I will be quite honest with you, I am feeling a bit melancholy. Many of you may have heard that one of the biggest photography sites on the planet, DPReview, is closing.
Sadly, this massive photographic resource and community are deemed not to make enough money for Jeff Bezos and his Amazon behemoth. Rather than stop producing content and simply paying for the site to continue providing valuable information, Amazon’s bean counters have decided to close it down completely after a while. In my mind, that is an incredibly short-sighted attitude, and as well as making me sad, it makes me angry. Today, with your permission and understanding, I would like to reminisce a little about DPReview.
Where It All Started
If DPReview is part of your photographic consciousness, it’s for a good reason. The site has been around for nearly as long as digital photography. It was created in 1998 by Phil Askey and his wife, Joanna.
As its full name suggests, Digital Photography Review concentrated on reviewing digital photographic equipment, in particular cameras.
Its success came from how comprehensive these tests were, partly due to an unusual rating system. Rather than rate cameras numerically until 2010, DPReview gave a six-point worded rating from highly recommended to poor. These were to change eventually to a percentage score and a gold and silver additional award.
The site grew rapidly and became known as the go-to place for researching new photographic purchases. In 2007 the site was bought by Amazon, and the reviews began to link to the purchase options on the Amazon site. Phil Askey was replaced as general manager in 2010 by Simon Joinson.
On the 21st of March, 2023, DPReview published a news article saying that they were to be closed down completely on April 10th, 2023. So what will I miss about this site?
Reviews – The Backbone Of DPReview
I am sure that, like me, many of you will have DPReview bookmarked as a first stop when researching new equipment purchases. Not only is their database of cameras vast, but their reviews are quite possibly the most comprehensive on the Internet. Perhaps even more importantly than that, the image and video tests are all done under virtually identical conditions, giving readers a sound basis for comparison.
There are excellent studio photos of each camera from every angle, enabling you to see exactly how it looks. There is a long list of specs, including all the formats, file types, and resolutions. This is especially useful when comparing video capabilities.
Mixed in with the technical analysis of the camera, there are some personal thoughts of the reviewer, giving a more subjective opinion.
Beyond DPReview's massive camera database, there is an impressive collection of lens, printer, and phone reviews. The overall review section is such a vast mine and archive of the past 25 years of digital photography that it seems bizarre that it will just be tossed away.
DPReview YouTube Channel
If the equipment reviews are the serious business side of DPReview, the Youtube channel is the light-hearted and fun side. Hosted by Chris Nichols and Jordan Drake, the channel looks at photographic equipment in practical use and camera shoot-offs and side projects, putting some fun into photography.
Chris is the go-to guy for cameras and lenses, whilst Jordan concentrates on the video side. Both are affable personalities who really draw you into their videos with their obvious chemistry. The YouTube channel has 411k subscribers and presumably must be making money.
Fortunately, all is not lost, as PetaPixel has snapped up Chris and Jordan, so their excellent videos will continue. No word as of the time of writing on what will happen to the hundreds of videos they have already created but at least some of the DNA of DPReview will live on.
The DPReview Forums
Ah, the DPReview forums, love them or hate them, are a massive resource of useful photographic advice and opinion. Yes, they are inhabited by keyboard warriors, fanbois, armchair experts, and pixel peepers but get beyond them to the 95% of genuine photographers. They are a fantastic resource.
Can’t you work out how to change a setting deep within a camera’s menu? A quick post on DPReview, and you will have an answer very quickly. Want to know someone’s opinion on a potential purchase, you will get an avalanche of advice.
The DPReview forums and, without a doubt, the most comprehensive photographic forums online, with the largest membership and the widest section of sub-forums. Virtually every brand has at least one subforum; there are forums from specific genres, such as travel and for, printers, and smartphone photography. It is a genuine community there, although some of the minority, and losing it will be a major blow to the photographic world.
Perhaps one of the unique parts of the DPReview site is the Challenges section. Each challenge is posted by a member, open to a specific number of submissions, and for a specific time. The DPReview membership simply likes the pictures they see in the challenges, and when the challenge expires, the winner is the one with the most upvotes.
The beauty was that there were no prizes and hence no cutthroat competition. Each challenge would have a very specific theme, some would require you to go out and shoot specifically, and others would allow you to submit from your back catalog. It was simply a pleasant way to get some appreciation from your fellow photographers.
The closing down of DPReview all seems a little surreal and very short-sighted to me. Whilst I fully understand that a site of such magnitude will not have insignificant running costs, it seems churlish to close down such a vast resource of photographic data completely. Amazon, by its very nature, is a vast online empire with infinite amounts of server space. It seems daft that they could not corner off a tiny section to archive DPReview and allow future generations of photographers to access it.
Sadly, at the time of writing, the bean counters do not see the value in such a vast archive of information and will become read-only on April 10th, 2023, and fully close sometime after. That will be a very sad day for photography.