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Author Topic: Impartiality of editorial v. advertising on the Luminous Landscape site  (Read 11751 times)
David Watson
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« on: February 04, 2011, 04:18:11 PM »
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I read with great interest and not a little sympathy about Michael's desire to be more commercial about this site.  I am sure that we are all grateful for the many items of advice and excellent product reviews which have been done on, if I understand it correctly, what is strictly on a non-profit pro-bono basis.  In fact I have made many purchases of printers, software and cameras and lenses based on Michael's excellent reviews.

But (there is always a but) I have a concern - not about 95% of the products we all use, and read about on Micahel's site, but exclusively about the pronounced bias that this site shows towards the products manufactured by Phase One at the expense IMO of the only other player - Hasselblad.  Michael is aware of my views and that these views are echoed by many many photographers both professional and amateur.  In fact we have exchanged emails on this subject and the root of the problem seems to be some sort of personality clash between Michael and the former chief of Hasselblad about the "closure" of their system.  On this subject I think that many people accept the inevitability of all MF format systems ending up as closed systems and it is not the purpose of this post to re-hash these arguments.

We have just seen a series of sequential articles extolling the features and benefits of the new Phase One IQ80 digital back but to my recollection I have never seen a review of the latest Hasselblad system to enable me to compare and judge for myself.  Given the imminent appearance of advertising are we to now have sequential product reviews associated with a variety of promotions and offers from Phase One?

Now I would like to quote Michael's own words when setting out his new advertising policy:-

About our Corporate Relationships

No one involved in the photographic industry as long as we have been can be apart from it. One gets to know a great many of the executives who work in it, and in some cases who run or even own the various companies that comprise the industry.

But, just because we know people and may even have personal relationships with some of them doesn't mean that we can not be objective. We have, and indeed have always had strong policies on loaners and test samples. Our policy on this is clearly stated in our Full Disclosure statement, which has been online for the past couple of years.

As far as our policy regarding advertisers goes, the rules are similar. There is a so-called Chinese Wall between our editorial and our advertising activities. Absolutely no preference or favoritism is or will be shown to any company or product, whether they advertise on this site or not. Period!

Michael Reichmann
Last Updated – January, 2011


One further quote from Michael's own bio.:-

My Biases
I have been a photographer since I was a child; more than half a century now. I teach, write, review and consult, but I am first and foremost a photographer. This makes my primary bias one of appreciating photographic products that help me accomplish my task. Ones that get in the way because of bad design, poor ergonomics, or sub-standard image quality are what I dislike, not companies.

I couldn't care less about "brands" and corporations, countries of origin, or anything that doesn't directly contribute to providing me with tools that do the best possible job of turning what I see and want to record into finished images.



Now I like and respect Michael admire his integrity and value his opinions in every respect but one and that his continuing animosity towards Hasselbald.  If these statements are to have any substance I would ask Michael to bury the hatchet, put aside his past grievances and open the door to a fair and balanced review or opinion about the Hasselblad system.

As a final point I would just like to say that, although I am a Hasselblad user at present and value the many benefits of their system, I also appreciate that Phase One are a great company also with many fine products.  Their respective systems just need to be compared, as Michael almost says on their merits and without any baggage.

I am not employed by Hasselblad or any of its dealers but just a part time professional with a great deal of admiration for both companies.





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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2011, 04:56:32 PM »
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There is no hatchet that needs buying. I have great respect for Hasselblad. Any time that company would like me to test or review its products they just have to make the offer.

I also have no particular allegiance to Phase One. They have engaged my in dialog for several years, offered me products for review, and when it came time to buy a replacement for my Kodak DCS Pro back (used on a Hasselblad H1, I might add) I chose a P45 because it seemed like the best choice at the time. Since then I have become friendly with one of the VP's, but that's a personal not a business matter.

I switched to a Phase AF and then DF body because I was unable to stick with my H1 then H2 bodies because of Hasselblad's closure of the platform. I likely would have stuck with Hassy bodies and lenses if I had the choice. As did many hundreds if not thousands of otherwise loyal Hassy users.

I regarded Hasselblad's decision to close their bodies to other company's backs as bone-headed then, and nothing has made me change my mind since.

Finally, I have nothing against reviews of Hassy equipment. They just have never offered me any. Mark Dubovoy went out of his way a year ago to test an H3D II 50 Multishot on  these pages. Mark is also an ex-Hassy user who switched for the same reason that I did – we tested and ended up preferring Phase One backs and then like me he got locked out of the Hassy body and lenses.

So – please get off the kick that I have anything against Hasselblad the company or Hasselblad the camera.

Any time they or one of their dealers would like to make their latest gear available for me to test, I'll jump at the chance.

Michael

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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2011, 10:09:57 PM »
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I am a Hasselblad user

may be you can share your H w/ Michael so that he can review it ?
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2011, 11:02:44 PM »
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may be you can share your H w/ Michael so that he can review it ?
Good idea!
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2011, 12:47:52 AM »
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I switched to a Phase AF and then DF body because I was unable to stick with my H1 then H2 bodies because of Hasselblad's closure of the platform. I likely would have stuck with Hassy bodies and lenses if I had the choice. As did many hundreds if not thousands of otherwise loyal Hassy users.

My H1 system sits dormant in the closest for the same reasons, and I've just never gotten around to try and sell it.
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2011, 02:04:39 AM »
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Hi,

Everyone has a bias. Some stuff we like, some we don't.

That said, some companies do something very smart, they communicate. That is what Phase One does with Claus Mølgaard's funny videos with deeply frozen Pxx backs and so on. That is what Leica did when they invited a bunch of well known photographers to Solms and discussed the M9 and the S2.

Regarding Michael Reichmans's bias he wants to put the back of his preference on his camera. He also wants a camera that doesn't loose the front lens assembly in the middle of Namibia, and a vendor that would replace such a lens ASAP and without cost.

Another issue is that Hasselblad may not be the ultimate camera. Recently, Lloyd Chambers was testing a Hasselblad H4 and found it lacking in several respects. Above all, neither one of the two lenses he tested were satisfactory. He also tested the Leica S2. With the S2 he found usability issues but the lenses were in another league than the Hasselblad lenses. He demonstrated this with both images and MTF data. May be Hasselblad needs to work on their lenses.

Lloyd found the S2 much more suited to his kind of shooting than the Hasselblad. Right now he is testing the Pentax 645D, in his view the most workable MF camera this far, but he has issues with most lenses.

Hasselblad may be have the best set of accessories, they may have the widest options of rentals, be best at tethered shooting and so on, but they may not be the best for what Michael does.

As a final notice. This site is much about the experience by Michael Reichmann and his co writers. It's not a site with benchmark data.

Best regards
Erik




I read with great interest and not a little sympathy about Michael's desire to be more commercial about this site.  I am sure that we are all grateful for the many items of advice and excellent product reviews which have been done on, if I understand it correctly, what is strictly on a non-profit pro-bono basis.  In fact I have made many purchases of printers, software and cameras and lenses based on Michael's excellent reviews.

But (there is always a but) I have a concern - not about 95% of the products we all use, and read about on Micahel's site, but exclusively about the pronounced bias that this site shows towards the products manufactured by Phase One at the expense IMO of the only other player - Hasselblad.  Michael is aware of my views and that these views are echoed by many many photographers both professional and amateur.  In fact we have exchanged emails on this subject and the root of the problem seems to be some sort of personality clash between Michael and the former chief of Hasselblad about the "closure" of their system.  On this subject I think that many people accept the inevitability of all MF format systems ending up as closed systems and it is not the purpose of this post to re-hash these arguments.

We have just seen a series of sequential articles extolling the features and benefits of the new Phase One IQ80 digital back but to my recollection I have never seen a review of the latest Hasselblad system to enable me to compare and judge for myself.  Given the imminent appearance of advertising are we to now have sequential product reviews associated with a variety of promotions and offers from Phase One?

Now I would like to quote Michael's own words when setting out his new advertising policy:-

About our Corporate Relationships

No one involved in the photographic industry as long as we have been can be apart from it. One gets to know a great many of the executives who work in it, and in some cases who run or even own the various companies that comprise the industry.

But, just because we know people and may even have personal relationships with some of them doesn't mean that we can not be objective. We have, and indeed have always had strong policies on loaners and test samples. Our policy on this is clearly stated in our Full Disclosure statement, which has been online for the past couple of years.

As far as our policy regarding advertisers goes, the rules are similar. There is a so-called Chinese Wall between our editorial and our advertising activities. Absolutely no preference or favoritism is or will be shown to any company or product, whether they advertise on this site or not. Period!

Michael Reichmann
Last Updated – January, 2011


One further quote from Michael's own bio.:-

My Biases
I have been a photographer since I was a child; more than half a century now. I teach, write, review and consult, but I am first and foremost a photographer. This makes my primary bias one of appreciating photographic products that help me accomplish my task. Ones that get in the way because of bad design, poor ergonomics, or sub-standard image quality are what I dislike, not companies.

I couldn't care less about "brands" and corporations, countries of origin, or anything that doesn't directly contribute to providing me with tools that do the best possible job of turning what I see and want to record into finished images.



Now I like and respect Michael admire his integrity and value his opinions in every respect but one and that his continuing animosity towards Hasselbald.  If these statements are to have any substance I would ask Michael to bury the hatchet, put aside his past grievances and open the door to a fair and balanced review or opinion about the Hasselblad system.

As a final point I would just like to say that, although I am a Hasselblad user at present and value the many benefits of their system, I also appreciate that Phase One are a great company also with many fine products.  Their respective systems just need to be compared, as Michael almost says on their merits and without any baggage.

I am not employed by Hasselblad or any of its dealers but just a part time professional with a great deal of admiration for both companies.






« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 02:24:00 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

David Watson
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2011, 03:05:54 AM »
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There is no hatchet that needs buying. I have great respect for Hasselblad. Any time that company would like me to test or review its products they just have to make the offer.

I also have no particular allegiance to Phase One. They have engaged my in dialog for several years, offered me products for review, and when it came time to buy a replacement for my Kodak DCS Pro back (used on a Hasselblad H1, I might add) I chose a P45 because it seemed like the best choice at the time. Since then I have become friendly with one of the VP's, but that's a personal not a business matter.

I switched to a Phase AF and then DF body because I was unable to stick with my H1 then H2 bodies because of Hasselblad's closure of the platform. I likely would have stuck with Hassy bodies and lenses if I had the choice. As did many hundreds if not thousands of otherwise loyal Hassy users.

I regarded Hasselblad's decision to close their bodies to other company's backs as bone-headed then, and nothing has made me change my mind since.

Finally, I have nothing against reviews of Hassy equipment. They just have never offered me any. Mark Dubovoy went out of his way a year ago to test an H3D II 50 Multishot on  these pages. Mark is also an ex-Hassy user who switched for the same reason that I did – we tested and ended up preferring Phase One backs and then like me he got locked out of the Hassy body and lenses.

So – please get off the kick that I have anything against Hasselblad the company or Hasselblad the camera.

Any time they or one of their dealers would like to make their latest gear available for me to test, I'll jump at the chance.

Michael



Thank you Michael - a positive and as always helpful response.  I hope that Hasselblad will respond to your invitation and get you some equipment to try.

Erik - thank you also for your comments.

IMO when discussing these issues we have to understand what this kind of web site is all about nowadays.  LuLa has moved beyond (well beyond IMO) simply a blog for Michael and his friends and colleagues.  It has become something of an institution and many thousands of readers and contributors rely on it for advice and expect (reasonably in my view) impartiality.  One can argue this point but once LuLa starts accepting advertising then we are in a different ball game and, again IMO, the site does not just need to be impartial it needs to proactively demonstrate impartiality.  That does not prevent the expression of an opinion by the writer once all the facts are there.  The reader can then make his or her own mind up and rely or not on the opinion of the writer.

Now turning to the issue of bias - we can have a positive bias (the site exhibits a structural preference for one supplier or another) or an inadvertent bias (the site simply does not mention a competing product).  IMO LuLa has an inadvertent bias against Hasselblad because the contributors have not sought out products to review and Hasselblad has been less than proactive in engaging with the site.

Who loses by this?  Perhaps Hasselblad but that is not my point as the real losers are the thousands of readers who are prevented from making their own minds up about the merits or otherwise of a particular product.

What would I like to see in this particular instance?  I would like to see a new comparison of the two MF systems - cameras, backs, software, lenses and support not just a focus on which back is best.  I am not qualified to carry out that test but a great article would be a head to head studio and location test of a Phase One p65 and Hasselblad H4D60 each with three lenses most used by pros in the studio and on location. This review IMO should set out the features and benefits of each system in respect of both types of shooting so that the reader can determine which is best for his own purposes. Michael says that he would welcome the opportunity to review the Hasselblad and I think that we can trust he to be impartial and objective in his comments.

Bring it on!

« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 03:18:31 AM by David Watson » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2011, 04:08:51 AM »
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Hi,

Thanks for your careful comments. A few points:

Luminous Landscape is not a test site, it's about experience.

The Diglloyd site I mentioned does more meticulous tests, but Lloyd is also much about experience. The equipment Lloyd tested did not come out on top. In general I'd suggest that Hasselblad could do more to get favorable tests, like giving well known test sites well calibrated equipment to test.

On the other hand, if you are satisfied with your stuff, why do you need tests? Tests will never tell you what your experience would be with your equipment. Just take an example, the Canon 100-400 IS gets very good test results, but in many cases independent users are less than satisfied (yes, it's very convenient but not really sharp). It may be that the lens is very sensitive to wear. Testers get a brand new copy and get very good results, owners may then find the lens less than excellent. This is just a guess. But in the end what you have is what matters.

Recommended reading: http://www.josephholmes.com/news-medformatprecision.html

Best regards
Erik


Thank you Michael - a positive and as always helpful response.  I hope that Hasselblad will respond to your invitation and get you some equipment to try.

Erik - thank you also for your comments.

IMO when discussing these issues we have to understand what this kind of web site is all about nowadays.  LuLa has moved beyond (well beyond IMO) simply a blog for Michael and his friends and colleagues.  It has become something of an institution and many thousands of readers and contributors rely on it for advice and expect (reasonably in my view) impartiality.  One can argue this point but once LuLa starts accepting advertising then we are in a different ball game and, again IMO, the site does not just need to be impartial it needs to proactively demonstrate impartiality.  That does not prevent the expression of an opinion by the writer once all the facts are there.  The reader can then make his or her own mind up and rely or not on the opinion of the writer.

Now turning to the issue of bias - we can have a positive bias (the site exhibits a structural preference for one supplier or another) or an inadvertent bias (the site simply does not mention a competing product).  IMO LuLa has an inadvertent bias against Hasselblad because the contributors have not sought out products to review and Hasselblad has been less than proactive in engaging with the site.

Who loses by this?  Perhaps Hasselblad but that is not my point as the real losers are the thousands of readers who are prevented from making their own minds up about the merits or otherwise of a particular product.

What would I like to see in this particular instance?  I would like to see a new comparison of the two MF systems - cameras, backs, software, lenses and support not just a focus on which back is best.  I am not qualified to carry out that test but a great article would be a head to head studio and location test of a Phase One p65 and Hasselblad H4D60 each with three lenses most used by pros in the studio and on location. This review IMO should set out the features and benefits of each system in respect of both types of shooting so that the reader can determine which is best for his own purposes. Michael says that he would welcome the opportunity to review the Hasselblad and I think that we can trust he to be impartial and objective in his comments.

Bring it on!


« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 07:22:37 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2011, 04:30:14 AM »
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Hi,

Thanks for your careful comments. A few points:

Luminous Landscape is not a test site, it's about experience.


Hi Erik

Interesting stuff and very detailed thank you for the link.  Couldn't agree more about having a properly calibrated camera for a test and have said as much to Hasselblad.  I agree about the experience v. tests.  THis is why I think that a hands-on studio and location test of both systems (with identical sensors) would give the readers the best advice.

Let's see what, if anything happens.

Best wishes

David
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2011, 06:40:17 AM »
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I'll weigh in cautiously!  I don't believe that this site is set up to be the "Consumer Reports" on cameras, tools, etc.  In my view the primary function is to provide a forum for discussion, the posing and answering of questions (even if one might not like the answer) and let the greater community know what is new.  There are others out there whose sites are primarily designed to test stuff (and of course we all at some time take issue with their testing protocols and results).  From time to time there have been head to head tests of things (most recently the Devlin/Segal MF comparison of the Pentax and Phase One cameras; and even that was pretty resource intensive on the part of the individuals who did the work).  As long as we respect the fact that these tests are not designed to be the final word on "A" is better than "B", I think such postings are informative.  I know from my own vantage point that I'm never going to own (or even contemplate buying), 98% of the equipment that is so heatedly discussed but nonetheless find the discussions fascinating.
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2011, 01:25:15 PM »
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What happened to the concept that a man's forum is an extension of his home?

Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2011, 06:17:08 PM »
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Hahahaha! That's a good one, Rob!

What happened to the concept that a man's forum is an extension of his home?

Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2011, 12:02:59 PM »
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Hasselblad's marketing is questionable in my opinion.  The recent (Feb 4th, 2011) introduction of the Hasselblad online store is another interesting development.  It basically offers an opportunity to bypass ordering from a hasselblad dealer and instead provides customers with the option of ordering directly from Hasselblad, without any commission going to a dealer and 100% of the price going to Hasselblad. This is a complete departure from how cameras are sold.

While you can indicate on the order form which dealer you work with, this is an option and not a requirement.  You can simply say you do not have a dealer.  This basially means that Hasselblad dealers are going to lose sales. How much remains to be seen.  I don't see how this can help the relationship between Hasselblad and their dealers either.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 12:05:54 PM by alainbriot » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2011, 12:19:14 PM »
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Hasselblad's marketing is questionable in my opinion.  The recent (Feb 4th, 2011) introduction of the Hasselblad online store is another interesting development.  It basically offers an opportunity to bypass ordering from a hasselblad dealer and instead provides customers with the option of ordering directly from Hasselblad, without any commission going to a dealer and 100% of the price going to Hasselblad. This is a complete departure from how cameras are sold.

While you can indicate on the order form which dealer you work with, this is an option and not a requirement.  You can simply say you do not have a dealer.  This basially means that Hasselblad dealers are going to lose sales. How much remains to be seen.  I don't see how this can help the relationship between Hasselblad and their dealers either.
Nikon has been doing this for some time and there have been several examples where new lenses were available from the Nikon on-line store before the dealers.  Additionally, they were at full price and not the slighter discount expected from some of the mega-suppliers (you know who they are; one has a link on this site).  I don't think this is such a new departure and is similar to many other products these days.
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2011, 12:24:52 PM »
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Hi Alan,

I wasn't aware of that.  Thanks for the explanation.  I suppose that if the manufacturer's site offers no discount then there is an incentive to buy from the dealer.
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Alain Briot
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« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2011, 12:33:59 PM »
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Hasselblad's marketing is questionable in my opinion.  The recent (Feb 4th, 2011) introduction of the Hasselblad online store is another interesting development.  It basically offers an opportunity to bypass ordering from a hasselblad dealer and instead provides customers with the option of ordering directly from Hasselblad, without any commission going to a dealer and 100% of the price going to Hasselblad. This is a complete departure from how cameras are sold.

While you can indicate on the order form which dealer you work with, this is an option and not a requirement.  You can simply say you do not have a dealer.  This basially means that Hasselblad dealers are going to lose sales. How much remains to be seen.  I don't see how this can help the relationship between Hasselblad and their dealers either.

Hi Alain

Hasselblad have been selling direct in Europe for some time through their wholly owned subsidiary in London.  Furthermore having dealt with a number of their dealers, many of whom have been dealers for many years, it is questionable in my view if they add any value.  I suspect that this announcement is a precursor to a shakeup of their dealer network.

Dealers who genuinely add value by having demo equipment, accept part exchanges and have product knowledge will, I suspect, be supported and those who are simply order takers will not.  Just a guess on my part but I think this is part of the ongoing evolution of MF camera systems as integrated solutions (camera/back/software) and the associated increase in cost and complexity.

BTW I am a huge admirer and have bought a number of your books and DVD's - keep up your very good work.
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« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2011, 12:45:06 PM »
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Hi David,

I agree that unless dealers offer more than just gear (for example real-life demos, teaching opportunities and the like) then it doesn't matter where you buy the equipment.  It comes down to making a decision on the basis of price, and in that case whoever offers the lowest price wins.

What we are seeing with digital medium format marketing is a shift to selling on the basis of service instead of price alone.  However, I don't see where Hasselblad is offering added service through their online store besides maybe getting hard to find gear quickly?

Thank you for your compliments on my work. I appreciate it.

Alain
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« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2011, 01:26:39 PM »
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Well we are drifting off topic here...

The new web store has been built in conjunction with the dealers and they will get compensated for sales going through the store. It also means that people without a local dealer can get direct support from hasselblad.
Nick-T
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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2011, 05:17:13 PM »
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Best ad that I've seen so far is the one for "Casa Lula."  Mi casa es su casa!!  Well done, but I wonder how much the owner paid to run this.
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« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2011, 03:04:27 AM »
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Quote David Watson

One can argue this point but once LuLa starts accepting advertising then we are in a different ball game and, again IMO, the site does not just need to be impartial it needs to proactively demonstrate impartiality.

Unquote

Two points.

First, why does he NEED to be impartial? It is a very difficult, if not impossible, thing to do. Anyone one who uses a camera system becomes consciously or unconsciously biased towards it. If someone shows a bias then judge for yourself the merits of what is said.
Secondly if there wasn't any advertisements would this automatically mean that there isn't any bias in Michael's statements? The site started out as a way for him to make his opinions heard. Can anyone on here state that they are truly unbiased?  Smiley
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