Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beware of the video gurus.

When it comes to gear, it can be difficult to determine which tools are best for one's use especially when considering a purchase with limited funds. Some could have a certain amount to spend on a piece of gear and then would have to live with that purchase for many years, so the impetus in cases like that are always on - what's the best choice when there are multiple valid choices?

Using online forums like DVXuser can be invaluable in gleaning actual user feedback of a chosen piece of gear. I've learned a great deal about certain pieces of gear and technique from such online forums and try to share what I know and have learned on my own in the process.

In fact, I've always sought out actual user feedback as opposed to "reviews" created by supposed "experts" who more often than not are being paid to write or appear in online videos reviewing video equipment. Without naming names, I'm sure anyone who has spent some time online researching on forums and blogs has come across posts and blogs attributed to these tech gurus.

These tech gurus generally run online forums (or are moderators) where most of their "helpful" replies to posts have to do with buying something or have to do with one particular manufacturers products. Some run blogs that not only feature ads for certain manufacturers but they also tend to push said manufacturer's gear heavily.

I'm not about to begrudge anyone trying to make a living, but you have to be able to discriminate when considering the validity of suggestions regarding gear made by XYZ, Co. and the value of opinions about that gear voiced by someone being paid by XYZ, Co.

Consider the following passages taken from an almost 7,000 word "review" posted online for the Panasonic AF100, dated October 20, 2010:

"I've decided that the Panasonic AG-AF101 film-like HD camcorder is absolutely, unequivocally the all-new independent low-budget filmmakers weapon of choice"

"it’s the camcorder filmmakers have been waiting on for 20 years."

"In fact it’s the camcorder we’ve ALL been waiting for"

"It would appear that the world jumped on the 5D MK2 for video for one reason and one reason only; shallow depth-of-field; that’s it."

"The AG-AF101 is a serious digital SLR killer."

"the AG-AF101 is quite simply one of the best HD camcorders I’ve seen in many years."

"it is totally revolutionary,"

"this camcorder is totally freaking awesome."

"The AG-AF101 has a beautiful large 4/3rd MOS sensor that is virtually the same size as a 35mm film camera; this should mean the picture quality produced by it should be absolutely breathtaking,"

"the image quality was/is absolutely hideous, full of aliasing, artefacts and other retarded gremlins due to the line-skipping technology (and a bloody crude technology it is too) and lack of optical video low-pass filtering. Did I mention the unusable ‘form factor’ of DSLRs yet?"

"the days of DSLRs are well and truly over"

"The Panasonic AG-AF101 is quite simply revolutionary."

"the AG-AF101 now gives us that last missing piece of the jigsaw; total depth-of-field control combined with interchangeable lenses, with that cinematic look that we have all been waiting for."

"With the price in mind I simply have to give the AG-AF101 a massive recommendation with 5 out of 5 stars."


Now... those of us with a functioning BS detector, will see this "review" for what it is - an advertisement. Rife with hyperbole, it's an obvious propaganda piece deliberately aimed at the DSLR user market. It's debatable whether or not the writer of this piece is any kind of expert as there seems to be no substantial industry credits available online or substantial examples of work available online.

In the case of unreleased equipment, it's impossible to really make a determination as to the quality or suitability of a piece of gear. In those cases, many people wait to see what the eventual user feedback is before making a decision to purchase, well enough AFTER an item is available to purchase. Certainly hype can be built up in support of a soon to be released piece of gear and the more naive of us might buy into it and put down a deposit or pre-order something essentially sight unseen.

I'd suggest being smart and efficient and using gear that other people are using with success. It's far less a gamble to use what's being used than it is to take chances that something nobody else has yet will work for you. Seek out the word on the street when it comes to gear when you're considering purchases and take "reviews" written by the gurus with a grain of salt.

These are my favorite sources of consumer/user feedback on gear:

©2010 Chris Santucci

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