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"A Reviewer's Responsibility" Michael Reichmann reflection on his M8 Review

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Not trying to burn anyone at the stake. Reichmann strikes me a perfectly fine fellow. Runs a good, and free, website, too.

On this one, though, he did a disservice to his readers, watching out a bit too much for Leica, confusing his roles, feathering his nest, who knows. He should have written what he experienced with the camera. He could have done so gently and smartly.

Not having done so, after consulting with Leica, was a big mistake and as loathe as he is to show any self-reflection on this matter, he's invited us all to weigh in.

On the matter of how big a deal the IR problem and use of filters is, it was a big enough deal that Leica didn't want it mentioned early. It's of course for each user or potential buyer to decide how big a deal it is, which is why honest and impartial reviews are so precious.

Actually, Howard, I think that it was a miscommunication between the developing department and the marketing boys. Stupid rather than conspiring. I fear the truth may never be known. As such I don't include reviewers in any conspiracy theory either. But it certainly could have been done far more elegantly.....

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I've been watching this thread and thinking about MR's review and breast beating.

 

I think it had everything to do with it being a 'Leica.' Had it been a Canon, I somehow think we would have see at least an reference to a problem which they were looking at. But he was blinded by the Marque. I know for years I told people my 1959 Austin-Healy 3000 was one of the worlds ten best cars even when it wouldn't start in a heavy dew.

 

John, with respect, there were plenty of people who reviewed the 1ds2 and said how great it was--none of them mentioned that it would eat your files right out of the box

 

And if they had encountered it, they would have marked it up to using a pre-production camera, is all.

 

To me, this has everything to do with the tremendous complexity of digital cameras, and less to do with Leica.

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i think the main question is not michael richman (i dont even want to use short - it is reserved to HCB)..

his probelems as reviewr are evidnet. i saw very problematic things not only in this review. his reviews about hasselblad are probelmatic, his reviews about linhof and digital platform are problematic.

read carefully, your will see. for what he wanted.. there are other cameras he should have concidered (like ALPA). not my busness to choose cameras for him, but the 697linhof is not exactly non-stdio platform. also, he justifies linhof m69c as a digital platform, because the L shaped cameras (like technikardan69) are not perfectly stable enough. they are not stable enough for digital scan backs like anagram and others, and for multishop digital backs.. they are enough for one shopt backs. again, problems in arguments. also, he suggests to open the lenses and change shutters to save place and weight... oh dear, who opens a top quality digital lenses (and modern analogs too)? one pays extra $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for quality insurance which includes mechanical calibration and mounting, and then u open it????????????

etc etc ...

 

anyway, it is about people who read those reviews and like masses of sheeps - listen to it. now people say that they dont belive maybe, but what was then, when it was out and people used his reviews as bible for argumentations and justifications to buy it ????

again, it is about people who read, and are less selective when they really have to be.

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John, with respect, there were plenty of people who reviewed the 1ds2 and said how great it was--none of them mentioned that it would eat your files right out of the box

 

With all fairness to Canon, the problem was actually due to "incompatible CF cards" being used by the time the Lexar's controller bus wasn't fully supported. Great chance was all reviewers by that time used SanDisk. LOL

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To me, this has everything to do with the tremendous complexity of digital cameras, and less to do with Leica.

 

I agree. The lesson here is that unless I absolutely need the item right away, it isn't worth it for me to be an early adopter.

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It is pretty easy to twist the definition of "absolutely need" when you are in lust

Look at how many people here bought an M8 before Christmas. How many of us "absolutely needed" it? I didn't, but I wanted it very badly. I don't regret, but it did cause frustration.

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Actually, Howard, I think that it was a miscommunication between the developing department and the marketing boys. Stupid rather than conspiring. I fear the truth may never be known. As such I don't include reviewers in any conspiracy theory either. But it certainly could have been done far more elegantly.....

 

No conspiracy and no mix up between the developing and marketing boys. MR simply decided not to mention the flaws he saw after talking to Leica. That was his mistake and only his mistake. It had nothing to do with any department in Leica. To my knowledge Leica did not write the MR review. MR wrote it and left out what some might call the most pertinent facts. Also it had very little to do with the magenta issue. It was the green blobs and stripes. The magenta issue is clearly from the lack of a strong IR filter. Leica surely knew about it and chose not to do anything about it. I think if the blob and stripe issue had not come up then there response to the IR issue would of been to tell users that THEY, the users, needed to BUY IR cut filters if it bothered them.

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I think the fundamental problem is that reviewers and web-savants (like MR, MCJ and SR, to take three close examples)

 

a) listen to themselves talking all the time, and can get a little tone-deaf as their own words sound increasingly pleasing.

 

unless they work very hard developing sources in a variety of communities, they get their most voluminous input from marketing folks. These are not technical people, but people who assess every piece of information in terms of whether it will make more money for their company or perhaps endanger the making of money by their company. And they (the marketeers) are usually good at what they do, so their instinctive reactions are pleasantly expressed, and swift to cover their parents' butts. The reviewers are clear about saying that they aren't very technical folks either, just trying to be careful to only tell us what they really see or know.

 

So it's up to them to tell us as much as they realize is relevant, and up to us to do the sniff-testing. So my view -- it's a world of reasonable people, each trying to do their job, nothing to get angry about. But caveat emptor. And you must get to know each one for a while before deciding which opinions deserve the greatest weight.

 

scott

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With all fairness to Canon, the problem was actually due to "incompatible CF cards" being used by the time the Lexar's controller bus wasn't fully supported. Great chance was all reviewers by that time used SanDisk. LOL

 

Simon--no, the Lexar issue with the 1ds2 was a separate, but different, issue.

 

The camera had been reviewed and was out for months, but the write problem was not CF brand related and happened with SanDisk cards as well. Until Canon released a firmware fix, they were all as faulty as can be under certain shooting circumstances.

 

Personally, magenta black was a lot easier on my sleep

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Simon--no, the Lexar issue with the 1ds2 was a separate, but different, issue.

 

The camera had been reviewed and was out for months, but the write problem was not CF brand related and happened with SanDisk cards as well. Until Canon released a firmware fix, they were all as faulty as can be under certain shooting circumstances.

 

Now I remembered what you were talking about, Jamie ... it was the chimp button with RAW+JPEG parallel writing locking up the camera one, right? LOL Had to run two consecutive firmware uploads to fix ... eventually, they've figured it out!

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I think the fundamental problem is that reviewers and web-savants (like MR, MCJ and SR, to take three close examples)

 

a) listen to themselves talking all the time, and can get a little tone-deaf as their own words sound increasingly pleasing.

 

unless they work very hard developing sources in a variety of communities, they get their most voluminous input from marketing folks. These are not technical people, but people who assess every piece of information in terms of whether it will make more money for their company or perhaps endanger the making of money by their company. And they (the marketeers) are usually good at what they do, so their instinctive reactions are pleasantly expressed, and swift to cover their parents' butts. The reviewers are clear about saying that they aren't very technical folks either, just trying to be careful to only tell us what they really see or know.

 

scott

 

I was surprised to read these comments, Scott, especially from you. I think your general attribution: "...listen to themselves talking all the time, and can get a little tone-deaf as their own words sound increasingly pleasing..." is pretty sweeping and patronizing.

 

As for whom reviewers are able to contact for input - I don't believe you're actually privy to that information and your guesses aren't entirely accurate. Moreover, some of us rely primarily on the things themselves (the cameras, lenses, etc.) as resources. One might also expect that any reviewer who is mentally awake is well aware of the dynamics of corporations, of marketing people, etc.

 

As I told you by PM, that was a strange post and is based more on conjecture and attribution than on direct information, experience, etc. I had to check three times to be sure that this was really a post by you.

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Emotions seem to run high on this issue, Sean and I feel that reviewers in general and Michael in particular are being castigated far too much over this issue. Maybe we should all take a step back and see Michaels explanation for what it is - an explanation. I don't doubt that most of the anger directed at the messengers is really meant for the original source of the problem. It speaks for Leica and its reviewers that it is such an isue. To obtain clay feet one must attain the status of idol first....

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I think the fundamental problem is that reviewers and web-savants (like MR, MCJ and SR, to take three close examples)

 

a) listen to themselves talking all the time, and can get a little tone-deaf as their own words sound increasingly pleasing.

 

unless they work very hard developing sources in a variety of communities, they get their most voluminous input from marketing folks. These are not technical people, but people who assess every piece of information in terms of whether it will make more money for their company or perhaps endanger the making of money by their company. And they (the marketeers) are usually good at what they do, so their instinctive reactions are pleasantly expressed, and swift to cover their parents' butts. The reviewers are clear about saying that they aren't very technical folks either, just trying to be careful to only tell us what they really see or know.

 

So it's up to them to tell us as much as they realize is relevant, and up to us to do the sniff-testing. So my view -- it's a world of reasonable people, each trying to do their job, nothing to get angry about. But caveat emptor. And you must get to know each one for a while before deciding which opinions deserve the greatest weight.

 

 

 

scott

 

 

 

The problem with Reichmann's review of the M8 wasn't that he lacks technical knowledge. That may or may not be the case, but is irrelevant here.

 

The first problem was a failure to report faithfully based on one's experience, in this case, of serious IR issues. This was compounded greatly by the fact that Michael actually went to Leica and sought out their advice on how to handle this issue. "Please don't mention it for now," or something to that effect, is the answer he got, and Michael complied.

 

Sure we should all take what we read with a grain of salt. Sure we should do our own sniff testing, and on and on.

 

Reichmann has himself invited people to reflect on his review, and has pretty much absolved himself of any serious error. He likened the process of camera reviews to movie reviews, and said it's just a matter of taste, and of "bias," which he'd have us believe is perfectly normal.

 

No one begrudges MR his love of Leica. I love Leica myself. The issue is whether a reviewer should faithfully report his findings, however delicately couched, or whether he should take direction from the manufacturer? Even a reviewer for a free community newspaper, a handout, would be fired if it was learned that he had called the studio to ask them how to deal with serious plot issues.

 

Nobody can fire Michael. He runs his own site, obviously. I wouldn't want Michael to be fired even if such a thing were possible. What I would hope for is a consensus about what it means to review a product honestly, and whether there is any room for this sort of practice?

 

With his self-exculpatory essay, Michael himself invites us all to weigh in.

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It has been said a million times already, but it needs to be said again. It is proper to leave out all image quality comments on pre-production equipment. The problem was not with Michael Reichmann, Sean Reid, or anyone else who reviewed a pre-production camera. Those comments have no place in an article since the firmware is not finished.

 

The problem was with Leica, who heard the comments, and dismissed them rather than look closer.

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(1) I don't think anyone was hurt by Reichmann. By the time I read his review, I'd been on the wait list (with $1,000 down at Popflash) for six months. As far as I know, nobody who might have made a purchase decision based on Reichmann's review could have taken delivery of a camera before about February. By that time, all the problems had been public for three months. Quite a number of people on the rangefinder forum had announced that they'd cancelled their orders pending fixes. So Reichmann is guilty of a theoretical crime that didn't have any actual victims.

 

(2) As he has explained in a number of different ways, on different issues -- not just this one -- he's not primarily a reviewer, as Sean Reid is. Reichmann seeks out cameras that he thinks he might use, and then reports on them in a limited way -- for example, a lot of the cameras he works with are mostly used by professionals in studios, but Reichmann doesn't talk about studios because he's a landscape guy. Nor does he seek out every camera in a category. He reports on what he uses, and since he's an expert user, I personally find his reports useful.

 

(3) He was dealing with a weak, hurting camera company. When he discovered the issues, he went back to ask them about them. Their reply left the impression that the problems might be sample problems, as happen with all new digital cameras. So, uncertain, he didn't report them -- but as soon as the major issues came out, he reported what he'd seen, and also reported that he hadn't written about them, and why. Can't really expect much more than that in terms of honesty -- the New York Times still has written an equivalent admission in their coverage of the Duke rape case, in which they made far more and far graver errors.

 

4. I think people who have perpetuated these complaints about Reichmann are simply [searching for the right word that won't hurt too many feelings] naive. They want perfection? Are they perfect? Do they know anybody who is? If they are truly all that disappointed by the Luminous Landscape review of the M8, I'd say their lives are a little limited. This is like brooding over a punctuation error in the newspaper..

 

JC

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whats that sean??? different opinions are not allowed.

what is it? a little discomfort when some body ineropts that monotonus talks about the best camera in the world that can outperform the medium format??????

 

it sounds to me: scot, i didnt expected that from you... how you dare to talk like that....

)

 

imagine the scene:

 

masses of people stand with open mouths ready that "reputable reviewrs" will feed them with the "best" "best" "best" camera review. the masses pray to hear it, and the reputable reviewrs give it. they give it with style: with poetic metaphors: best camera in the world. outperforms medium format and even big format slides. ya sure.. of course it outperforms... blessed are the believers

)

 

a little interaption in the forum... oooooooops...... but:

how many leis can be found underneath the quite monotonic m8 talks?

m8 photographers... the new movement in photography... profile profile icc, resolution resolution, lens recording ability lens lens lens...

 

and leica people... do your hear it... is this "leica photography"... resolution resolution talks?

how many years you can keep on holding the decade herritage without feeding it with something real ?? something real ... really best cameras, and mainly photographic education (regardless of leica cameras). that will maintain the heritage - the name, the image, the lebel....

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Some clarifications:

 

1. My second M8 review and Michael's first were based on early production cameras. My first review (which did not discuss IQ) was based on a preproduction camera.

 

2. What Michael reported to Leica initially had to do with the horizontal streak (since fixed), not the IR sensitivity. He didn't notice the IR color casts at first, nor did I, nor did Tom Abrahamson, nor did Ed Schwartzreich, nor did (etc. and its a long list of photographers, reviewers, makers of Leica accessories, members of Magnum, etc).

 

My own discussion of my M8 reviews can be found here (as I posted above):

 

Sean Reid - the interview extended | photostream

 

It is a continuation of: Interview with Sean Reid (Reid Reviews) | photostream

 

Sean

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Am I really forgetting so many details? Did Leica not tell you the firmware was not final?

 

Hi Carsten,

 

The firmware was not final in the camera used for my first review (as you correctly remembered). My second M8 review was based on an early production camera with shipping-level firmware. This is discussed in each review but who can remember all of that stuff months later.

 

Best,

 

Sean

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whats that sean??? different opinions are not allowed.

what is it? a little discomfort when some body ineropts that monotonus talks about the best camera in the world that can outperform the medium format??????

 

it sounds to me: scot, i didnt expected that from you... how you dare to talk like that....

)

 

imagine the scene:

 

masses of people stand with open mouths ready that "reputable reviewrs" will feed them with the "best" "best" "best" camera review. the masses pray to hear it, and the reputable reviewrs give it. they give it with style: with poetic metaphors: best camera in the world. outperforms medium format and even big format slides. ya sure.. of course it outperforms... blessed are the believers

)

 

a little interaption in the forum... oooooooops...... but:

how many leis can be found underneath the quite monotonic m8 talks?

m8 photographers... the new movement in photography... profile profile icc, resolution resolution, lens recording ability lens lens lens...

 

and leica people... do your hear it... is this "leica photography"... resolution resolution talks?

how many years you can keep on holding the decade herritage without feeding it with something real ?? something real ... really best cameras, and mainly photographic education (regardless of leica cameras). that will maintain the heritage - the name, the image, the lebel....

I think you have not got the "feel" of the way we conduct ourselves on this forum. Read and learn....

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