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Author Topic: Well Said!  (Read 9124 times)
rothberg
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« on: June 06, 2007, 06:57:11 AM »
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I was one of the hue & cry that expressed disappointment with Michael after the M8 review.  My view of the whole affair was colored by extreme displeasure with Leica for either knowing or not, beta testing their product on their cash paying customers.

Of course the world did not stop turning, and the vice of poor I/R filtering has been paid for with outstanding (even amazing) B&W.

Michael says it about right. The time frame is short and the reviewer has many masters. What matters most, and what I believe this site represents, is an honest look at the facts from a point of view.  You can agree or not but if the reviewer tells it like he sees it, and is honest, open and thoughtful, what more can a reader ask?

I visit the site every day.  Some days I am bored to tears, other posts I reread to make sure I have fully understood.  I feel like I'm getting my money's worth
« Last Edit: June 06, 2007, 08:23:55 AM by rothberg » Logged
allenjnl
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2007, 07:34:09 AM »
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I think your essay on bias is very well written and am quite glad that you said the things you did. I expect you to have some bias regarding your expertise and believe it hard won. I also believe that as a result, the rest of us benefit from your experience and I for one have found The Luminous Landscape to be one of the most useful photography sites out there. Your honest opinions and reviews are quite valuable to me, and I quite agree that the link of communication between yourself and the manufacturers needs to remain open. As you said, it's not an adversarial thing, it's an information thing. Understanding why they chose to do something differently than you might prefer is at least confirmation that it was considered, even if you disagree with the outcome. Keep up the good work, I truly appreciate the opportunity to read the articles posted on your site.
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Kenneth Sky
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2007, 08:07:30 AM »
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I want to echo the above comments. What you have labelled as bias is really a statement of disclosure. That is all your audience requires of you. It might be helpful in the future when you review a product that readers be referred back to this article in advance. Then with a few updates pertinent to the product (such as your statement that you are a Leicophile   ) we can avoid some of the unseemly and "ad hominem" comments that have crept into dicussions on the forum.
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Hank
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2007, 09:14:18 AM »
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Thanks for spelling out the issue so well and thoroughly, Michael.  It's been my intuitive take on the world of reviews, but you're the first to spell it out so clearly.  Iagree that the article would be a useful portal of required reading before giving anyone access to your reviews, but that wouldn't tame the worst of the chest beaters, attention deprived and nit collectors.  I admire your patience with them, even as I wish LL included an internal spam filter for their comments.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2007, 09:35:23 AM »
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Michael,

Very well said. I always value your reviews highly because you make crystal clear just what your own viewpoint is. It happens that your insistence on good ergonomics for a camera matches one of my own biases, so that is helpful for me.

I am reminded of the writings of David Vestal, back in the sixties and seventies or so. I read his reviews and essays avidly, even though I very often found myself disagreeing with his views. But when he dissed a photographer's work, he also made it very clear just what he didn't like and why. And often, what he didn't like was something I did like. So his reviews were valuable to me because. like you, he never tried to conceal his bias.

So please keep on doing what you do so well, and remember: illigitimi non carborundum est.

Eric M.
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JerseyT
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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2007, 11:47:58 AM »
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I agree with Michael's thoughts on reviews.  His point of view is somewhat different from the usual reviewer's, and he has always pointed that out.

There is, however, something else going on here.  Michael is admittedly afflicted with that peculiar mixture of religion and illness that makes him a Leicaphile.  This leads to a huge blind spot - the True Believer can't accept that a serious mistake could be made.  So mention of the problems was suppressed until it became necessary to follow up and report on the problems and solutions.

Michael has already admitted the mistake.  It probably wouldn't have happened with anything other than a Leica.

So I mark this down as an understandable aberration in that excellent and valuable resource known as Luminous Landscape.

Tom Judd
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Ken Tanaka
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2007, 01:37:45 PM »
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Michael,
I was surprised to see you resurrect this incident six months after-the-fact.  It must have raised quite a painful welt for you.  I've been silent on the matter of your M8 review, and of the reviews by other  Internet photo personalities.  Commentary and criticism of this fleeting matter seems rather ephemerally pointless.  But I'd like to offer a few comments for you, and others, to consider since you've again opened the scab.

First a disclaimer.  I own an M8.  Yes, I read your review (and a few others) before I took the plunge in February.  Yes, in retrospect I was a bit disappointed with what turned out to be the leashed style of these Internet reviews.  No, I don't harbor any resentment towards any of the Internet reviewers whatsoever.  I am glad I own the M8, even with its numerous quirks.  I'll still visit LL, read some of your reviews, and look at your video journal.

But I'll not harmoniously chime in with "Well said" like some acolyte.  If I'm taking the time to write this I think it's more useful to you to be honest and frank.  

Reading "A Reviewer's Responsibility" I wondered if its subtitle should actually be either "Bless Me For I Have Sinned" or "Secret Lives of Product Reviewers".  Your essay amounts to a paint of self-absolution through categorical discreditation.  You state,
Quote
There is no such thing as an objective reviewer. If there were, they'd be boring. Boring to tears. A good reviewer, like a good teacher, has experience and insights. They've been there, and done that. They bring some years, even decades of experience to their craft, and one doesn't live too long in this world without developing biases and opinions.

The trick for the reader is to identify what these biases and opinions are, and to then determine if a particular reviewer's biases and opinions jibe with ones own. Whether it's movie reviews, car reviews, book reviews, or yes – even cameras, one needs to know something of the mind-set of a particular reviewer before determining if what they may have to say will have any value – to you!
But this ad hominem disclaimer denies the real problem with your early M8 review.  Your affinity for the M camera and for Leica's heritage was hardly a subliminal message.  You, like many of us, clearly wanted to like this long-awaited camera.  Anyone who has read your M7 review would already know this.  But "bias" was never the problem with your M8 review.  Rather its critical problem was your intentional lack of disclosure;  you admittedly avoided coverage of some significant issues with the camera at Leica's request.  That was the problem with your review, and in fairness, with those of other Internet personalities, also.  This was not a matter of bias, as your essay would suggest.

Michael, frankly you don't really owe anyone an apology for your M8 review or anything else you post on your site.  LL is your personal site and, as you've sometimes reminded viewers, we can take it or leave it; reader beware.  You wrote a very good review of the M8, certainly the best of the early versions that I read.  I can't help wondering why you didn't just eschew the early-access celebrity treatment, buy the camera outright (as you did anyway), and just write the damn review unfettered by devil deals.  So perhaps your review would not have been ready until December or even January.  So what?  You would have had the advantage of writing the only full-disclosure M8 review and would not be haunted by this apparently recurring nightmare in May, 2007.  The lure of special treatment is a very powerful attractant and Leica knows how to cast it skillfully.

My recommendation:  let it go, Michael.  Live and learn, move along, let it heal.  You're doing fine.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2007, 01:41:00 PM by Ken Tanaka » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2007, 01:40:53 PM »
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An excellent article, as usual.  Along with 'bias', we could add 'perception', 'view', 'taste' and 'opinion' among others.  It's impossible for anyone to have a truly objective view of ANYTHING because we are each unique.   I've come to rely on Michael's insights and knowledge over the years I've been wandering around the Luminous Landscape and I appreciate all the work that goes into making this such a remarkable place for photographers.

Mike.
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firefox23508
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2007, 05:40:27 PM »
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Once again, Mr. Reichmann proves what a gentleman he is ... I have enjoyed reading him for years.  Although I do a fare amount of online research before buying a new piece of photographic equipment, I ALWAYS breathe a sigh or relief when I find he has reviewed it.  I can't remember a time when I took exception to anything he had to say.  I have learned a lot from him and others on this forum and I chalk up a lot of the animosity directed to this forum from elsewhere to jealousy. When every other reviewer is "pixel peeping," I feel like I get the real story here.  Mr. Reichmann certainly needs no encouragement from me (or others) but I just hope he knows how much he is valued.
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michael
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2007, 05:44:52 PM »
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Ken,

You may read the piece as one in which I seek absolution. Far from it. In fact the reason I waited six months was so as to avoid any such assumption.

I think the subject is an important one, and a topic that deserves more recognition and discussion that it currently receives. If I wanted the issue to go away, I surely wouldn't have raised it again. I'll take my lumps, where deserved, but have no desire to re-explain what happened in that specific instance. That's past.

Michael
« Last Edit: June 06, 2007, 05:45:04 PM by michael » Logged
BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2007, 08:55:27 PM »
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Reviewing is a difficult art, and the points you make are all valid Michael.

There is one way to makes things easier though, it is to take more time.

I would personnally prefer to read an in-depth review from you 3 month after extensively using a product in the field, when it is cold, when it is hot, when it rains,... than one coming up just after a product release.

I don't think that LL needs to fight in the race to have the first review out, your domain is quality reviews, and we all understand that quality takes time.

Some people who cannot wait to buy a product just after it is released will probably stop to come here if they have 2 wait 2 months, fine, let them go. I sincerely hope that crowd are getting more mature and gradually stopping to buy products just at their release date.

We live in a world were many entities contribute to re-inforcing a feeling of urgency and of desire for more goods, quicker, right now... This IS mostly stupid.

If waiting 3 months is an issue, you could perhaps also structure your reviews more systematically into a 2 step release:

1. Preview with only some first hand comments. You do that for some products,
2. Real review 3 months after the fact, based on in-depth usage. Not needed for all products obviously, but some key items (let's say a P45, Z3100,...) would IMHO deserve a second more in-depth review, away from the pressure of the "first review out" trend.

Just my 2 cent.

Regards,
Bernard
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John Hollenberg
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2007, 09:13:27 PM »
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Quote
I would personnally prefer to read an in-depth review from you 3 month after extensively using a product in the field, when it is cold, when it is hot, when it rains,... than one coming up just after a product release.

This is a reasonable request, but note that may still leave many stones unturned.  Witness the 6 month review by Michael for for the Canon iPF5000, which showcased his continuing good experience with the printer.  However, that experience was not shared by all who bought the printer (see for example my User Experience Report for the iPF5000 on LL).  It often takes a lot of time and the experiences of multiple users to really get a good handle on the pros and cons of any new product.  

--John
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GregW
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2007, 09:26:11 PM »
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Michael,

excellent Essay. Clear, concise and self aware.  I'd like to think all reviewers of products and services have considered the responsibility they have to all their stake-holders.  Sadly in a world of information overload it becomes ever more difficult to find credible sources of information and comment.

On a personal note.  We all make mistakes from time to time.  It's not easy but we accept responsibility, learn and move on.  I feel that the public recognition you have made a mistake, increases the credibility of your reviews, because it demonstrates integrity.
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michael
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2007, 09:43:16 PM »
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Bernard,

I don't do product reviews because I have to, but because I want to. I enjoy experiencing new products for the first time and sharing that experience with others. If I were to wait three months and wring every last bit of experience from it, the product would lose its freshness, and along with it my interest in reporting on it.

This is all supposed to be fun, not work, and I do my best to keep it that way.

And that's why I also do six month follow-ups on some products, and field reports as well as first looks; because sometimes first impressions aren't enough.

Michael
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2007, 12:45:53 AM »
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Bernard,

I don't do product reviews because I have to, but because I want to. I enjoy experiencing new products for the first time and sharing that experience with others. If I were to wait three months and wring every last bit of experience from it, the product would lose its freshness, and along with it my interest in reporting on it.

This is all supposed to be fun, not work, and I do my best to keep it that way.

And that's why I also do six month follow-ups on some products, and field reports as well as first looks; because sometimes first impressions aren't enough.

Michael
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Michael,

Sure, I understand. You like new stuff, don't you?  I would be lying if I were to write than I am different, I am being really thrilled by me new Mac Pro as I write this.

Regards,
Bernard
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seany
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2007, 05:24:26 AM »
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It comes as no surprise that Michael has reopened this particular topic,we all at times struggle to justify things in our past but usually to little avail as the saying goes "the spoken word[written in this case]once uttered can never be recalled" may I complement Ken Tanaka on his excellant response, to my mind it sums up the the incident very well in a fair and civilised manner.
I took the trouble to reread the M8 review as invitedto by Michael's "article"and was as usual quite happy with it,up to the usual high standard we have come to expect from Michael,however his closing comments did make me sit up

"After re-reading this report one final time before publishing it I am almost embarrassed by how "gushing" it appears to be. I don' t think that in all my years of writing camera reviews I've ever been as generous in my comments about a new camera as I have been here with regard to the Leica M8. But, try as I might I find little to fault in any regard. The conversion of the M series from film-based to digital has been accomplished about as well as one could wish, and almost all of the hallmark Leica qualities, refined over more than a half century of making essentially the same model, have been retained.

The bottom line is this. If you know and appreciate what an M Leica is about, you'll find that the M8 fulfills its promise. If you can afford one, then run don't walk to your local dealer. If the M8 and rangefinder cameras in general aren't your cup of tea, that's fine. It just means that M8's will be easier to find by those that do want them, the less people that are waiting in line.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go argue with Leica USA about returning their test sample. As the saying goes – only from my cold dead hands.

Ps: Inevitably someone is going to write on one of the online forums that I must be biased toward Leica to write such a favorable review. Ok. I admit it. I'm biased. Now, get over it!

Three things strike me about this statement [1] it's the classic "hostage to fortune" [2]"But, try as I might I find little to fault in any regard. The conversion of the M series from film-based to digital has been accomplished about as well as one could wish," we now know from Michael this was not the case? [3] the p.s. covers the issue of bias very comprehensively no need for any further explanations I would think.
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lenelg
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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2007, 05:37:46 AM »
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Michael,

Not only is it difficult to write a review without bias - a point of view - but it is meaningless. A product review is a statement about how useful the product is, but such a statement is pointless unless we add the point of view: Useful for what purpose?  Sometimes this is made explicit by the reviewer, sometimes we learn to infer this from our previous experience with the reviewer.

Lennart Elg
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JJP
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2007, 11:17:46 AM »
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Michael,
Regarding M8 review, it boils down to this:
You were stuck between a rock and a hard place, and so, let's not open up old wounds, instead forgive, forget and move on........please,
jj
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JJ
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« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2007, 11:26:25 AM »
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Clearly biased against the unbiased dead.

I dropped an Xti off at my dad's grave to test this unbiased dead thing.  So far the ouji board is only giving me "Get out!" so he must still be working on it.

Anywho, I thought all this stuff was obvious.  You have to learn to read a reviewer before you can read their reviews.  Some car reviewers, for instance, will whine that a car has no power if it has something less than the horsepower of the first stage of a saturn v.  So you ignore that part.  Read the rest.  I don't agree with roger ebert but I know how to translate his movie reviews.
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Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2007, 02:43:16 PM »
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Michael - damned if you do, damned if you don´t!

The best reviewer I ever came across, over a period of many years, was Geoffrey Crawley who, in his many best years, was camera reviewer for the British Journal of Photography. He was a Leica fan and owner there´s no doubt, but that didn´t stop him being the best reviewer of Nikon that I ever came across. So good, in fact, that I felt confident enough to base several of my purchases on his reviews alone; the only glitch was years after the event (of his reveiw of the Pentax 6x7) when I went ahead and bought a new Mk 2. I hadn´t read anything about the horrors of shutter bounce... perhaps Mk 1 didn´t suffer from it as  much, but that was probably more a case of my own mid-life crisis than a fault of Geoffrey´s. And don´t let anyone tell you such a crisis period doesn´t exist in the male life too.

Ciao - Rob C
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