Thursday, November 24, 2005

What's the Frequency Kenneth?

Ken Rockwell has lost his mind. What else can it be? He's gone over the edge.

For those of you wondering what the hell I'm talking about, check out Ken Rockwell's Web site. He runs a web site with articles related to photography (plenty of Nikon stuff). I generally don't agree with his conclusions, but enjoy reading his stuff nonetheless. He has a definite sense of humor and a take-no-prisoners approach that I find refreshing. He does not hide the fact that what he writes are his opinions.

Now, I don't usually write about fellow bloggers/webmasters, but this time, Rockwell has gone too far.

Case in point, Rockwell's "review" of the forthcoming Nikon D200 digital SLR camera. I put review in quotes because Rockwell has not even seen the camera yet -- it's scheduled to be released in late December. Yet he has a couple of pages reviewing the camera on his site!

It's bad enough that he's reviewing a camera he has yet to actually hold in his hands, but he draws conclusions about its performance and compares it to other cameras based on the spec sheet alone.

He starts off his review like this:

The D200 is Nikon's latest DSLR. It's a semi-pro camera positioned between the hugely popular D70s and the full-time professional D2X. It has absolutely nothing to do with the 3-1/2 year old D100.

That's true, until you get to the third sentence. The D200 actually replaces the Nikon D100.

Then he goes on to say this:

I expect that this will be the most popular camera used by professional photographers due to its light weight, low cost, high speed and tough magnesium body. In my opinion it obsoletes the D2X, since it does 90% of what the D2X does without the weight and expense.

Well, as my three-year-old daughter would say: "No. No. And more no."

The D200 will definitely not "obsolete" the Nikon D2x. It will definitely obsolete the D100, and maybe even the D70/D70s, but definitely no the D2x.

The D200 and the D2x are two different cameras aimed at different audiences. The D2x is a professional camera, used by plenty of professional photographers (and many non-professionals as well). The D200 is aimed at "advanced amateurs." It does not do "90% of what the D2x does" as Rockwell says. It shares a number of features, like a tough magnesium body, matrix metering and a nearly equal fast frame rates.

But that's about it. Rockwell likes the D200 because it's smaller than the D2x, lighter, less expensive and has a built-in flash. He's a nut for the built-in flash.

He did get one thing right, however:

I expect that this will be the most popular camera used by professional photographers due to its light weight, low cost, high speed and tough magnesium body.

I agree. I think the D200 will prove to be one of Nikon's most popular cameras and many professionals will use it as a back-up to their D2x because it shares a number of the same features.

So what's the big deal, you're probably saying to yourself, one guys writing his opinions about a camera, get over it. Ok. But consider this, in one forum alone, there is a thread (as of yesterday) with 71 posts about Rockwell's D200 review -- and they're almost all negative. Apparently I'm not the only one that thinks its a bit disingenuous to purport to do a review of something that no one has seen yet.

On a related topic, the French photography magazine Chasseur d'Images did an entire review on the D200, using a pre-production sample of the camera. That's almost as bad as doing reviews the way Rockwell does them. The difference between a pre-production sample and the full production camera can be enormous. But usually the changes are for the better in the full production version.

These are just two examples of how not to do a camera review.

But hey, it fills Web and magazine space.

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