Sunday, November 26, 2006

Why This Blog?

Some Backgrounds

On the Net, there are various places for finding information about photo gear. If an interested user or a potential buyer wishes to gather some information he wants, there are typically two major types of (commercial) websites and then is the minority of non-commercial personal website which he can visit:-

1. Commercial Websites run by "Experts"

Typically, there are numerous "review" sites and some of these are also come with ("user") forums. These sites are mostly run commercially and attract the public to visit so that they can earn their income indirectly from advertisement paid by the camera manufacturers and purchases from "recommended" (associated) shops by their readers.

On the other hand, the camera manufacturers will (e)specially supply test units to these websites for their "reviewing" and thus actually they rely heavily on the camera makers or sales agents for the availability of their test gear. Just say if the test gear comes late or there is no gear supplied, they will have their review put late or no review to come up at all.

The business rule here is indeed very simple: the more visitors or more traffic at the website, i.e., the more increased popularity, the website will have more value and bargaining power to the manufacturers, the shops or any related commercial parties and that they will become influential.

That's just a simple indirect merchandising rule we all know, but sometimes we might have forgotten, just like those traditional "free" TV stations. However, the analogy between "free" TV stations and these "free" internet photo gear review sites is not totally exact. For example, TV stations are regulated strictly by government authorities locally under specific laws for broadcast and media. However, those internet review websites are mostly autonomous and self-governored for their contents, as long as they don’t break the local laws.

Afterall, running this type of websites is indeed not very easy. As there must be a compromise point to be taken carefully between the readers and the parties who pay directly. Actually, those websites must try to provide some information that *considered* to be "useful" by the readers. Otherwise, the visiting hits to the websites will drop and if this situation continues, they can't survive in the end.

A few typical examples of this type of websites for photo gear are the Dpreview.com (currently the most successful one, I think) and Steve's Digicams.com (one of the oldest but I think they are now declining in popularity when compared with their old days).

2. Commercial Websites for User Reviews

Those websites run commercially and the reviews are written by end-users or the consumers. They earn their incomes by selling the user comments and written reports to internet shops, as some kind of more "trustable" advertisement, and also sell to the manufacturers who are collecting user feedbacks.

In contrast to the "experts" in commercial sites, the authors, who are actually invited end-users, are free to write anything up to their own opinions, without any commercial constraints and concerns of their own.

Whilst the comments and opinions contained in those review articles are mostly trustable primitively in nature, i.e., the users will try to tell the public truly for what they think (just because the only reason for them to write is that they want to share their experience), the problem of these written articles by various different persons is on the (in)consistency of comments amongst them.

It is just because these reporting users vary much in their backgrounds such as user level, technical knowledge about gear, photographic skills, as well as their (again different) requirements and expectations. As such, one user thinks that a piece of superior gear may be regarded as ordinary or even inferior by another user(s) or vice versa.

So, at the end, the readers have not much ideas on how to trace the standards and bases which the authors based on, unless they can give more objective presentation such as scientific evidence, instead of subjective comments by words without more supporting grounds.

It should be noted that the site owners for these websites do encourage speeches of both "positive" and "negative" comments as these are truly valuable to both the manufacturers and the readers and these "negative" comments will have no conflict of any kind for them to earn their income.

A typical successful example of this type of websites is the Epinions.com.

3. Non-commercial Websites or Blogs maintained by Enthusiasts (usually those people are the true "experts")

This type of websites are created and run by enthusiastic people who have a good knowledge about photography and gear. They built their own website upon their own drive without any commercial intention and interest involved, at their own money and time, but just for their own sake of interest and hobby.

A good example of this type of websites is the PhotoZone (http://www.photozone.de/), which in recently two years the site owner, Mr. Klaus Schroiff, conducted his own professional reviews using his own resources and by borrowing gear from the site community or on his own gear. However, owing to the limited resources he has, the progress of his reviews are indeed slow to very slow, honestly speaking. And the number of gear tested is also very limited. And that his site have not ever been increased significantly in scale and popularity like those commercial websites could have been, honestly speaking again.

Actually, Klaus has told previously a few times that he would try his best to keep his site non-commercial as far as possible. I fully agree with and support his belief as independency and creditiability are really very important as practically this is somehow closely related to whether the website is intended to make profits or not.

People like Klaus who has a belief on testing his own or his friends' equipment which are purchased off the street is not alone. Another example of these kind of respectable persons is Mr. Thom Hogan, just see his honest "Disclosure" in the beginning of his latest Nikon D80 Review (by Thom Hogan).

So, Why This Blog?

I have been a Pentax SLR and DSLR user for nearly twenty years and actually my first photo was taken in the 70s with a roll of B&W film. For years, I am truely impressed with the unique optical characteristics, excellent optical performance as well as the build quality of those better Pentax glass and all of their SLR bodies I own.

In the digital era, my experiences with Pentax DSLRs and digital lenses are in a mixed bag. Whilst those Pentax products are still having some of their unique characteristics in design and produced results, I have being encountered various (in)accuracy, performance and quality control issues from time to time over the recent 3 years, since I first got my *ist D, the first Pentax DSLR body marketed in 2003.

Recently, I am quite interested in the Pentax DSLR body K10D which I think is the most important and significant Pentax product of the recent many years for Pentax. I have done quite some researches on the net daily and also posted my findings and comments on different net forums as well, such as the Steve's Pentax/Samsung DSLR Forum.

A few days ago, I have made three posts at the Steve's Forum for three different subjects/topics, just for the first time, about the Pentax K10D, for my latest findings on other website articles or forum discussions. However, the site "administrator" or the owner deleted those messages within two days, including a re-posted one.

One of the site "administrators" called "JimC" was "kind" enough to inform and "warn" me that the reason for the deleting action was because they regarded my posts were too negative to appear in their forums and they thought that I did consistently posted "negative" contents which was not allowed and strictly prohibited. So, I know that they are doing their "moderation" jobs in a strict but very biased way so as to filter out any unwanted messages, which someone do not want to see (as Mr. Jim C also told me that he undoubtedly considered that I was a "trouble maker"). IMHO, this is simply called *censorship*.

Whilst Mr. Jim C did say clearly he (just) wanted to send a warning message to me, someone else of the Steve's Forum banned me shortly so that I could not even to make a reply to his "warning".

Previously, I have very similar experience at the Dpreview forum. So, my these (maybe unpleasant) experience let me clearly learn that if I want to share my findings and express my opinions freely and faithfully, I must set up my own website or blog page.

Actually, I have done this already and my homepage was set up last year (URL: http://www.geocities.com/ricehigh). However, I find that to replace the role of those discussion forums which the more popular ones are mostly run commercially (Type 1 case above), it would be better to set up a blog, as those news and user reports come up daily or weekly which means that timing is critical when those news are happened, especial for nowadays fast changing world of photo gear.

Okay, let's go on with my this blog. In the first three news, I shall publish again the contents of my 3 deleted posts for sharing and open discussions are mostly welcomed.

Whenever I have the spare time in the future, I promise that I shall update my this blog from time to time. However, do note that I shall concentrate mostly on user reported concerns, potential problems etc. which are mainly found around the net. It is because there are actually so many and too many "positive" tones all over the net (by the brand fans) and advertisement (manufacturers' marketing) and it is surely more healthy to make a balance, although I know that my effort to make a balance might be in vain, as I'm just so "little" in the huge net community. The only purpose of reporting and sharing those is just for an aspiration of letting Pentax know which areas/problems they should improve/rectify in the future/current products, including their camera and lenses as well as the firmware used in those hardware.

I think I have been rather late to learn that posting and "contributing" to those *commercial* internet websites is actually a waste of my valuable time as they would let you speak as long as they like what you say and will select what they want to be appeared at *their* own sites. Well, I must send my deep thanks to Mr. Phil Askey and Mr. Jim C (and most probably should be to Steve) for that I *finally* learnt an indeed trivial but actually important thing so that I can now save my valuable time to truly contribute to the gear users. Hence, I think it is totally meaningless for me to use my time to "contribute" to their commercial websites anymore to help them make their own money.

Instead, I hope that I can help directly to all the true users and all the potential buyers of a certain (Pentax) product which must be a wiser act for myself. And I am sure that for the coming days, my efforts must be more contributive than those ever in the past.

>> See also: Updating of Blog Editing Direction

31 Comments:

Anonymous said...

You need more white space in your text. Because of the length of the paragraphs, the lines are hard to follow and they are hard to read.

Please bust up the paragraphs into smaller sections with more white space, so the you interesting words can be followed a lot easier.

Enjoy! Lon

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,

Mr Rice High seems to have some sort of problem with Pentax, probably because they don't listen to his rants.

He likes to tell everyone how bad Pentax cameras are but for some unknown reason he just keeps on buying them. I find that strange.

So read his rants if you want, but do so with a handfull of salt.

He is also commonly banned from forums, or has his posts removed because of the continual stream effluent which comes from him, and he like to complain about this too.

Indeed it will be interesting to see if he deletes this.

As for his term mearsurebating... well I think that says it all really.

Anonymous said...

Ricehigh, you have a lot to share with those interested in Pentax gear, but you tend to concentrate on the negative and rarely have any positive comments.

Try to balance your posts and your tests will be of great value to those interested in learning about Pentax DSLR's.

Leave them as blatantly negative as they have been and people loose interest and stop paying attention to what you have to say.

Lots of luck
Tom

RiceHigh said...

Hi! Lon and Tom,

Thank you both for your response and the suggestion.

To Lon: I've added line breaks to my post and it surely looks better now and is easier to read. Thanks.

To Tom: As for the editing direction, I'd still opt to collect significant concerns reflected by end-users on various newly known issues and shortcomings. I don't think that people will lose interests about those news as it would let potential users for checking all these before they are decided. And for existing users, some of them might face the same problem, it would always be beneficial for them if there is place to share the related information, e.g., the symptoms and the possible workarounds, etc.

Cheers,
RiceHigh

Anonymous said...

PLEASE, in the name of all that is Holy, just change to another brand of camera!

Your self-deluded visions of Grandeur and self-importance are together an obvious sign of an unbalanced personality disorder of some sort.

While you aim to be a 'thorn in the side' of Pentax to encourage them to improve their product, I assure you in the strongest terms possible, you and your rants are not even the slightest blip on their radar screen. Whether you lived for a hundred years or disappeared from existence tomorrow, not one more nor one less Pentax product would be sold, aside from those you (paradoxically) purchase yourself.

You're not important. Accept it.

Anonymous said...

You sir, are a dickhead who needs to go back to primary school to learn english properly. Anyway as I said you sir are a major DICKHEAD. *end rant*

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Pentax user and even don't plan to become one. But, boy, you seem like your mission is just to collect all the dirt you can find or mostly imagine or misinterpret. Looking at all your entries it just seems you have a bad case of negative obsession.

I take pity on anyone who'll take your rants seriously and take any decisions based on them.

Anonymous said...

If it is true, as you say that the photo discussions filter out negative camera news, then I'm very glad you have made this page to report it -- Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Great initiative. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Why not take some photos (not test ones) and post them.. Or did you not buy a camera to actually use as a camera?

As others hae said your rants serve little purpose... And are often full of conjecture and poor science...

RiceHigh said...

> Why not take some photos (not test ones) and post them.. Or did you not buy a camera to actually use as a camera?

"Measurbators don't take photos. Even they bother to make some, their "photos" suck" - Ken Rockwell

> As others hae said your rants serve little purpose... And are often full of conjecture and poor science...

I strongly recommend that it'd be better for you and all others, who are having the same *feeling*, to complete skip my pages and all my stuff. That's the best way to go for you folks.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ricehigh, was missing you in some of the forums. ;)

Although your posts where titled a bit to strong for my taste, they contained enough truth to be interresting.

I'm still getting the k10d, just waiting for the shop message that I can come and fetch it, the reason is that imho it still is the camera that the others have to beat, even with the not so crisp images like the others.

Only one thing I was wondering, because you know enough of the Pentax line, I think you do use those camera's, the test's you've done prove that. Did you ever had the chance to test some of the competition, the way it now stands is that your finding of the negative sides only makes them seem better, what i think they do not completely deserv

RiceHigh said...

> Did you ever had the chance to test some of the competition, the way it now stands is that your finding of the negative sides only makes them seem better, what i think they do not completely deserv

Um, I did not extensively test others, but I did have used (not so extensively) particular Canon and Nikon DSLRs including the 30D and D200 (which I did not own them).

My impression are that C and N are in general more accurate cameras than my Pentax DSLRs especially for the metering and AF departments. Canon has its own taste in color response and with the highest resolution but I like more Nikon's color response and texture feel (which is Pentax alike). Anyway, Canon has exceptional clarity in the pictures and maybe exaggerated colors which look impressive (but I particular don't like how the human skins look, both color and texture, as well as the greens for trees and leaves it reproduces).

Whilst Pentax is poor in metering accuracy and the AF is inaccurate and sluggish at low light, the image quality can be very good if both can be overriden either by chance, by bracketing or by experience. Furthermore, if some proper best Pentax glass are used, the results can be unmatching (provided that the camera does not make a joke in poor metering and/or AF, again).

Anonymous said...

Is Phil Askey on 'the take'? Does he accede if the price is right?

Well let me just state a few facts from what happened on the Oly SLR forum.

Up til about feb 06, there was a poster who was 'retired' from joint-ownership of a texas camera store. He still 'dealt' in gear though nd used the forum to advertise prices and indeed 'sells' things.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=16897431

When a mouthy poster started making waves, the 'sxxt hit the fan' and he was banned.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=17317772

Why did he get by with PA turning a blind eye? The Dealer had organised a thig where he'd made

He ran forum contests:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=16123301

He gave all sorts of titbits away: OM lenses, photograpgy videos, this one if for E1 screen protectors: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=15580285

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=15172201

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=15085194

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=14991331
etc.

He gave 'E-1' hats away:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=14429507
and had photo-jackets embroidered with an 'E-1' insignia sewn on and to recieve one post free (world-wide) you had to 'donate' $25 to DPReview.http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=14067540&q=vests&qf=s

Hmmm... 2+2=4?

How much did the dealer give away? Here the rundown from his own hand:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=16472176

'Manakin' was the mouthy guy.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=17334913

The forum was in uproar with blood splattered walls, etc.

So does 'comercial sway' influence Phil @ DPreview? Well the dealer lasted an awful long time 'selling his wares':
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=16948617

Someone asked "Anyone know of anyone who has the 35mm f3.5 in stock in the UK?" and he replied:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=17132976

So there you have it, £5000 and 'phil will avert his eyes to rule transgressions on the fora! Maybe I'm wrong and they're 'freemasons' or somthing?And that's just a lone-merchant... what about the multi-national camera companys who have more muscle!

Interesting?

RiceHigh said...

Really amazing! Thanks for sharing! (Otherwise, we would have never been able to know such a story happened at the DPR Oly DSLR Forum!)

Anonymous said...

Ricehigh Said: "Really amazing!"Yeah, isn't it!

The camera dealer really had a nice thing going for a while: he had the forum regulars in his back pocket as a result of his liberal largesse and he then sorted phil out!

Everybody was happy! and they were very unhappy (witness the vitriol against 'manakin') when he was banned.

I myself always wanted to speak up over this but I wouldn't have lasted on the forum and would probably have been banned for saying the owner was 'accessable to donations' or worse.

Anyway, thanks for the oportunity to air it.

yours
deep-throat

Anonymous said...

RH, thank you for your persistence to alert Pentax DSLR users of the 'AA' battery issue. I have such an issue with my K100D and would have never known the source of the problem had it not been your posts. I only wish I knew about it before I purchased it (no thanks to the other 'commercial review sites'). At least I now know how to be prepared when I go on all-day shooting trips and how to address the problem on a more permanent basis.

You are providing valuable service to others. Thanks again.

RiceHigh said...

You are welcome and I am glad that I could help. :-)

fibbo said...

I cant really understand why people call you "dickhead". If they dont like your critical voice they can make thematical corrections but nobody shall offend other Users in the net with personal aggression. So i wish you dont care too much and go on! fibbo

RiceHigh said...

fibbo, thanks for your encouragement. And yes, I will (go on). :-)

Nigel Allan said...

I've read this for the first time and an amazed at your detractors. Have they nothing better to do than to attack you?

If they don't like what you write they dont have to read it. And you can call it negativity but someone has to point out the flaws (if there are any) that need fixing without being castigated for it. I am an LX and K2 user of over 30 years and am considering my first 21st century Pentax.

One of the questions I have is how responsive the AF system is compared to Canon for example as that could influence my purchase with a digital camera (possibly, although I am a Pentaxaholic).

If the AF is sluggish this is an area you wouldn't hear about from a camera dealer and is hard information to get objectively from anyone, so if they call you negative because you draw my attention to something like this (for example) before I buy then then it is they who are deluded because such a 'flaw' needs to be discussed and reviewed and possibly improved as it is relative and hard to justify returning such expensive goods as 'faulty'.

I am very seriously considering a K20 or possibly a K7 but need to know how quick/responsive the AF is when coupled with a compatible lens. There's a reason press and sports photographers jump on the Canikon bandwagon even though Pentax have a history of innovation and making some of the most divinely beautiful cameras ever made (witness the LX a true thing of beauty and perfect ergonomics for its time when Nikon made things that looked and felt like Stephensons Rocket).

I want it beautiful but I also want it fast and accurate. Of the big five DSLR manufacturers (Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, Olympus) only Pentax has the track record and ability to do both and let's hope they realise and play to their strengths

Nigel Allan said...

One other thing. This is the first time I have ever contributed to a blog or similar and didn't realise till I finished the above note that you can choose to be 'Anonymous' or give your name. It's interesting how some of your vitriolic attackers choose to be anonymous. They do not have the courage of their convictions obviously and are not worth listening to

RiceHigh said...

Thanks and Yes.

Sofyandi said...

I think this site is honest. You have critical mindset for the brand.That is good, since a lot of fanboys and ads around us. I wish canon and nikon fans have an user like you. It makes a balance news.

Despite all of your critique, I still want to buy pentax camera afterall, since it's unique and people (ME!!!) need to be different.

A little advice from a friend: please tell anyone a positive things about your gear by showing them your own photo. I believe you have great gear. So a good photo (with superior brand like pentax) should be not a big problem for you. I am sure you are a great photographer too.

And I think we should tell pentax CEO to read this site and forums. Good image from pentax sensor (Sony?) + reliable metering + great AF systems (SAFOX X perhaps?) + The right price (Pentax main advantage) = Ultimate camera.

Please forgive my english.

RiceHigh said...

Thanks guy! And all the my best wishes to you for using your Pentax gear and enjoying taking photos! See you~

Claudio said...

Reading some of the posts, seems that truth hurts. Or truth isn't for shortminds. "why this blog" i think is the perfect description for it. If you don't like it, just click the little house on the browser and go somewhere else. I've come to this site from time to time and always found something that interests me. I'm also took mi first shot with a Pentax (ME Super and the M 50 1.4) and was a bond that continues today. I think you don't buy a Pentax, you marry to it, with all it's pros and cons. That strong is the relation with this particular brand/glass/shutter sound/etc. I don't know where are you from Rice, i'm from Chile (so sorry for the bad english) but congrats for the blog and keep on!
Best regards

RiceHigh said...

Thanks, Claudio!

Thomas Tempelmann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas Tempelmann said...

RiceHigh, you have valuable content here that I'd find nowhere else. I had always been wondering why some of my flashed pictures where overexposed. Now I found the explanation here - it depends on the ISO setting (and is clearly a bug in the K-5 firmware).

Keep it going, you're doing a great job. Thanks.

RiceHigh said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Thomas.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed your blog Rice, good job.
I remember when it was cool to be a nonconformist.

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