Friday, 3 December 2010

Useful Photography Web Sites - Technical

This post started out to be a list but, as I wrote it, I started adding some commentary.

I must stress that any comments I do make, in this post, are simply based on my own observations, and experiences. They should not be taken as any form of endorsement, or otherwise.

Over the years, I have stumbled across some technically oriented photography web sites, which I find useful, and thought I would share some of them here. I have also stumbled across many that are not so, but I will not share those here.

No web site should ever be viewed as the 'gospel' on digital cameras, particularly those which are commercially based. In reality, their whole purpose of existence is to sell you something.

I should stress that any time I am researching cameras, with a view to purchase, I spend far more time looking at any sample images I can find, and also reading users experience reports.

Whenever I find original, full sized sample images, I download them and put them through my normal post processing work flow. This is, after all, what I will be doing if I were to purchase the camera. Reading a review is usually lowest on my decision making list.

Reading reviews of cameras/equipment should certainly be part of the decision equation, but you should keep in mind that any review site is a sales outlet. There is nothing wrong with that, but I would rather hear what photographers who use equipment in real life situations have to say and, more importantly, look at the results they are getting.

One of my own experiences was that I purchased a camera back in early 2003, my third digital, and this particular camera did not rate well in on-line reviews. However, I had already purchased it before I read the reviews.

Conversely, in late 2004, I purchased a camera which was very highly rated in on-line reviews, and also because the publisher, I was working with, had several lenses available for use. The latter being quite enticing.

My experience with both ?

The first was eminently usable, both in the studio and also in the field and I still use it occasionally. It's output is still superb and, to date, I have shot close to 20,000 images with it.

The second ? Well, I was miserable with it from the get-go and we parted company quite quickly. I rarely sell cameras, but this was a waste of time keeping. I had planned to use it on a series of book projects I was involved with, but after a few thousand images it was clear that it was not suitable. This experience also left me wary of that particular 'brand'.

Anyway, enough rambling - To the point of the post.

Technical Photography Sites

Certainly not an exhaustive list but all of these sites I visit regularly.

Note : Clicking on a site name will take you to that sites home page

DP Review
Keep in mind that I am not placing these in any 'ranked' order, but I put this first as it was really the first technical site I used to research a digital camera, I wished to purchase, way back in 2002. The site presents news and reviews of digital cameras. The reviews, they undertake, are comprehensive and it also has some of the most active discussion forums for digital cameras. That being said; the forums are, largely, non-moderated and it can be difficult to find useful information amongst the 'grand-standers'.

Cambridge In Colour
This site started in 2005 and, initially, was more about photography around Cambridge University. It has since grown to include many excellent tutorials, technique and technical articles, and also forums. It is also one of the few sites around which is not trying to sell you something.

Steve's Digicams
A broad range of camera reviews, news, technical articles and forums.

Imaging Resource
Again, reviews, news, technical articles and forums. One of the most useful features of this site, is it's 'Comparometer'. This allows you to select different models and view images side by side.

The Luminous Landscape
This site deals more with 'high end' cameras but has many tutorials and technical articles.

Digital Camera Resource
A broad range of camera reviews, news, technical articles and forums.

Perhaps more Nikon centric, but more recently encompassing other brands, there are many reviews, tutorials and technical articles.

Digital Photography School
Camera reviews, tips, tutorials, forums.

As I mentioned earlier, I will add to this over time. There are other sites I find useful but I don't necessarily think of them until I am looking for something specific and, at the moment, I can't think of them.

A quick note on the forums which some of these sites run :

Forums are simply made up of a collection of people from disparate experiences and whose common bond (hopefully) is photography.

Over the years, I have participated in many photography forums. I even signed up to a new one today. I am quite active on only one forum, and an occasional visitor to a couple of others.

On literally any forum you will find real experts and those who profess expertise. Those who truly have any worthwhile expertise to share, are those who can not only explain why, but also show why with their own output.

As in any area of life, there are those who only want to hear the sound of their own voice and bully others into submission to their opinions, then there are those who actually have something worthwhile to impart and can demonstrate their knowledge in their imagery.

Some sites moderate their forums, some don't. Un-moderated, or poorly moderated, forums can be a mine field for the unwary.

On many, you often see long term 'armchair experts' view new members as easy prey to impress with their so called knowledge. Many of these people post endlessly, don't use the equipment they profess expertise in, and can demonstrate nothing with their own images.

If you are thinking of participating in a forum, try and get a feel for 'who is who'. Look at things like posting history, politeness in responses, demonstrable photography output, etc. When opinions are given, ask for the opinion givers own output to support their claims.

It's really quite simple - Don't believe opinions, believe results.

And just for fun - A worth reading post from The Online Photographer. If you're not certain who the photographers are, look them up.

Click here for the Online Photographer article

Anyway, hope some of the above is helpful.

Update : More recently (February 2011), I and a couple of friends have started the EyeMindSoul Photography forum. It is more photography centric than technical.

Membership is by application and if you would like to join in, then please follow the link here



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