can't write reviews.
This is a bit of an oversimplification, "those who can't, teach". Really that's not the case. Taking good photographs and writing a good review are two totally separate skill sets. Writing a good review is actually really hard.

I'm a scientist and a science teacher, teaching is the harder job by a long shot. It's almost like "those who can't teach, do".
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Old 04-15-2018   #8
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Two I can think of John Szarkowski (you must have "Looking at Photographs"). And Teju Cole - I find some of his writing quite dense but he definitely has an eye.
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Old 04-15-2018   #9
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May I say, why, with some playoffs occurring now here in the U.S., I notice all the teams have a head coach.

My photography really improved when I found a gent who became my teacher, coach and mentor. Others that I’ve met overs the years, who are successful; they are the easiest to talk to and willing to point you in a direction leading to positive results.

But you have to be willing to listen, learn and work hard.

That’s my advice.

Find someone who could be your teacher, coach and mentor. A person who sees the world like you do and is willing to help you on your photography journey.

Ask. What have you got to lose?

There are some foks participating on this forum who are excellent photographers.
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Old 04-15-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karateisland View Post
I'm no expert but I always thought Ming Thein was pretty good. Ted Forbes seems decent, too. However, I'd agree that it's rare to find someone who can write well AND take a good photograph.
Ming Thein has always been the best of both worlds, however I've always found his photos and reviews to be very objective (which is good for most) but that being said, his photos always feel like it's lacking soul.
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Old 04-15-2018   #11
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Very few reviewers are good photographers (at least not in any artistic sense) in my experience. Reminds me of the old adage: If you cannot "do" then "teach". (And if you cannot teach, instead become a highly paid educational administrator......at least so teachers I have known, tell me).

I used to often go to an interesting site mainly occupied by Europeans - the Manual Focus Forum http://forum.mflenses.com/manual-focus-lenses-f3.html . It was good because people reviewed many older mainly European lenses though over the past decade and a half with eBay they have had greater access to Japanese etc lenses and there is a wider range of lenses discussed regularly than before. I go there less often these days but occasionally fire it up and have a look.

While I enjoyed the site - the people were and are nice folk, I was often astounded at how boring many photos were in artistic terms. It seemed to me that often, someone would poke the lens out of his window at a back alley, focus on a rubbish bin and if it was sharp he then announced it to be a good lens and others would pronounce it a great image. Even where they transcended this tendency the images were seldom much other than a pixel peeper's idea of a good photo (i.e. sharp) and in more recent times they would extend themselves to tests of bokeh as well.

It just seems that most guys (for they are almost always guys) are into gear they are not actually much into photographic art. And visa versa. There is a place for this but I am kind of reconciled to not being able to find really good photographers among the review crowd.
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Old 04-15-2018   #12
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Ming Thein.

Reid Reviews http://www.reidreviews.com
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Old 04-15-2018   #13
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Most of known gear reviewers are good photogos. They take good pictures for reviews.

If OP needs real life pictures, I recommend to open his flickr, put in search camera he needs and click on the search line. "Groups" will appears.
I just checked Sony RX1 and Panasonic LX100 pictures and day ago I was looking at Leica M240.
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Old 04-15-2018   #14
Hogarth Ferguson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karateisland View Post
I'm no expert but I always thought Ming Thein was pretty good. Ted Forbes seems decent, too. However, I'd agree that it's rare to find someone who can write well AND take a good photograph.
I cannot stand ted forbes reviews. He has fallen into the "content machine" issue that lots of youtubers fall into. They start a channel to share knowledge, have good content, then, run out of content and just start producing garbage, or any thought that pops into their head. I can't watch his videos anymore.
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Old 04-15-2018   #15
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He might not be good but I love the background music and I do enjoy looking at the photos he makes. That would be Mattias Burling.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgV...L100C9_6vyM9-g

M8:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE2ASTaDL5Q&t=238s
M6:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCJe1OE-1-8
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Old 04-15-2018   #16
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Mattias Burling makes really good videos.
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Old 04-15-2018   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
May I say, why, with some playoffs occurring now here in the U.S., I notice all the teams have a head coach.

My photography really improved when I found a gent who became my teacher, coach and mentor. Others that I’ve met overs the years, who are successful; they are the easiest to talk to and willing to point you in a direction leading to positive results.

But you have to be willing to listen, learn and work hard.

That’s my advice.

Find someone who could be your teacher, coach and mentor. A person who sees the world like you do and is willing to help you on your photography journey.

Ask. What have you got to lose?

There are some foks participating on this forum who are excellent photographers.
my photography was at it's best when i had a good editor...
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Old 04-15-2018   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
Ming Thein.

Reid Reviews http://www.reidreviews.com
Actually I had forgotten about Ming Thein. I agree he is very good.
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Old 04-15-2018   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hogarth Ferguson View Post
I cannot stand ted forbes reviews. He has fallen into the "content machine" issue that lots of youtubers fall into. They start a channel to share knowledge, have good content, then, run out of content and just start producing garbage, or any thought that pops into their head. I can't watch his videos anymore.
I don't know Ted Forbes and *very* seldom turn to YouTube for anything but music nostalgia.
I watched the "Negative Feedback" Kodak factory tour (and a few other postings by them) and found that your description of "any thought that pops into their head" is apt.


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Old 04-15-2018   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
Ming Thein.

Reid Reviews http://www.reidreviews.com
I agree about Sean Reid (I don't disagree about Ming Thein; just don't read him as often). In part, it's because he's photographing subjects and situations analogous to what I shoot. Street, event, and some performance. He also illustrates his reviews with pictures taken in less than ideal lighting; for instance, I remember some photographs of people dancing in a gym with flat not-too-bright lighting to assess the capabilities of the Sony A7S, and his photographs of bike week or whatever it's called in Florida to illustrate a review of one of one of the Ricohs.

That said, I think following a camera/lens reviewer is a bit like following a record reviewer. Over time, you figure out what features are more important to the reviewer than to you.
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Old 04-15-2018   #21
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I’m going to go out on a limb and say Kai W ex Digital Rev TV. He cuts to the chase and uses the thing, says what he likes and says what irritates him. Plus he can be funny. There’s not really much more I need in a review.
The other one I like for their honesty is Thom Hogan, but his reviews are limited to hear in his niche.
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Old 04-15-2018   #22
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I've got a couple of art degrees, and I've found that the best advice about your craft comes from artists who actually make their living from their craft. They're often quite helpful passing on tips that they learned the hard way as they learned how to make their living. This is true for architects, sculptors, painters, graphic designers, and photographers. I found that, while pleasant, praise and advice from non-professionals wasn't very helpful, especially compositional or thematic advice.

If you like a photographer's work, compliment them and then ask how they achieve their results. The photographer will likely tell you in great detail how they did it, and what he or she was looking for when they created that image. Great photos rarely happen by accident... quite the opposite, they often require lots of work before the shutter snaps and during development and dark room, or in Photoshop or whatever digital process you use.

Also, don't become discouraged. Learning anything is hard work. Remember that luck favors the prepared mind.

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Old 04-15-2018   #23
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I teach German according to common "wisdom" that would mean that I can't speak it.....
Teachers are important. Being a good teacher is a great achievment....
So those who can teach help the others to do....and those who can't think for themselves repeat "wise" quotes.
This said I turn to gear Reviews when I want to get informed about gears and to the sites of photographers if I am interested to learn to understand their art.
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Old 04-16-2018   #24
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Ming Thein.

Camera reviews, by the very nature of the subject, have to include some tech capabilities of the camera. Good objective reviews are very difficult to write.
Ming Thein’s reviews are some of the best out there.

Whether a photo has ‘ soul ‘ is more about photography and capture of subject/events than about the camera. It’s like saying Ansel’s images don’t have soul. While Dorothea Lange’s and Margaret Bourke’s Photographs do!
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Old 04-16-2018   #25
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I like Jonas Rask's work and his reviews. Best to understand he's a product photographer for Fuji gear so that may color his impressions a bit but the images he produces are quite nice so he's a fan of their gear. Reviews are basically just means to validate my own purchases though so they are more entertainment than informative.
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Old 04-16-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Landberg View Post
I need to know how the gear works in real life shooting real things.
The problem is that whilst reviewers can give you comparative data and photographers can illustrate that the vast majority of cameras and lenses are highly capable these days, using photographic equipment comes down to personal choices, likes and dislikes. So whilst I could show you photographs, explain what I use to take them and why I use it, I can't tell you whether or not you will enjoy using the same gear that I use. So both reviews and photographs are only a part of the story, the rest is about understanding what you want equipment to do and what works best for you.

I would add that whilst most photographers have some interest in their tools, in my experience not all camera owners are interested in photography. Its all too easy to get caught up in technical specification and forget that in the real world of taking photographs there are many reasons for using specific gear that have little to do with this.
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Old 04-16-2018   #27
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The point of a review, surely, is to show that it works and how it works and behaves but not to show what a good photographer the reviewer is; in any case "good" is a very vague word when applied to a work of art.

More to the point, using a different camera every other day as a reviewer might is not the best way to take good photos, the best usually stick to one camera for decades. OTOH, you could look at the photographs of the camera in the review and hope the reviewer took them.

And, of course, pictures designed to show how the thing performs with or without distortion, vignetting and CA etc, etc are very boring but important.

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Old 04-16-2018   #28
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IMHO, it's quite a difference whether we talk about the most recent gear, or some no-frills gear of the 1960s/70s/80s, e.g.

The most recent gear is all bells and whistles, and the reviews cover chiefly that. (What else?)

But: There are lots of good and very good reviews covering old gear -- AFAIK, several RFF-members have sites and youtube channels where they present old gear -- and I'm quite sure, they're good or even excellent photographers, otherwise they wouldn't be members here, duh?
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Old 04-16-2018   #29
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The first thing that occurs to me is that videos are a pretty gruesome medium for explaining most things.

The second is that making videos is a fourth skill, after (1) being able to think clearly (2) able take pictures and (3) being able to write about/ write a script about what you've just been testing.

The third is that the pictures for reviews are necessarily illustrations, to show people some of the things the camera or lens can do, and with any luck to inspire the reader to try it. Combining illustration and fine art is next to impossible.

Fourth, you rarely have long to review a camera or lens, at least if you are doing it commercially, because the publisher wants the review as soon as the kit is available. In other words, you have to learn to use it; sum up its good and bad points; illustrate those points; and write them up, all under time pressure.

Fifth, no-one in their right mind is going to use untested and unknown kit for anything very important. For that, you'll use the kit you like and are familiar with. Good pictures will therefore be something of a matter of chance, as compared with the stuff you shoot the rest of the year.

I very rarely review kit in magazines any more, not least because there are fewer and fewer magazines. Those who review kit properly, such as Amateur Photographer, have facilities that few if any freelance reviewers can muster. Technical reviews are valuable, but the sort I normally did were aimed more at explaining who might like a particular camera, and why.

Having said all this, I realize I am setting myself up for criticism, but I think that some of the pictures in the following reviews really aren't too bad:

Leica M9 -- Leica M8 -- Zeiss 4/18 Distagon

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Old 04-16-2018   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Landberg View Post
... I need to know how the gear works in real life shooting real things. I can’t be the onlyone asking for this? Those out there are great revirewers if im only looking for technical stuff.

Are there any good camera gear reviewers who are also a good photographers?
Reviewing is only about the technical parts of devices. If you expect to see how stuff works for you - go and try yourself.
That is my conclusion in over 40 years of photography.
For taking good photos the camera doesn´t matter. So I don´t expect good photos from a gear reviewer.

I guess there is a hidden question for many readers of reviews about getting a camera that improves their photographic skills.
That simply does not work.
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Old 04-16-2018   #31
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No reviews here, but I learn more about cameras and lenses here on RFF than anywhere else. I like Ming Thein's site. I agree he's very fair.

I enjoy Mike Johnson's The Online Photographer. He takes writing seriously and he's good at it. I haven't seen his serious photographs. He has some very good insights. He reviews gear occasionally.
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Old 04-16-2018   #32
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My favorite reviewer is by far AvE on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/user/arduinoversusevil
Sadly he does not review camera gear.
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Old 04-16-2018   #33
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A similar consideration might be workshop provider vs. photographer... from a reviewer I am looking for consistency over time and a body of work to understand the review given the perspective, bias, and interests of the writer. In the same way that I would expect a violin maker to be able to play the instrument, the review should include comments on things that an experienced photographer would notice about the gear.

As has been mentioned, photographers, reviewers, and/or workshop providers probably require overlapping but somewhat different skill sets. In a general sense, someone who comes to mind might be Bill Jay (1940-2009) - photographer, writer on & advocate of photography, curator, magazine & picture editor, lecturer, public speaker and mentor... clearly there needs to be a bit of passion...
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Old 04-16-2018   #34
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Quote:
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I will find a video with a person talking about the gear and they sound like they know what they are talking about. But then they show their images and they are bad. Really bad.
If a review has photographs taken with the gear, those photographs should be pleasing, for sure. But how can one be sure that every photograph in a review is pleasing to every possible reader/viewer? And if a particular photograph is considered 'bad' by someone, does that imply that the reader should disregard the review as being somehow invalid? I certainly don't like every photograph I see posted here on RFF for example, but many others do like them. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

If I'm reading a gear review and the reviewer rates the performance of a sensor, or a lens, for example, then it's helpful to present photographs that reveal those details, but those photographs don't necessarily have to rate high on the artistic merit scale.

If a lens is very high resolution, or tends to flare, or has smooth bokeh, or a sensor has fantastic low light performance it might help to illustrate these with photos, but said photos don't necessarily have to be award winners.

Back in the day, Modern Photography published reviews of lenses and film cameras and I don't remember them being presented with photos taken by the reviewers.

I'm far more bothered by so-called 'reviewers' who really don't know what they are talking about when it comes to gear. Anyone can start a blog or video channel and offer up 'reviews', but only a handful truly would have been truly qualified to be such, back in the days of printed magazines.
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Old 04-16-2018   #35
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I've read some very good reviews and seen some very good photographers, but Ming Thein is the only I can think of off the top of my head who is exceptional at both (whether or not his photography is to your taste...).

It's a pity that since he's started working with Hasselblad he doesn't really do reviews any more. Unfortunately I don't think the stuff Robin Wong posts on Thein's website is any where near the same quality...
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Old 04-16-2018   #36
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Originally Posted by nickthetasmaniac View Post
I've read some very good reviews and seen some very good photographers, but Ming Thein is the only I can think of off the top of my head who is exceptional at both (whether or not his photography is to your taste...).

It's a pity that since he's started working with Hasselblad he doesn't really do reviews any more. Unfortunately I don't think the stuff Robin Wong posts on Thein's website is any where near the same quality...
What's very revealing is that even though he works for Hasselblad, an awful lot of his recent photos that he has posted have been taken with a Nikon D850.
A camera that he has not reviewed on his site.
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Old 04-16-2018   #37
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Originally Posted by Hogarth Ferguson View Post
I cannot stand ted forbes reviews. He has fallen into the "content machine" issue that lots of youtubers fall into. They start a channel to share knowledge, have good content, then, run out of content and just start producing garbage, or any thought that pops into their head. I can't watch his videos anymore.
agreed 100%. it started with so much promise.
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Old 04-16-2018   #38
Landberg
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Good points and some good review tips!
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Old 04-16-2018   #39
Dogman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by intheviewfinder View Post
Two I can think of John Szarkowski (you must have "Looking at Photographs"). And Teju Cole - I find some of his writing quite dense but he definitely has an eye.
Agreed. But both are photography critics...they don't review cameras.
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Old 04-16-2018   #40
daveleo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelwj View Post
This is a bit of an oversimplification, "those who can't, teach". Really that's not the case. Taking good photographs and writing a good review are two totally separate skill sets. Writing a good review is actually really hard.

I'm a scientist and a science teacher, teaching is the harder job by a long shot. It's almost like "those who can't teach, do".
^ I feel the same way on these two ideas.

1. Personally, I am a much better viewer (reviewer) than I am a picture maker.

2. Also, I've been an engineer (40 years) and a teacher (10 years) and teaching engineering is a lot harder than doing engineering. Absolutely.
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