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Peter S
02-06-2008, 13:53
Hello everybody,

I assume I am not the only member here with a subscription to the UK magazine B&W photography. Just wondering whether I am alone in not really liking the new direction the mag seems to be going. Have been reading it for at least a couple of years and always looked forward to next months magazine, but with the recent change of the guard it seems as if the editor is filling up the magazine all by himself with very "interesting" stories about his adventures with a Leica MP etc etc. In the recent magazine he even discusses how to shoot sheep....

Maybe I am one of the few not liking it, but am seriously considering not renewing my subscription, but then wat? As much as the internet gives us meeting places like RFF where we can discuss photography, buy and sell equipment or just talk about fondling cameras I always have liked to also read about photography on paper. Do you have any suggestions for other magazines focussing on B&W photography ? I live in Amsterdam, but do not mind having to subscribe to an overseas mag.

P.

drewbarb
02-06-2008, 14:01
I've read Black and White Photography for a number of years, and while I still enjoy it, it's not nearly as good as it was a few years ago. There is far and away less useful technical information, fewer images, more advertising and more equipment reviews. It seems to be going to way of pretty much every other photography magazine out there.

Schlapp
02-06-2008, 14:04
Agree.
See http://www.apug.org/forums/forum56/42582-months-uk-b-w-mag.html

MickH
02-06-2008, 14:05
If oyu're looking for alternatives, there's a thread somewhere on here to do with photo mags. I've had a quick look but can't find it. I'm sure B&W Photography was mentioned, so that might work as a search key. Have a look around.

MickH
02-06-2008, 14:07
If you're looking for alternatives, there's a thread somewhere on here to do with photo mags. I've had a quick look but can't find it. I'm sure B&W Photography was mentioned, so that might work as a search key. Have a look around.

shadowfox
02-06-2008, 14:09
I'd say write the editor and express your view, and count your blessings :)

Compared to the other "trash" out here at the bookshelf, that magazine is immensely more useful and enjoyable for me.

For example, I can't name another magazine that has an ongoing article that pits two printers to produce vastly different prints from the same negative.

Also, I like off-the-cuff interview with David Bailey recently, in which we can see clearly that the magazine doesn't worship the ground that the sponsors walk on. At least not as bad as others.

MickH
02-06-2008, 14:12
Gorrit:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=53011

myoptic3
02-06-2008, 14:24
Although I haven't read it, Lenswork has been mentioned by others as a good photography mag w/ good paper and prints. I've heard you can find it at Borders and Barnes and Noble.

Roger Hicks
02-06-2008, 14:31
Monochrom (Germany)

Much more colour-oriented: Foam. Published (as far as I recall) in Amsterdam.

Don't knock equipment reviews too much. Where else do you read film-oriented B+W tests? (OK so I'm biased, being married to Frances Schultz).

Cheers

R.

nksyoon
02-06-2008, 14:44
I almost threw a recent issue away when the editor writes about how digital allows you to superimpose a "better" sky on a scene. Seriously considering not renewing.

If you're looking for a magazine which features B&W photography rather than equipment try these:

http://www.privatephotoreview.com/en/index.php
http://www.foto8.com/ei8ht/previews/index.html (colour and B&W)
http://www.foto8.com/cat--Back-Issues--EI8HT_backissues.html

I've subscribed to the first and bought back issues of the second, waiting for them to relaunch it as a semi-annual.

drewbarb
02-06-2008, 15:00
Will- you are right about "the Printers Art" section being one of the more interesting things in the magazine; but in recent issues, even that has often been a piece about digital work, which is far less interesting to me.

And Roger- I understand your position on the reviews. In fact, I will stop and read anything I find written by you or Frances, even your reviews which are generally excellent. But as a general rule, you will have to agree that equipment reviews in photo magazines tend to treat advertisers with kid gloves. Not that you two are guilty of this, but editors have to make the cash cows happy, and this tends not to serve the reader- except in the sense that it allows the magazine to continue to publish.

mr_phillip
02-06-2008, 15:09
I'm afraid this is my fault. I was a casual reader of this mag for a couple of years back when it was really at its peak, but as soon as I actually got around to subscribing, it turns to crap. Damn! Happens to me every time ;)

Roger Hicks
02-07-2008, 01:56
And Roger- I understand your position on the reviews. . . editors have to make the cash cows happy, and this tends not to serve the reader- except in the sense that it allows the magazine to continue to publish.
Dear Drew,

Very true, except that you might well be astonished at how many people REALLY CARE about reviews, and love to read them.

They're also useful for bulking a magazine out: there is a limit to how many genuinely different technique pieces you can find.

As far as possible, Frances and I try to review only kit we think we might like or need, on the grounds that if we want to know what it's like, others probably do too. It's a bit like asking on the forum here, "Anyone got a...?"

Admittedly we do the occasional 'Thought it might be interesting...' piece, and sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. We also have different reactions to different bits of kit. For example, Frances really likes the Zeiss 18/4 and I can't see the point, whereas I really love the 1,5/50 C-Sonnar and she thinks it's quite nice but would prefer the 50/2.5 Summarit.

Negative reviews almost never get published (Amateur Photographer is a noble exception) and they also stop manufacturers sending stuff out for review (no-one can afford to BUY kit for review any more).

There is, therefore, little point in writing negative reviews, but at least when Frances and I review something, we say what we think. If it's really awful, we'll contact the manufacturer and say, "We're not going to review this because..."

You can therefore be confident that if we do review something, and say we like it, we're not just being polite/keeping advertisers happy, whereas if we don't review something it may either be that we don't like it or haven't been able to get hold of it (or haven't found anyone to publish a review, which is increasingly common with film kit).

Cheers,

R.

kully
02-07-2008, 02:17
I havn't picked up this months issue yet, but I agree with the previous points, and I thoroughly enjoyed the David Bailey interview piece last month too.

There does seem to be too much padding in the past few issues, the editors MP article had a number of errors (35/1.2 Summicron &c.) - once the advertising is taken out you see that there isn't a huge amount of editorial, so I'd expect it to be accurate and 'tight'.

Some of the equipment reviews are rather lacking too - the Manfrotto 055Pro one was featured on the front of the magazine but was little more than a paragraph.

Apart from having something to read on the bog, magazines have one thing over on web literature - printed images. I hope they keep up the portfolio section, and perhaps improve the paper quality - I have/had a few copies of a Chinese photography magazine called "Chinese Photography" and although I couldn't understand anything the layout was beautiful - photos presented well with distracting adverts on other pages, lovely paper (thick semi-matte, not the glossier one used in B&W).

You're right, this is the only magazine I now buy, I stopped buying Amatuer Photographer when I realised I only ever read the Ivor Mantle & Roger Hicks pieces...

Schlapp
02-07-2008, 02:49
Yes its a pity. This was a great mag - I even had a snap or two published but there seems to be far too much 'is film or digital better' stuff recycled in every article. Its almost as if there is an editorial dictate to do this. The portfolios and readers snaps are great tho. Will wait and see if I subscride again

kully
02-07-2008, 03:02
Mmm... I can read all of that while I wait for my girlfriend to choose a magazine in WH Smiths :)

And 2.25 a week is a pint of beer a week, no contest.

Charly
02-07-2008, 04:01
I've stopped buying it because has become so ill informed - it is now rather like the other miriad of photo mags on the shelves peddling ill informed advice to an audience with more knowledge than the authors in many cases - and how many times are they going to publish that picture of the lockup doors?

Roger makes a point about reviews being popular but I wonder how much they are for the target audience of this magazine? I would assume that most of the readers are shooting film and have a limited interest in the new equipment market. Sure, there are exceptions, Voightlander and Zeiss lenses are always going to be welcome items but compact digicams and Tamron 18-250 lenses?

It's a shame it has gone so downhill. Does the new editor have any background in photography at all?

nksyoon
02-07-2008, 04:47
Probably some market research told them that people didn't buy the magazine because it was too advanced and they are more interested in basic "how to take pictures" advice.

As a result we now have an article in the latest edition about how to shoot animals in a farmyard, illustrated with unremarkable pictures. The last 2 issues have been very disappointing.

john neal
02-07-2008, 05:03
I bought every issue up to about 3 months ago - around the time of the change of editor. I will not be bothering again (apart from the od scan-read in WH Smith) until it picks up.

The only things worth reading now are the Printers Art and any reviews by Frances or Roger. I know one of the contributors to Printers Art, Leon, and I notice that he has not had a look-in since the new ed came into power. I actually could not believe he had the gall to print his own "review" of the MP - it added absolutely nothing new to the sum of human knowledge.

One other thing really gets me - the new section by that Geordie twit (Les McClean) that is supposed to answer our darkroom questions - I personally find it does anything but! Add to that the recent poor production quality, and it just don't insipre like it used to.

I will probably sell my back issues too - anyone want a complete set?

Peter S
02-07-2008, 05:04
Nick, thanks for pointing me Privatephotoreview. Have ordered some numbers to see what it is like, it looks interesting. Foto8 known to me, had a subscription for a long time. Will keep an eye on them as well; really liked it and regret not having all numbers, maybe I should order backissues to make the collection complete ?

What I really liked about the old B&W was the nice mix of film/equipment reviews (and most of the time stuff that was never reviewed in such depth as in other mags) and interviews with photographers, that in combination with showing a lot of pictures.

It now spends a lot more space on digital, which we maybe have to accept as the times are changing and it is at least digital B&W. I also had the feeling that the level of the articles dropped, meaning that they are more oriented towards beginners and that I think is a mistake. Beginning photographers nowadays 9 out of 10 times shoot digital so they are probably not people that are interested in something that I still consider an "analog" magazine.

Kind of liked the quirky/whimsical (not a native speaker, so maybe not using the right words) feeling Ailsa (previous editor) gave to the mag. There were more female contributors during that period and I think that gave the magazine a more feminine touch; less focus on nitty gritty technical details, more focus on the process of taking pictures. Maybe even more philosophical, but without avoiding technical discussions. Her mix was perfect in my humble opinion.

Anyway, I read part of the thread on Apug (thanks for the pointer Schlapp) and the current editor is at least listening to the criticism. What more can we ask for ? I hope it finds a new direction as - in its kind - it really is the only halfway decent magazine around.

rich815
02-07-2008, 05:25
Hello everybody,

I assume I am not the only member here with a subscription to the UK magazine B&W photography. Just wondering whether I am alone in not really liking the new direction the mag seems to be going. Have been reading it for at least a couple of years and always looked forward to next months magazine, but with the recent change of the guard it seems as if the editor is filling up the magazine all by himself with very "interesting" stories about his adventures with a Leica MP etc etc. In the recent magazine he even discusses how to shoot sheep....

Maybe I am one of the few not liking it, but am seriously considering not renewing my subscription, but then wat? As much as the internet gives us meeting places like RFF where we can discuss photography, buy and sell equipment or just talk about fondling cameras I always have liked to also read about photography on paper. Do you have any suggestions for other magazines focussing on B&W photography ? I live in Amsterdam, but do not mind having to subscribe to an overseas mag.

P.

Dropped my subscription last year even before the new editor. Was getting too "cutesy". Only get Lenswork now, and come here from time to time.

oscroft
02-07-2008, 05:35
There do seem to have been one or two slightly weak issues recently (though I use that term relatively - it's still head and shoulders above the run of the mill rubbish that passes as photo mags in the UK*)

I haven't been reading it long enough (and I don't think the new editorial team have had long enough) to be able to tell whether there is a long-term trend or whether there have just been a few issues that have been a bit short of material and have needed a bit of stuffing - it's very very hard to fill a high-quality magazine every month.

And on the other hand, that Bailey interview was wonderful. And not just in the man himself, but in the style in which it was presented - I thought it was something of a journalistic/editorial masterpiece.

[* Talking of photo mags, I've always had a soft spot for Amateur Photographer and have been reading it on and off since the late sixties. And I only recently realised that the bearded sage whose column at the back I always first turn to for inspiration is the same Roger Hicks who graces this forum - many thanks Roger for all your contributions to this art of ours]

BillP
02-07-2008, 05:38
Dear Drew,

Very true, except that you might well be astonished at how many people REALLY CARE about reviews, and love to read them.

They're also useful for bulking a magazine out: there is a limit to how many genuinely different technique pieces you can find.

As far as possible, Frances and I try to review only kit we think we might like or need, on the grounds that if we want to know what it's like, others probably do too. It's a bit like asking on the forum here, "Anyone got a...?"

Admittedly we do the occasional 'Thought it might be interesting...' piece, and sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. We also have different reactions to different bits of kit. For example, Frances really likes the Zeiss 18/4 and I can't see the point, whereas I really love the 1,5/50 C-Sonnar and she thinks it's quite nice but would prefer the 50/2.5 Summarit.

Negative reviews almost never get published (Amateur Photographer is a noble exception) and they also stop manufacturers sending stuff out for review (no-one can afford to BUY kit for review any more).

There is, therefore, little point in writing negative reviews, but at least when Frances and I review something, we say what we think. If it's really awful, we'll contact the manufacturer and say, "We're not going to review this because..."

You can therefore be confident that if we do review something, and say we like it, we're not just being polite/keeping advertisers happy, whereas if we don't review something it may either be that we don't like it or haven't been able to get hold of it (or haven't found anyone to publish a review, which is increasingly common with film kit).

Cheers,

R.

Roger, you make an excellent point, and one that I think many overlook.

A reviewer's opinion is, by definition, ALWAYS subjective, whether they are reviewing cameras, lenses, film, films, books, restaurants, hotels, or last night's TV

If you are to make any sense of a reviewer's comments, you have to build a "relationship" with them. Read them often enough to understand their personal foibles, likes and dislikes, and how they compare to your own. A reviewer with whom you disagree is valuable for the facts they present, but also for the views they express. If you understand WHY you disagree, you can make consistent judgements based upon that.

That said, I agree with the comments about Black & White. The most recent editions have been very disappointing.

Regards,

Bill

Peter_Jones
02-07-2008, 05:45
I think the magazine should revert back a few months, it was much more inspirational then, but now seems to be heading down the "AP" formula. Will certain features be repeated every 12 months ?

I would consider a subscription if it became a better read - as in substance, I prefer something I can get my teeth into rather than gramatically correct padding.

Equipment reviews are OK, just seems a bit much Digi bias recently. As for the "photographing sheep" feature.....................

pfoto
02-07-2008, 07:38
Unfortunately I renewed my subscription just before Ailsa left. I wonder if you can cancel it and get a refund? I'm a film fotog so I liked all the darkroom-related articles - I even liked the homey descriptions of reader's darkrooms, and I'm not interested in any of the digital-related articles that are beginning to dominate. The other thing I liked about the magazine was the photos, they used to be really good, not so much any more. The equipment reviews are poor and the last one about the MP by the editor was truly pathetic. I don't know why I read equipment reviews anyway. All in all the magazine is on a slide and hindsight is a wonderful thing, if I was paying attention I probably wouldn't have renewed. I have written to the editor about my concerns though.

shadowfox
02-07-2008, 07:53
Hmmm, no magazine will be able to satisfy all its readers. But I think y'all who could so eloquently recite what's bad about that magazine ought to band up and write a petition. Sign it, and hand it to the editor.

Also, what's wrong with digital articles now and then? is putting on blinders and never consider the doors and options it opens up always better?

Peter_Jones
02-07-2008, 08:15
I don't mind digital articles as such, but they seem to have "switched". and become much more consumer-oriented.

Charly
02-07-2008, 08:27
I'm glad that the new ed is "listening" but I think that he is part of the problem rather than the solution - I am not convinced he has any knowledge of photography or the equipment involved. He doesn't know a softbox from a brolly! Whilst I did enjoy the Bailey interview, the standard of photography was terrible - he looked like a fisherman!

The digital/film stuff - if it was writing high end articles on conversions and printing techniques then I'd be listening and interested. I think they are missing a trick in ignoring the "digital alternative process" that some are doing, making digital negatives. I think that they are missing something bigger in ignoring scanning to print. I have no problem with digital - indeed, I'd shoot it given an M8 - but there articles on the system seem to start with "This is a computer, and this is the "on" button" and if you are that computer illiterate, learning a darkroom is easier!

Steve Litt
02-07-2008, 11:20
I subscribe to B/W and have done since it started.I too feel it has not been up to standard lately.However for me it was worth the cost this month to see the readers picture,"Berts Dominoes" .I always enjoy reading Francis"s reviews and the other regular contributors but I don't like the inclusion of color photos and believe the Editor,in the main,should stick to editing and not embarrass himself with articles like the Bleating Beauties in this months issue.
Regards
Steve

Roger Hicks
02-07-2008, 12:22
R. Isn't this rather like 'lying by ommition"? Don't you're readers have a right to the truth.
[/COLOR]
Dear P.

Sort of. But the choice is between 'lying by omission' and 'being out of the loop entirely'. If we said 'So-and-so is a load of rubbish' then the readers wouldn't have the a 'right to the truth' for long. Better (we believe) to praise good kit justly, and not write up bad kit, than praise everything because we're being paid to praise rubbish.

It's true that it's a lot easier to praise some manufacturers (not products) than other, but some manufacturers who produce both good stuff and indifferent/bad have very thin skins when it comes to 'Why did they bother?'

Then again, sometimes our reaction is, "How much do we care?"

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
02-07-2008, 12:30
Is it not worth buying to read Ivor Mantle & Roger Hicks?
Dear P.

You might very well think that.

I couldn't possibly comment.

Cheers,

R.

Lol999
02-09-2008, 03:49
I let my subscription slip at the end of the year and I'm glad I did. I don't see anything remotely "expert" about the technique for shooting sheep. Also, the editor has an apparent fondness for appearing in the magazine. Great if you've got something interesting to say, but otherwise forget it. If the production team are struggling to put out a good monthly read then go back to bi-monthly. Get rid of the damned digital listings. Let's be right about this, b&w mag isn't likely to appeal to the average Joe shooting digital pics of geese in the park, sunsets whilst on a drive with the wife or his kids/grand kids so stop trying to appeal to him. If financial factors are involved in the change in direction of the magazine re-examine the business model, starting with frequency of publication.
I can reccommend highly a magazine I came across called PhotoIcon. I think it's quarterly but well worth the wait. Buying b&w has become a habit that I need to re-examine.

Cheers, Lol

thorirv
02-09-2008, 04:57
... Better (we believe) to praise good kit justly, and not write up bad kit, than praise everything because we're being paid to praise rubbish.


.


so much for independency!
before i quit reading b&w (that was before new editor btw) i couldn't help finding the "reviews" a rather useless waiting room reading material, something that didn't say anything, and didn't piss anyone off. that goes for most photomagasines though. the only places i feel that i'm reading an honest piece of text is by some online reviewers...


but then... the amount of time i've wasted reading equipm reviews.. ,-)

Roger Hicks
02-09-2008, 05:17
so much for independency!
before i quit reading b&w (that was before new editor btw) i couldn't help finding the "reviews" a rather useless waiting room reading material, something that didn't say anything, and didn't piss anyone off. that goes for most photomagasines though. the only places i feel that i'm reading an honest piece of text is by some online reviewers...


but then... the amount of time i've wasted reading equipm reviews.. ,-)
I fully take your point, but consider also the origins of some online reviews:

1 People who have bought kit and are desperately trting to persuade themselves they have made the right choice

2 People who have bought kit and are utterly unhappy they've made the wrong choice.

As you say, so much for independence. But do you really believe that there are ANY reviews, ANYWHERE, in the last 20 years or so, that have no axe to grind, one way or the other?

There's also the point that I don't WANT to review crap. I'm really only interested in stuff I might want to use. And I think that these reviews:

http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photoschool/ps%20firstlook%20summarit.html

http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photoschool/ps%20firstlook%20sonnar%2050.html

are both pretty fair. Of course we're not beholden to advertisers but in addition to my earlier comments you have to remember that (a) everyone has to eat and (b) miserable buggers who like reading negative reviews are also too mean to pay for a good magazine or even web-site.

One further point is that by the time you can get kit for review, you are rarely in the position of the beginner who is desperately scrambling to afford a second-hand body and lens. As a friend said of digital imaging, "The dirty little secret here is that we are all using other people's state-of-the-art computers." You therefore have to aim off slightly for the fact that most reviewers can compare the product in question with a WIDE range of other kit. Or at least, they can if they are worth taking seriously.

Cheers,

R.

thorirv
02-09-2008, 08:46
"I fully take your point, but consider also the origins of some online reviews:

1 People who have bought kit and are desperately trting to persuade themselves they have made the right choice

2 People who have bought kit and are utterly unhappy they've made the wrong choice."

either way, those are the last kinds of review i would read, for anything other than the amusement.
if i'm after something, and need a fact or two to see if it's the right piece of gadget for me, i normally wouldn't rely on the overly happy consumer, or the depressed one. who would? it's been too long since i found out that my needs are (very, most of the time) different from most reviewers'.


"As you say, so much for independence. But do you really believe that there are ANY reviews, ANYWHERE, in the last 20 years or so, that have no axe to grind, one way or the other?"

perhaps true, maybe i was being a little naive.


"There's also the point that I don't WANT to review crap. I'm really only interested in stuff I might want to use. And I think that these reviews:

http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photo...0summarit.html

http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photo...nnar%2050.html

are both pretty fair."

didn't read them, but i take your word for it.


"Of course we're not beholden to advertisers but in addition to my earlier comments you have to remember that

(a) everyone has to eat and "

indeed!


"(b) miserable buggers who like reading negative reviews are also too mean to pay for a good magazine or even web-site."

point taken (though i've paid for more www's and magazines than i care to admit). thing is, i find equipment reviews rather boring, but it happens every now and then that i need to be able to check a spec sheet and/or get some practical info about equipment. mostly because i live in a town without a professional photo shop. though, i can't honestly say that i like reading neg reviews, but if one is "reviewing" something, i expect it to be honest. not based on the next paycheck from "CaNiPeSoLePaOl", indirectly or not.


"One further point is that by the time you can get kit for review, you are rarely in the position of the beginner who is desperately scrambling to afford a second-hand body and lens. As a friend said of digital imaging, "The dirty little secret here is that we are all using other people's state-of-the-art computers." You therefore have to aim off slightly for the fact that most reviewers can compare the product in question with a WIDE range of other kit. Or at least, they can if they are worth taking seriously."

needless to say.. but if a reviewer wants to be taken seriously, and he/she only reviews "the good stuff" ??


"Cheers,

R."

best
thorir v. (aka the miserable bugger who expects reviewers to say what needs to be said ,-)

pfoto
02-09-2008, 09:44
Reading reviews in a magazine is a waste of time. B&W Photography is particularly hopeless. I remember a vague review some months ago that ended with a comment about the piece of kit going well with what you might be wearing... :rolleyes: If you want a decent and reasonably unbiased review then you have to fork out for it and not let advertisers pay for it. Why some people complain about having to pay for Sean Reid's reviews is a mystery to me.

EmilGil
02-09-2008, 10:51
I bought B&W for a couple of years before I decided to take a 2 year subscription about 1.5 years ago. Don't know if I'll renew it after the summer, I have to agree on the declining standard. Too much digital bollocks and reviews, too little focus on the images and b&w techniques.

It's also very slow on delivery, usually I get it in the mailbox 2-3 weeks after it shows up at the news agent :mad:

Roger Hicks
02-09-2008, 11:45
i find equipment reviews rather boring, but it happens every now and then that i need to be able to check a spec sheet and/or get some practical info about equipment. mostly because i live in a town without a professional photo shop. though, i can't honestly say that i like reading neg reviews, but if one is "reviewing" something, i expect it to be honest. not based on the next paycheck from "CaNiPeSoLePaOl", indirectly or not.

Edited insert: I agree completely

"One further point is that by the time you can get kit for review, you are rarely in the position of the beginner who is desperately scrambling to afford a second-hand body and lens. As a friend said of digital imaging, "The dirty little secret here is that we are all using other people's state-of-the-art computers." You therefore have to aim off slightly for the fact that most reviewers can compare the product in question with a WIDE range of other kit. Or at least, they can if they are worth taking seriously."

needless to say.. but if a reviewer want to be taken seriously, and he/she only reviews "the good stuff" ??

best
thorir v. (aka the miserable bugger who expects reviewers to say what needs to be said ,-)
Dear Thorir,

There is also an ancient skill known as 'reading between the lines'.

But apart from that, yes, reviewing only the good stuff probably works. Otherwise, you won't get much to review, for long.

Maybe it's worth trying 'real' reviews. i.e. if something doesn't work, telling the readers instead of telling the manufacturer that it needs re-thinking. It is possible that if they really want to make good kit, they won't resent this.

But even then, there are three more problems.

First, take something like the Nikon D70. Horribly complicated (far too many buttons, counter-intuitive menus) but I was still prepared to lay out my own money on one because it did what I wanted at a reasonable price.

Second, why would I WANT to review crap? Reviews pay very badly. If you do them properly (instead of rewriting press releases, which I have hard journalists boast about doing) then they pay well below minimum wage per hour. For Frances and me, the only thing makes reviews worth the effort is using good kit. Otherwise, tests get in the way of taking pictures: it's a lot more enjoyable to take real pics with kit you like than with kit you have to struggle with. Put briefly, if I don't like the camera, I can't be assed to finish the test. It's not worth the money or the aggravation.

Third, as you point out, your needs aren't mine; and even I can be unsure what my needs are. Thus I really wanted to review the Fotoman 810. I was disappointed: not because there is anything wrong with the camera, but because an 8x10 point-and-shoot didn't suit me as well as I expected. IF you want an 8x10PS, it is a superb camera. Turned out I wanted one less than I expected. How do you want me to phrase that?

Which brings me back to 'reading between the lines'.

Finally, you don't seem to be too keen on taking any reviewer seriously. Fine. I can relate to that. But I can also relate to reading a review by someone whose biases and opinions I know, and thinking, "OK, if he likes that, it's probably good" or "If he hates that, I'll probably like it." I use the same technique with literary reviews, and bought The Great Indian Novel by, as far as I recall, Shashi Tharoor, on the strength of a really negative review in the Los Angeles Times.

Which brings me back yet again to 'reading between the lines'.

Cheers,

R.

thorirv
02-09-2008, 12:19
First, take something like the Nikon D70. Horribly complicated (far too many buttons, counter-intuitive menus) but I was still prepared to lay out my own money on one because it did what I wanted at a reasonable price.

a good example of what works for me/works for you. i used one for four years i think, and found it an awfully simple piece of machinery, not perfect but not with such a price tag either..


Second, why would I WANT to review crap? Reviews pay very badly.

i have no idea. i've never gotten the urge to write one myself....


If you do them properly (instead of rewriting press releases, which I have hard journalists boast about doing) then they pay well below minimum wage per hour. For Frances and me, the only thing makes reviews worth the effort is using good kit. Otherwise, tests get in the way of taking pictures: it's a lot more enjoyable to take real pics with kit you like than with kit you have to struggle with.

excactly!


Put briefly, if I don't like the camera, I can't be assed to finish the test. It's not worth the money or the aggravation.

hmm.. i thought if one set out to review, he/she would review. and not "see if i like it and if it's good i'll give it an A". the approach sounds iffy to my ears, unprofessional. but that's maybe the key, who's a professional reviewer, and who does it for the pleasure.?


Third, as you point out, your needs aren't mine; and even I can be unsure what my needs are. Thus I really wanted to review the Fotoman 810. I was disappointed: not because there is anything wrong with the camera, but because an 8x10 point-and-shoot didn't suit me as well as I expected. IF you want an 8x10PS, it is a superb camera. Turned out I wanted one less than I expected. How do you want me to phrase that?

surely you could have reviewed the piece even though you didn't like it personally!


Which brings me back to 'reading between the lines'.

Finally, you don't seem to be too keen on taking any reviewer seriously.

how did you get that impression?



Fine. I can relate to that. But I can also relate to reading a review by someone whose biases and opinions I know, and thinking, "OK, if he likes that, it's probably good" or "If he hates that, I'll probably like it."

so you should have finished the fotoman review after all ...
and your returning readers would have read it with all the proper filters... ,-)



I use the same technique with literary reviews, and bought The Great Indian Novel by, as far as I recall, Shashi Tharoor, on the strength of a really negative review in the Los Angeles Times.

Which brings me back yet again to 'reading between the lines'.

Cheers,

R.




in good spirit.!

th

BillP
02-09-2008, 12:24
So to put it simply Roger, you're saying that one needs to know the psychological profile of the reviewer, understand ones own psychological profile, and then read between the lines.
What nonsense!


Hm.

I think that Roger is making the same point I did two days ago on this very thread:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showpost.php?p=745623&postcount=25

You need to form a "relationship" with the reviewer, built up over a period of time, to understand their likes and dislikes and how they relate to your own. By doing so their reviews become more useful to you. Is that so hard to do?

Simple example - when Jeremy Clarkson still reviewed cars I used to pay attention to him simply because he is a similar build to me and an inch taller; if he fitted behind the wheel, so would I.

Regards,

Bill

Roger Hicks
02-09-2008, 12:34
What nonsense!
If you don't like the gear you're reviewing and the pay is no good, maybe you should go back to writing cook-books.
Dear Pitxu,

Um... You're missing the point.

Before we go any further, a simple question, divided into two parts. First, what do you do/did you do for a living? Second, would you defend to the death every single aspect of how you do/did that job? If you do/did the perfect job, perfectly every time, I salute you. If you say do/did the best you can/could, I'd find your testiony easier to believe.

I request for review gear that I think might be interesting. No incentive to do the other sort.

Then, unless it's bloody awful, I review it fairly and honestly. If it's really bloody awful and I say so, the chances of finding an editor who will run the review are slender. I could run a bloody awful review on the web-site, but why bother? Why put myself to the labour of continuing to review a piece of rubbish, and then writing it up? The more so as I would immediately get a load of mail from people who had bought it and called me an idiot, a liar, etc., to say nothing of the manufacturers or their PR outfit.

How else do you think reviews work? Take a look at the old Which Magazine or Consumer Reports for examples of so-called unbiased reviews. Pseudo-objective tests are carried out by professional testers, not people who actually use the product. This was how the Austin Gypsy was found to be a better buy than a Land Rover, and how (as I recall) Pentax came out as the top SLR, trouncing Nikon and Canon. Both reviews are from decades ago, I hasten to add: I've not bothered to read either magazine since.

If you can't read between the lines; if you don't have some knowledge of the reviewer's preferences and prejudices; then there's no point whatsoever in reading any reviews.

The manufacturers' brochures will give you the raw specifications, usually accurately. If you're satisfied with that, fine. Otherwise, you may find reviews useful. If you don't; well, as I said earlier, you might be surprised at how popular they are with many readers. To say 'no-one reads reviews' is on a par with saying 'no-one needs fast lenses' or 'no-one needs ultrawides,' etc., when the true meaning is 'I don't read reviews or use fast lenses or ultrawides, so nobody is interested.'

Cheers,

Roger

Roger Hicks
02-09-2008, 12:45
(Edit: of the Nikon D70) a good example of what works for me/works for you. i used one for four years i think, and found it an awfully simple piece of machinery, not perfect but not with such a price tag either..


Indeed; which is why I made my point about your needs and mine.

I'll ask you the same question as I asked Pitxu, about what you do/did for a living, and whether it is/was always perfect and fully defensible.

I did finish the Fotoman review, and said pretty much what I've said in the above, and it was published.

Among professional reviewers, I'm better regarded than most, because I actually use the kit and (if it's not unusable) say what I think about it. The same is true of my wife Frances Schultz. My observations about amateur reviewers are summarized in the earlier post.

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
02-09-2008, 12:53
He writes "Cook-books". Are we expected to read his recipes "between the lines?
Well, yes. If you don't know how much salt and pepper you like, or when something is cooked to your liking, then you can't cook. If I say, "This is delicious", and it contains lots of meat, and you're a vegetarian, you can form another opinion.

Reviews are even further from simple do-this, do-that lists. They are not lists of specifications: they are reviewers' opinions. What else can they be?

Reading between the lines is a basic skill. If you really don't have it, then presumably you believe everything you are told. As this appears not to be the caae, we may assume that you can, in fact, read between the lines. You just prefer to pretend, on occasion, that you cannot.

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
02-09-2008, 12:57
Dear Roger,

I was a proffesional soldier in the British Army and had I not done my job perfectly I would indeed be dead.

I thank you for your salutation.
Dear Pitxu,

If you always did everything perfectly, then indeed, you deserve more salutations than I can bestow. Presumably you retired as a general?

You must also have been unique among soldiers I have known in always receiving orders that were perfectly thought out, and then executing them perfectly to the letter.

Cheers,

R.

BillP
02-09-2008, 13:09
Firstly Bill, All I know of Roger is what I've read on this forum and a little on his site, and from that knowledge I have no desire to "form a relationship" with him.
He admits to only reviewing gear that he likes and to not finishing reviews of gear he does not like. He then says we should read between the lines.

He writes "Cook-books". Are we expected to read his recipes "between the lines?

Pixtu, I fear you are being a little obtuse.

This doesn't relate specifically to Roger. For example, theatre critics tastes vary, but they are generally consistent. If I read a theatre critic often enough, I form a view of his views that enables me to know whether or not a particular play will appeal to me, based on whether or not it appealed to him. This, as I suspect you realise, is what I mean by "forming a relationship"

And yes, I would ALWAYS "read between the lines" in a cook book. I don't want to slavishly follow, I want to insert my own interpretation.

Regards,

Bill

Roger Hicks
02-09-2008, 13:33
Dear Pitxu,

My commiserations. Clearly your talents were not recognized by your imperfect superiors. I rejoice, however, that you served Mrs. Thatcher perfectly.

Returning to the subject of reviews, it seems to me there are two possibilities.

One is that everyone stops writing reviews. The other is that those who do not like reviews need not read them.

On the basis of history, the latter seems much likelier to come to pass than the former.

Cheers,

R.

BillP
02-09-2008, 13:45
Bill, I'm perfectly capable of reading "between the lines", but having to do so while reading a technical review, insinuates that the reviewer is not to be taken at his word. Is this your meaning of the word "obtuse"?

Hi Pixtu. I hope my meaning is clear. The object of the review may be a machine, but the reviewer is by definition "only human", therefore most of what they say is open to interpretation.

They need not be trying to deceive, but they will see things differently to you. You may look at the same sky, but you may describe it as "blue", while they call it "azure".

Regards,

Bill

Roger Hicks
02-09-2008, 14:31
I didn't serve Mrs Thatcher, I served my (then) Queen and country. Thatcher was merely resident at No 10.

"Clearly your talents were not recognized by your imperfect superiors"

Whatever brings you to this conclusion?

I find it most strange and ignorant that you could "rejoice" at the horrors of war, death and injury, and then finish with "Cheers".
Dear Pitxu,

As Mrs. Thatcher was to a considerable extent responsible for the prosecution of the Falklands war, and as everything you did was by your own assertion perfect, her perfect orders (at the other end of a fairly long chain of command) must surely mean that you were serving her.

If your superiors had been aware of your perfection, surely you would have been promoted beyond sergeant. At least, if you define perfection in soldiering as winning just wars with the minimum of casualties. Though come to think of it, I am aware of the theory that sergeants are the Supreme Beings in any army. You no doubt know the old joke containing such lines as 'Can leap quite tall buildings at a single bound, talks to God on a regular basis' (captains, as I recall), which ends with the revelation that the Sergeant-Major is, in fact, God.

Do not be too hasty to project your own world-picture on others. I did not rejoice at the horrors of war, death and injury; rather, at your perfect Army service, which must (see para 1) have involved carrying out Mrs. T.'s perfect orders. If her orders were not perfect, then surely, your own service (in carrying them out) must have been less than perfect.

To date, you have accused me of calling Cartier-Bresson a liar [edit: in another thread, lest anyone think I have completely taken leave of my senses]; of glorying in war and its concomitant disasters; and of 'ignorance'. Any of these misconceptions might have been averted if you had taken the trouble to read what I had written, and to consider the possibility that there are others who do not think as you do. I hope you will forgive me if I end,

Cheers,

R.

thorirv
02-09-2008, 14:39
this has become the weirdest of threads...

i apologize to the original poster for my part in hijacking it, and at the risk of doing so again (and in vague attempt to get back on topic); i stopped reading b&w because i lost interest in it. mike johnston (who was about the only constant attraction about the mag) runs a website on his own.

Roger Hicks
02-09-2008, 15:50
Roger,
1: I did read what you had written...
P.
Dear Pixtu,

Possibly (though I remain to be fully convinced). But you do not often seem to consider the possibility that there are others whose world-picture is not the same as yours. You read something; you assume yours is the only possible interpretation; you attack that interpretation...

Cheers,

R.

rich815
02-09-2008, 15:57
Roger....Pitxu......with all due respect, take it off list please.....

BillP
02-09-2008, 16:32
hmm... i don't know what vs of black and white you folks have been reading but i was browsing the latest issue (i have a subscription) and found it A/ quite informative in regards to b+w and B/ devoid of the masses of equipment reviews discussed at length here.
odd...

Emraphoto, the Black and White being referred to in this thread is the UK magazine. I believe there is an unconnected US one too.

Regards,

Bill

pfoto
02-09-2008, 17:49
Roger....Pitxu......with all due respect, take it off list please.....Indeed. Very tedious.

I wonder if I'm being punished for my posts. I don't seem to have had a B&W Photography in the mail for quite a while. The last one I got was number 80, the Christmas issue. On top of the content sliding, the delivery seems to be kind of random too. :confused:

slm
02-09-2008, 21:09
There was one month where the importer (I guess it was the importer) slapped a sticker with a higher price than the printed one on the magazine (the CAD price that is). I refused to buy it, as I thought the additional charge was someone trying to price gouge, and the magazine not knowing what was going on. I emailed the publisher letting them know, and never heard a word. Now the printed price on the January issue has simply been increased to above $9.00 (If I remember correctly). The content would have to be outstanding and not be available anywhere else to justify that price. I'm no longer buying it.

Roger Hicks
02-10-2008, 02:48
Roger....Pitxu......with all due respect, take it off list please.....
Sorry.

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
02-10-2008, 02:50
hey bill, i have a subscription to the one out of the uk and the last issue has a section on pushing/pulling film...
Was that the Frances Schultz piece? We've not received a voucher copy yet.

Cheers,

R.

ath
02-10-2008, 03:08
Was that the Frances Schultz piece? We've not received a voucher copy yet.

Cheers,

R.

Yes.
(and wasting space for the forum software)

kram
02-10-2008, 05:42
Finished reading this month's mag. It's got some good stuff in there, but I agree it has gone a little light weight under the new ed. I like equipment/film/developer etc. reviews - if they are indepth and not, what seems, the standard fair of 'its new, it replaces the old xyz, so its better' reports. Comments on Francis review of the new TMAX 400 - could be a little longer. What would have been great would have been a photo with the new and old TMAX - would the difence show up in the reproduction of the mag?

Yes, there does seem to be alot of article by Dave C -his editorial is fine, but I agree with others on the leica MP and farm article. I do enjoy reader gallery -some great photo and intersting observations (the Nikon D200 seems to struggle with the paddy fields photo, resolution/tone etc - but fine for the street trader:-) ). Love printer's art, second hand cameras, Mike J's articles. and strangely classic cameras - would like these articles to be slightly longer. And yes the digital SLR camera listing needs to be off set with 35mm SLR and rangefinder (when a new digital rangefinder comes out they can put that in).
What about and indepth review of the Adox CMS 20 film (in two type of developers). I also agree there nothing really out there to compare to the mag. I have looked at Silvershotz, but it does nothing for me.

Roger Hicks
02-10-2008, 06:15
Comments on Francis review of the new TMAX 400 - could be a little longer. What would have been great would have been a photo with the new and old TMAX - would the difence show up in the reproduction of the mag?

Hard to tell, but when you make prints, the new stuff has far more 'sparkle'. It's also a lot more forgiving of exposure errors (over always better than under) and of developers/development regime.

We did submit one pair of TMY/400-2 TMY pics but presumably they were not used, whether for reasons of space or because they reckoned it wouldn't show. We've not seen a voucher copy yet.

Space is always a problem: one person's 'must read' is another's 'why bother?' and there is an obvious limit to the amount one can squeeze in.

Magazines always say (justly) 'pay more attention to what we say than to the illustrations' because it is impossible to run magazine illustrations to 'fine art' standards at a believable price across a large print run. The web is even more deceptive, of course.

Cheers,

R.

kram
02-11-2008, 10:27
Space is always a problem: one person's 'must read' is another's 'why bother?' and there is an obvious limit to the amount one can squeeze in.
.
Cheers Roger, its good to know you tried to get a photo of the old TMAX in. My personal opinion would be to... reduce the 'whats in the next issue' to half a page, or less (just have the type and no photo):D

Do you know of any plans to test the Adox CMS 20 film in forth coming issues?

Roger Hicks
02-11-2008, 11:48
Do you know of any plans to test the Adox CMS 20 film in forth coming issues?
'Fraid not. We've not volunteered to try it -- but maybe someone will.

Cheers,

R.

ZebGoesZeiss
02-11-2008, 12:38
1) Adox CMS 20 is gold. I would burn every single roll of Tri-X to keep that film alive. But I guess I wouldn't have to, really: There's about 10000 ft of it in my freezer :D

2) PLEASE take that bitching in PM's or e-mail, it kind of ruins it for everyone else.

Roger Hicks
02-11-2008, 12:59
1) Adox CMS 20 is gold. I would burn every single roll of Tri-X to keep that film alive. But I guess I wouldn't have to, really: There's about 10000 ft of it in my freezer :D

2) PLEASE take that bitching in PM's or e-mail, it kind of ruins it for everyone else.
1) Your enthusiasm well illustrates why I didn't fancy reviewing it. Those who love it, will love it. The likelihood of my loving it is slender, because I've never found a film of this type (slow, ultra-high-resolution microfilm derivative) that I have liked. This doesn't mean it's crap; it just means that I've always thought it a better idea to use a bigger format instead.

I'd be a fool to try a film that doesn't interest me, whether I were writing it up or not, and a still bigger fool to run the risk of a review which said (in effect) 'those who quite like this kind of thing will find that this is the kind of thing they quite like'.

2) It is hardly a good idea to encourage bitching and personal attacks in PMs or e-mails. Would you like to receive a PM entitled 'pompous drivel'? Because that was Pitxu's last message to me.

If insults, sniping and bitching are unsuitable for the forum, they are equally unsuitable for a PM.

Cheers,

R.

ZebGoesZeiss
02-11-2008, 13:37
1) Your enthusiasm well illustrates why I didn't fancy reviewing it. Those who love it, will love it. The likelihood of my loving it is slender, because I've never found a film of this type (slow, ultra-high-resolution microfilm derivative) that I have liked. This doesn't mean it's crap; it just means that I've always thought it a better idea to use a bigger format instead.

I'd be a fool to try a film that doesn't interest me, whether I were writing it up or not, and a still bigger fool to run the risk of a review which said (in effect) 'those who quite like this kind of thing will find that this is the kind of thing they quite like'.

2) It is hardly a good idea to encourage bitching and personal attacks in PMs or e-mails. Would you like to receive a PM entitled 'pompous drivel'? Because that was Pitxu's last message to me.

If insults, sniping and bitching are unsuitable for the forum, they are equally unsuitable for a PM.

Cheers,

R.

1) I understand that.
2) I agree, such behaviour shouldn't be tolerated neither on a forum or in PM's.

Thea
02-25-2008, 12:39
Hi all,
I am so glad I am not the only one disheartened by the latest issues of BW Magazine. I have been a subscriber since issue 4, and with heavy heart cancelled my subscription last week.
In my opinion the magazine has become too digitally orientated (If I want to read about Digital equipment, I'll buy DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY). The last straw was, for me, the letters regarding the recent penchant for nudes on the covers.
I was sad to give it up, but as others have rightly pointed out, there are other magazines to buy....
Thea

sircarl
08-14-2008, 03:16
I just got the latest issue of B&W Photography in the mail, and I'm relieved I didn't cancel my subscription, as I was thinking of. It's like a new magazine. I found the articles very informative (I now know what a "limited edition" is and how best to convert color images to mono), and the new graphic design is sharp. Thanks to recently appointed editor Elizabeth Roberts it has become much more professional. If you've gone off it, maybe you should have another look.

EmilGil
08-14-2008, 04:20
Carl, what issue is that?

I didn't renew my subscription this summer for many reasons but I might pick it up again later. I only wish they would speed up the delivery a bit, almost every issue arrived 2-4 weeks later than announced in the previous issue.

sircarl
08-14-2008, 04:23
It's September 2008 (no. 89).

pfoto
08-14-2008, 05:43
It is much better since they got rid of Corfield as editor. There's a looooong thread on APUG about all the editorial issues. The editorial staff and major contributors chime in from time to time.

digihater
12-03-2008, 06:32
As a newbie to the forum and having skimmed this thread ( I got lost in it after the war of opinion so to speak began) I wonder why with all the highly intelligent people and the vast amount of experience in here you haven't started your own B&W / Colour online pdf mag. Call me dense but it can't be that hard to put up surely or to sell via say paypal or other means.

What a waste of intellect and resources it is not to get all you people with vast amounts of experience arguing over how a mag has gone bad when you could write reams of stuff for people like me and others who know far less. Ok you post to the forum and so thats "memorialised" so to speak but how much do you all know yet have never shared, or wanted too but never did.

I would rather buy a mag in pdf format from peopel like yourselves than from some company that I perceive as a lot of people sitting behind desks dunking donuts in coffe whilst staring at the latest gift sent them for review by canon or such, However wrong I may be I perceive them as nothing more than desk jockeys who sell whatever is thrown at them by a company that may say "keep it, call it a gift" and they then feel they have to say nice things or never get another pressie, I would rather read and trust what the everyday user like you guys say.

Just a thought, ignore me, I am sure you will.

peter_n
12-03-2008, 13:32
I think most don't have the time to contribute to deadlines, this is a very casual community - members come and go. RFF has published two books of member pictures though and they are very informative in their own way.

Roger Hicks
12-03-2008, 14:46
. . . some company that I perceive as a lot of people sitting behind desks dunking donuts in coffe whilst staring at the latest gift sent them for review by canon or such, However wrong I may be I perceive them as nothing more than desk jockeys who sell whatever is thrown at them by a company that may say "keep it, call it a gift" and they then feel they have to say nice things or never get another pressie.

Not an accurate perception. Most magazines are far from over-staffed, and most kit has to be returned.

Yes, journalists get to try a lot of kit. But as I always say, I can't be bribed. If it's good, I'll say so even without a freebie (e.g. Contax when they were in business), and if it's not good, I won't praise it (e.g. can't say or I'd never get more kit for review, but the manufacturers know what gets reviewed and what doesn't -- and why would I want to keep kit I don't like?).

Private individuals who buy gear, on the other hand, are often under one of two pressures. Either they have to persuade themselves it was worth the money, or they're pissed off because they've spent a fortune and it isn't perfect.

Journalists aren't perfect (I know, I've been doing it for decades) but on balance I'd rather trust a journalist than someone with (a) an axe to rtind and (b) very little to compare it with.

You might care to look at http://www.rogerandfrances.com/reviews.html for what I hope are reasonably realistic reviews.

Cheers,

Roger