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How things have changed

Pete

Photography and music are my two passions. I edited photography magazines for around 20 years and launched the UK's first digital imaging magazine. I founded ePHOTOzine and was owner / publisher until 2013. The photos in my portfolio are ones I like from shoots I do in any spare time I have.
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How things have changed

10 May 2012 10:16AM   Views : 648 Unique : 433

I just saw a lens review on a camera equipment hire company's web site. It made me reflect on how the publishing industry has changed in the past decade or so.

When I started reviewing equipment for magazines, I was in a position of authority. It was before the web, so the only advice photographers could get would be from friends (did they really know), local camera shop experts (could they really be trusted) or one of the few magazines in circulation (assumed a trusted source). If you were blessed with an ability to read another language you could pick up a foreign photo magazine from the airport or abroad. That was more or less it.

As a reviewer of the leading photo magazine, Practical Photography, I always got one of the first products in the country. The companies usually had two or three samples and we, along with Amateur Photographer, were top on pecking order.

We received the cameras before they reached the dealers, and way before the deadline for the magazine, that would be out when the cameras first appeared in the shops. We had a month or so to use the camera and perform a thorough test. We thought we had a challenging job. The camera was probably several months old by the time the public heard about it.

Now, as soon as a camera appears from the factory product line it's announced. They are rushed into individual countries and a few more samples are available for test, but often at the same time they appear in the shops. The demands from reviewers has risen ten-fold. Now, not only do you have the hardcore photo mags (of which there are four times as many as there where when I started), but also tech mags, lifestyle mags, newspapers technology supplements, online resources, freelance journos and a stream of bloggers (often enthusiasts who can set up a web site), not to mention camera retailers and random other streams, like our camera repairer that prompted this thread. Hundreds all wanting the same few cameras. Fortunately ePHOTOzine has always been higher up the pecking order than most, but what we thought was challenging back in the day is now a totally different ball game.

Not only that, because the camera is out in the retailers at the same time as we get one, there's often some enthusiast / anorak who queues up to buy one and then writes a fully comprehensive review and publishers it on his blog that night. Not to forget the umpteen other countries magazine web sites and bloggers who are all fighting to be first to publish.

We used to have a month to use a camera, thoroughly test it and write a review, now we often only have days, sometimes a few hours!

Where does that leave the trusty old paper based photo magazine? Well you can guess - they're struggling big time.

Comments


conrad 11 10.9k 116
10 May 2012 9:29PM
Being a brave new world doesn't always mean that this new world is easier!

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SlowSong Plus
7 5.8k 29 England
11 May 2012 11:08AM
I often read internet opinions and critiques of new equipment but have always waited for respected magazines to do their in-depth try outs before actually buying. Both have their advantages. You may read about niggles and glean snippets of useful information from the internet reviewers that magazines don't always pick up on or publish. Most recently I was aching for a Fujifilm X10 but having waited and read everything, and taking in all the pros and cons, finally decided on a Canon S100. I can't see the internet taking over from a proper photography magazine. If that were the case we wouldn't have seen the mushrooming of new titles over the last few years.
joshwa Plus
5 765 United Kingdom
19 May 2012 5:07PM
It seems that retailers get the information first, and it's often them that leak the information before journalists have even seen or heard about the products...
croberts 11 2.2k 8 Ireland
11 Jul 2012 12:58AM
Make your reviews better than everyone elses, then. Not rocket science! Its a really feckin competitive world out there. no point in complaining.... I wonder about camera reviews anyway, they rarely if ever tell me what it was like to use the camera, how it felt, did it get in the way etc.. just a lot of measurebating, and rewording of spec announcements... and usually from someone who cant shoot a bloody picture anyway, no matter what they have to work with..

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