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Why Do Photo Gear Reviews Have Crappy Sample Images?

It took me many years to overcome the affliction known as gear acquisition syndrome. You see, I am a self-professed gear head, and I went through a...

It took me many years to overcome the affliction known as gear acquisition syndrome. You see, I am a self-professed gear head, and I went through a period where I needed every new Nikon DSLR and I simply couldn’t get enough watt/seconds from a single strobe pack. Although there is no known cure, I have been able to curtail my purchasing habits, but not my voracious appetite for camera gear reviews. A single review of the new 1D7s Mark 15 isn’t enough. I need to read them all. And while perusing the myriad of sites that offer gear-envious reviews of the newest 4K thingamajig with the phase detection hybrid focusing doodad and the retro-styled burled walnut tchotchke inspired by whatchamacallit, I couldn’t help but notice something that I’d like to run past you…

Is it me or do all gear review sites have the crappiest photos you’ve ever seen?

You know what I mean. A flower! The London Eye! The side of a building at noon!


But wait, there’s more.

Bicycles parked in a row! A glass of beer at a pub! An ethnic-looking person!


Still don’t know what I’m talking about?

A cherry blossom! The inside of a church! A statue!


Sure. Reviewing gear sounds more glamorous than it is. And sometimes with unannounced gear, the reviewer might only have a few days to mess around.  There are limiting factors that prevent great photos from being produced with regularity, Allen. I accept the reality that camera gear reviewers aren’t hired for their picture taking skills. BUT COME ON PEOPLE. IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR A FEW NICE PHOTOS?

I don’t wanna go off on a rant here, but I have a few requests:

  • More than a few photographers have mentioned this “golden hour” concept to me. Now I’m no astrophysicist, but it seems like the golden hour happens not at noon when the bulk of camera review photos seem to be taken.
  • I am biased, but I like photos of people. Could we possibly have more photos of people and less flowers?
  • The backlit image of a beer glass in a bar isn’t really showing me low light capabilities. Help a brother out. Take a photo of a person in a dark corner of the bar instead.
  • If you have a $7,000 camera that shoots 14 fps, maybe you should take it to a sporting event and let us know how it goes.
  • I appreciate that you dug up an MTF chart for me. But even after reading the Wikipedia article, I still have no damn idea how it relates to a photo.
  • If the lens had trouble focusing, show me a sequence of images including the blurry ones. I get it, you nailed the focus on the statue.
  • If there’s a built-in flash, you better give a photo to remind me how crappy built-in flash can be.
  • Showing me a set of challenging situations like a backlit scene or tracking focus while running from a White Walker.
  • When you convert the image to black and white and then Silver Efex it to death, I can’t tell what I’m looking at.
  • Here’s an idea. Hire a full-time photographer to review the gear (or at least take the photos).

If you’re trying to take photos like the average unskilled consumer, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, CAMERA GEAR REVIEWER PERSON. But if you want to show me the capabilities of the gear, and (dare I say) inspire me to try/buy/step away from the computer, then serve up a few tasty photos and I will be forever grateful.

Yeah, you’re on the PhotoShelter blog, but I thought this Fuji X-T1 review (which I had nothing to do with) was nicely done by Todd Owyoung.

And before you troll on me and tell me that I’m a hater, let me remind you that I Love Photography.


Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter. While not busy flossing his teeth, he has written two camera reviews in his life – on the same camera. 


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