The Online Photographer

Check out our new site at!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pretend You're My Editor...

...What would you assign me to review?


Featured Comment by Michael Seltzer: How about the Pentax Digital 645?

Oh, that's right...there is no Pentax 645D!

I'm thinking of starting a new magazine called The Vaporware Review. It would include product announcements, interviews with designers and manufacturers, and in-depth product reviews. I imagine this would well serve the photographic trade (maybe the entire technology industry).

As a first go, I'd like to see if I could get my hands on the obviously mal-formed under-glass model of the 645D. If I can’t, I can always build one. Doesn’t look like it would be too difficult. Maybe out of cardboard, or a lump of clay I pushed on here or there and painted black. Or better yet, Bakelite. Wonderful stuff, Bakelite, especially in that 1950’s yellow—a color not seen in nature and, like the secret pigments of some of the (long dead) great artists, one no one has been able to correctly reproduce since. Anyway, once I get a mock-up, I’d take it out for a field test, see what it can do. I’d try to cram a CF card into it, press down on the fake shutter release until something goes click, then write up the results (“On the plus side, this baby’s practically noise-free, unless you drop it. Trip the shutter and there’s no mirror noise, no vibration, no mirror slap at all, because there’s no mirror, no shutter to trip, and even if there were, there’s no way to trip it! And you can set this beauty up on a tripod, press as hard as you want on the shutter release and leave it for hours, and there will be no luminance or chroma noise—absolutely none! On the other hand, the resolution’s not so good”).

I mean, why wait for product to do a review? Why wait for data? In a world with such announcements, where people become celebrities not because of anything they’ve said or can do, but simply because…well, God knows; where even the government doesn’t allow pesky little things like data, information, or understanding, and certainly not the cries of the well-informed, to stop them from doing what they “know” to be right, why wait at all? Let’s go marching boldly forward, advancing the tide of ignorance (and trying to make a buck in the process). Hey, that could be the magazine’s tag line. What do you think?

Uhh—that you're having a bad day at the office? —MJ


Blogger Alex said...

The Pentax K10D and the Pentax DA Limiteds. Perhaps a comparison with the Nikon D80.


7:17 AM  
Blogger Adam McAnaney said...

A few suggestions:

- Sub-$500 dedicated film scanners. Not flatbeds, as Vincent Oliver has that pretty well covered.

- Internationally available photography magazines. I looked longingly at your post regarding your review of the B9180 in Black & White Photography, which I will likely never be able to read. (Sniff.)

- Your favorite films. Yes, I know there are reviews on the web by other people. I want to know your personal opinion.

- Picture frames. I'm serious. It is tough to find a source for good-looking, stable, reasonably inexpensive frames for prints sized A4 and up.


7:34 AM  
Blogger Dan Dill said...

Are there books or video tutorials that go beyond basic printing to address making really fine prints? Fine Art Printing for Photographers: Exhibition Quality Prints with Inkjet Printers,, by Uwe Steinmuller and Juergen Gulbins, is the best I have seen so far, but I wish the core material on optimizing the print were even more detailed.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Leica lenses on the M8.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Mike,

I have one suggestion. What is the state of the art in extremely portable (e.g. drop it in my shirt pocket) cameras? Let's assume I don't always want to drag along my camera bag when I go on a quick trip. Is there a portable camera out there that will still produce adequate quality in case a moose with a full rack suddenly appears in front of my car?

7:51 AM  
Blogger Robert Roaldi said...

"Prosumer" alternatives to Photoshop like Lightzone or Picture Windows Pro (Windows only). There are several "amateur" level programs (e.g., Elements) that don't do serious photo-editing (colour management, masking, perspective control, etc.) that photographers want to do. But "advanced" amateurs don't need the $1000 (Cdn) graphics and pre-press features of Photoshop.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Don Parsons said...

Fast portrait lenses; i.e. nikkor 85 1.4, zeiss or contax 85 1.4, canon 85 1.8 (to keep it affordable!) leica 75 1.4 or 90 2.0.

The right tool for the job...
you don't use a Leica to shoot a Pro Football game and you don't use a multi-frame slr to shoot quietly in a cafe.

Why don't P&S (either film or digital) have wide-angle (24mm or less) lenses?

On the road i.e. portable storage when you don't have a laptop.


8:14 AM  
Blogger john said...

Easy, a full frame Nikon DSLR - but you'd have to give it me back afterwards.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Benzo Harris said...

Slow news day, eh?

8:19 AM  
Blogger Dave Jenkins said...

Mike, I’m looking forward to reading your promised “user impressions” of the Leica M8. Also, although it’s no longer new news, if you can get your hands on one I would be interested in a review of the Epson RD-1, since I hope someday to own a digital RF and the Leica is only a distant dream.

It’s funny, I guess, but you style yourself a socialist-liberal, and I am definitely a conservative-libertarian. We probably wouldn’t agree on much except photography, but I find myself in agreement with you on most matters photographic and have since you first came to my notice in your “Camera & Darkroom” days. (I even sided with you in your little disagreement with HRH The Putz!)

Dave Jenkins

8:33 AM  
Blogger Robert Meier said...

The ZF 35/2.0

8:34 AM  
Blogger Chris Hensel said...

The Fuji S5

Or you could comment on the explosion of wedding photographers, and the attendant coverage of this heretofore
denigrated specialty by PDN and American Photo.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Jan Moren said...

What Alex said, pretty much. The K10D and a selection of current primes (perhaps the pancakes just because they're somewhat unique as a lens lineup).

8:39 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"Slow news day, eh?"

No, I need to give my editor some ideas for possible future review topics.


8:41 AM  
Blogger winkalman said...

I second Alex's vote, but with the addition of the new DA* lenses due out next month.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

To all those who've mentioned the Pentax K10D....

Haven't Carl's articles on this been enough? I figured that's the last camera I should review, because Carl has covered it in such depth. We've probably done more coverage of the K10D than any other camera in the 17-month history of T.O.P...

So how come I should review that???


8:47 AM  
Blogger Terence Hogben said...

Mike i would like to see an on going series of reviews comparing 24in printers for "Fine Art Printing"

Moving away from equipment i would like you to review the state of professional photography today, pulling no punches,of course!


8:52 AM  
Blogger winkalman said...

RE: K10D Review Requests

I'm already sold on the camera body. I'm really more interested in the new Pentax DA limiteds and DA* lenses; the K10D just seemed like the most logical thing to put them on.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Mark Bridgers said...

The Ricoh Gx-100 with viewfinder. Is this the DMD? Or even close?

8:57 AM  
Blogger Bob Burnett said...

How about more Giant Sand, some Rudy Van Gelder-produced RVG series stuff, a Duke Ellington overview?

9:03 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

what about the best flower camera and lens combination .....


joking, i've just read a piece in the sunday photographer archive .....


9:09 AM  
Blogger David said...

A real-world test of image quality for a slew of pocketable compacts, including those with image stablization COMPARED to tiny DSLRs such as the D40 and the 350D/XT/XTi at high ISO.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nothing expensive. That Galbraith article cost your readership millions.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is kinda scut work, but maybe you could bring your other online essays (or all that you own, or that you consider relevant) over here to TOP, so they could be read (and commented upon!) in one location.

Also, I'd suggest that any eqpt (h'ware or s'ware) reviews be limited to "user impressions," leaving the "testing" to others (although you should feel invited to link to those detailed analyses).

9:35 AM  
Blogger dasmb said...

I'd like to see an overview of the lenses philosophies of DSLR systems. That's such a more important factor when choosing a DSLR system than the cameras themselves, and yet it's rarely ever broached.

For example, if you only ever want to buy one lens, ever, you might want a Nikon. That 18-200 VR is unbeatable for flexibility.

9:48 AM  
Blogger dasmb said...

Oh -- an article on how to get your work exhibited, and what to do once it's up, would be pretty cool too.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Brambor said...

I enjoyed your opinion on exhibiting in cafe's as opposed to galleries.

I would like to see a thoughtful article (including comments from your varied audience) on current trends for hanging, exhibiting and purchasing art (purchasing habits by mortals too ;-) )

I see lots of folks loving art but unable or unwilling to spend more than $100 for it.

Conversely I see a lot of great photographers who could have a great exhibition of cool prints that would not sell yet they can't spring the expense of framing the prints.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Christoph Hammann said...

The Zeiss ZF lenses, current choices in large format cameras, the state of silver halide black&white materials.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Objective said...

- Visitting Paul Caponigro, THE Master in the darkroom and somewhone who will never touch something digital. Scan one of his negatives, proces it in PS and print it on a Epson 3800. And then a discussion on the difference of the digital output and his own print.
And making it even more interseting: invite his son.

-The crazy and wonderfull Seitz 6x17 Digital

-The varnish and papers from

10:39 AM  
Blogger Son of Food said...

How about a roundup of interesting self-published photo books from services like Lulu? I quite like Sam Portera's book of New Orleans photos, _After the Water_.--

I'm sure there must be some other gems in there.

--David A. Goldfarb

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question you (or your editor) need to ask is "What am I well qualified to review?" or "What insights can I offer that others might not?" After all, what's the point of us asking you to review products or topics in which you have no interest, no experience, or no expertise?

If this isn't helpful, then based on what you've written well about in the past, I'd suggest reviewing photography books, gallery shows, esoterica (best enlarging lenses ever made, best used lens bargains, etc.) and darkroom techniques. The last one might seem odd, but lots of photography students still use film cameras. The occasional review of classic films, developers and papers (that is, the few that are left) can be illuminating without making you appear too nostalgic.

What I would NOT suggest you review are: tripods, light meters, Canon equipment, RAW converters, image management applications, film scanners, or restaurants.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Player said...

An article on how to prepare materials, photos and writing, for magazine publication.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Hassleblad H3D-39.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

This is going to sound completely out of left field, but I'm sincere with this idea. I've always gotten a kick out of those ridiculous "Will it blend?' segments on where they grind expensive gadgets to dust. Since I first saw that, I've been pining to see a "Will it lens?" I'm hoping someone with a bit of time and an expensive camera can take random transparent objects, from Coke bottles to sunglasses, and use them as the lens for their DSLR. The best part will be the breakdown, judging contrast, detail, and vignetting and all the other attributes. Plus, I'm sure the pictures will be a real kick, too.

If you want, I'll do this in tandem with you on my blog,, and we'll co-write a few segments and release them as podcasts. I think it could be hilarious... Let me know.

11:50 AM  
Blogger MarkH said...


I still want to see your who make who's lenses.

Like the Tokina/Promaster/Nikon (Oops! did I say that?)12-24 AF.


11:54 AM  
Blogger ostman said...

Film scanner...

12:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kott said...


Regarding your question as to why people would want more information on the Pentax K10D and pancake lenses when you have already provided a lot of coverage through Carl's articles.

I have the sense that people see the K10D and Pentax primes as real photographers' tools. While Nikon churns out multiple consumer zooms, its line up is deficient in small primes. Canon/Nikon do a great job with big cameras and lenses for wildlife/sport/studio shooting. But not so good a job providing small inobtrusive high quality lenses for, as Don said above, shooting quietly in a cafe.

Now for that kind of a kit, we could buy a Leica M8 and lenses, but at what cost.

In past articles, you've said some of the Pentax limited lenses rival Zeiss and Leica. I think people would be interested in knowing how the image quality of the K10D and Pentax primes compares to the much more expensive alternative of the Leica M8 and lenses.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Paul Leidl said...

Hi Mike:

This may not fall under the heading “review” but I would like to read something illuminating on how to make digital black and white look decent.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Michael Seltzer said...

How about the Pentax Digital 645?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I would be thrilled to see either of:

Nikon D80 with the ZF 35/2.0
Dedicated film scanners for less than $1,000

My preference would be the former.


1:41 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I know you finally got a sigma 30mm. Is that about 50mm on your system? How does it compare to the takumars and summicrons?

1:45 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

How bout the Sigma DP1 when that comes out?

Regarding wide-angle P&S, Nikon came out with the 8400 a while back and that was fairly wide.

1:50 PM  
Blogger R.A. Sasayama said...

any large format camera. maybe a showdown between the canham 5x7 traditional and gandolfi variant lv3.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Samm Cooper said...

I'd like to echo huwmorgan's suggestion of a search for ultra-compact cameras from the perspective of a real photographer. There's a real niche for tiny cameras with serious features, for those times when you don't have you dSLR. However both manufacturers and reviewers tend to look at them as entry-level cameras rather than a portable supplement to a larger camera.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Awake said...

a) An AFFORDABLE color management system / workflow that actually works for mere mortals.
b) A current state of the art scanner that handles up to MF and is actually affordable. I need to scan lots of legacy 35mm and 6x7.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Cold Bike said...

I would like to see more of the stuff that everyone else seems to be covering poorly.
I can read specs as easily as anyone, I want to know about real world performance.
Take the Nikon P5000, about 10 sites will publish reviews on it and none of them will mention how it performs in the real world i.e. can I use it to photograph my kid running through my dim house and if so how? Also, none of the other sites seem to want to compare it to a typical professional cameraor the hypothetical DMD.
I would like to see wish lists like the DMD. It could be expounding on features that you would really like to see like (say) bounce flash in P&S bodies or better anti-shake or less pointy looking lenses.

2:58 PM  
Blogger RG said...

The new Bessa R4M or R4A


3:06 PM  
Blogger andrewt said...

M8 and lenses

3:17 PM  
Blogger Tom Gibbons said...

I raise my glass to you sir. And a blog post.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Dr Hiding Pup said...

Olympus E-410. Alongside an OM-4. On the streets of New York in winter. In a duffle coat.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

"I mean, why wait for product to do a review? Why wait for data?"

we already have that, it's called ;-)

5:56 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Sorry it's nothing to do with full frame digital whiz bang gizmos but
I would be very interested in your comments on


1:49 AM  
Blogger nlx said...

we need a test about the Pentax 14mm…

2:32 AM  
Blogger david vatovec said...

Any alternative to photoshop.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Chris_Yeager said...

The "workflow" thing is probably the least usefully discussed topic on the digital photo scene.... I'm a software professional and I still havent figured out what to do with all those files... I use a 5 year old release of ACDsee (I think thats it) because it surfs the thumbnails without bothering me too much. But the topic is not a "product", and it's hard, which is probably the reason for the lack of, well, written insight.

Also, funny how we don't hear that much hoo-ha about film scanners any more...

7:10 AM  
Blogger Andrew Forrester said...

How about some articles on classic 35mm, MF & LF lenses.

A comparison between incamera AS & IS lenses.

An in-depth look at Lightzone & how it compares to PS.

A comparison between the soon to be available Microtec M1 flatbed scanner & a dedicated film scanner.

You could take a look at the B9180's big brother the Z3100.

You could write about blogging & your favourite blogs.


9:46 AM  
Blogger Chris Combs said...

more photographs! More photographers! Gear is good, but only a means to an end. Give us some ends to look at...

1:14 PM  
Blogger Chris Combs said...

And yeah, I understand the "glass houses" tendency to avoid criticism when reviewing photography. Perhaps you could obtain the permission of the reviewed (assuming they're still able to give such)...

1:18 PM  
Blogger Michael Seltzer said...

Ha! Well, maybe... Actually it was my wife who had a bad day at the office; but, you know, community property and all.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Michael S.,
That was a great comment. Did you notice YOU got linked at the CameraArts blog? They weren't linking to the little bit I wrote, but to your contribution.


4:50 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Didn't you have a Nikon fm3a or similar that you were playing with?
I'd like to hear your impressions on that.

Rick B

3:39 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I would really like to read your opinion on the new 50/1.5 sonnar.

11:35 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home