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.