I know that nothing helps more when buying a lens to actually test it out yourself, but in my case anyway I feel it's good to know many people's experiences. Kenrockwell is a website that I run into a lot when trying to get info on a lens. When I google a model it's usually one of the first results. The problem is, any time I or anyone else brings up KenRockwell at freenode's
#photogeeks (among other places) they lambast it simply because it is from KenRockwell.
In other news, I'm thinking of getting a cheap mild telephoto prime (outside of my zoom lens budget
(c;) so I've been researching the
Nikkor 85mm 1.8 D fairly extensively. After having handled it myself, I am fairly certain it's the one I'm going to buy. Let's see what Ken Rockwell says about it:
He gives some remarks on OOF elements in the performance section. (I won't paste it here as I think he says he doesn't want his stuff copied anywhere)
Given, bokeh is not as good in the 85mm 1.8 as it is in the 1.4 but from what little I've used the lens (and seen from photos taken with it on like flickr and stuff), I wouldn't call it 'fairly poor'. He gives a pretty specific criticism on halos for not having used the lens much, but I think that is kind of a nitpick on my part.
One of the big things
#photogeeks complains about is the little blurb in the About section that says that he adds satire and fiction to the site.
I notice many websites of this sort (Kenrockwell, ByThom [although Mr. Hogan doesn't review lenses that he doesn't claim to have used]) don't have too many sample pictures and the ones they do have are usually heavily scaled. Kenrockwell's gallery's pictures aren't even 640x480.
Are there good reasons to trust massive single-user for-profit photography websites like KenRockwell.com?
If you have not noticed yet, this rant is pretty biased. I apologize. This is what the people at
#photogeeks have shown me. I'm more than open for someone to show me otherwise.
Edit: Perhaps I should not have dragged Mr. Hogan into this question as his writings do indicate that he has much more experience with the equipment than Mr. Rockwell. I am no photography expert but his reviews on the lenses I own fit the bill exactly. As many of you have mentioned, (and as is evident in reading their sites) Mr. Rockwell and Mr. Hogan have totally different review methods.
The reason I thought to include Mr. Hogan is because both he and Mr. Rockwell are big photography reviewers who make a lot of money from their websites. That doesn't make them bad reviewers. I just feel that even on something as petty as product reviews you can fall into a trap of getting biased towards a particular reviewer's opinions. I know it happened to me when I was first looking to buy. I though Mr. Rockwell was the bomb dot com because of the heaps of praise he threw on the really cheap lenses within my budget while I looked with disdain at more analytic reviewers' opinions (read: ByThom) on the same lenses. I guess that is because the more real reviews revealed the lens's real shortcomings. People will see what they want to see.
It is evident to me now that Mr. Hogans reviews carry more weight in the real world but I can see how bias can go both ways. I guess there really is nothing better than trying the lens out for yourself. As I have mentioned I have done above, just never with big $1000+ investment lenses.
That brings me back to my question: On an absolute scale how much can you trust these review sites?
P.S. Thank you for reading my rant! If you have gotten this far you are the winner