An experiment in camera reviews

20 comments on An experiment in camera reviews
1 minute

I’m trying an experiment today: I updated a camera review from many years ago and republished it as new today. It’s the post immediately before this one.

I’ve added a redirect on the old URL so searches come to the new review.

So many of my reviews are very old — the first one on this site, of the Kodak Retina Ia, dates to 2008. Have you ever read it? I doubt it. It might be interesting to republish it. Trouble is, I don’t own that camera anymore. I have nothing more to say about it.

I do still own the Kodak Monitor Six-20, on the other hand, and have used it recently. I’ve learned more about how to make good images with it, more about its quirks, more about its shortcomings. I have something new to say about it.

Feedback welcome — is this a good idea or not?


20 responses to “An experiment in camera reviews”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Since I love old cameras, I’d say this is fine, especially if you update it with more information or a different feeling about the camera from recent usage. I’d say I’d put a time limit on it, like it has to be over three years old or so before you’ll revisit, BUT, if you have a “revelation” moment by reusing the camera, then that’s always interesting to hear.

    Gotta say, I love old 120 folders, in fact, I have a lot of vintage cameras laying around, too many for my age; I need to get rid of a lot of this stuff before it’s someone else’s problem because I’m gone! But a lot of these have been given to me by people saying: Hey look what I found at a yard sale! So my “grouping” is all over the place! I didn’t actually make a conscious buying decision to own all this stuff! I’m really thinking of selling all the extraneous stuff on-line, even tho most of it I probably wouldn’t get much for any of it; and then concentrate on just getting mint condition, useable, folding 120’s from the ’30’s to the ’60’s. I would walk around with one of these in my pocket, probably for the rest of my life.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I like the way you put it, about a revelation moment. That’s something significant and new to say about the camera, and it warrants a review update.

      I’d love to see the work you would do with an old folder always in your pocket!

  2. Mike Avatar

    Good idea to revisit some of the older reviews. Might give some newer readers ideas of cameras that aren’t usually covered in other sites.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I appreciate the feedback. Don’t want to bore people with “yeah, I’ve seen that already” but I also want to pull old good content out of the basement and give it a new moment in the sun.

  3. Mike Connealy Avatar

    That’s a very good review about using an important end-of-the-line Kodak folder. I would guess that a lot of people found it through Google search. My own pattern has been to add a new blog post each time I use a particular camera, but revising and adding to a single post seems just as good in some ways. The blog format imposes some constraints over one’s choices.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Last year my existing Monitor review got 280 views, mostly thanks to search-driven traffic. Google prefers fresh content, and that review was written in 2012. I’m hopeful that revising and republishing it (and redirecting the old review URL to come here) will boost its visibility in Google search results and connect more people with it.

      I add a new blog post every time I use a particular camera, too, but sometimes I learn new things about the camera or gain deeper insight into it. It seems valuable to add that information to my review, and then to consider the review to be the core article on this site about that camera.

      Last year I revised a great number of reviews, but only edited them and resaved them. They retained their original publish date and did not get re-sent to subscribers. This time I’m trying republishing for the reason stated above. We’ll see what effect it has!

  4. ronian42 Avatar

    I think revisiting old reviews is not a bad idea if you still have the camera and the time to update the review. Think about how much you have learned about photography, cameras and exposure since the original was written. Also, when you originally wrote this review were you able to develop your own film? I think you have also mentioned recently that you changed your scanner and have had improved results with scanning now. So if you have the time and resources why not update reviews?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve had some of the same thoughts. I have learned a lot since I wrote some of my early reviews! I sort of wish I still had the cameras for a few of my early reviews so I could rewrite them entirely and do the cameras justice.

  5. Kurt Ingham Avatar

    Good idea!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for weighing in!

  6. adventurepdx Avatar

    I think there is great value in updates and revisits to old camera reviews. There’s plenty of camera reviews out there. But most of them seem to be a listing of technical specs (which is no doubt good) and an initial impression of shooting one to three rolls through said camera.So we don’t know what people feel about the camera after using it more. (That is if they do. I get the feeling that a lot of people don’t return to the camera after the review.)

    Coming back to a camera a year or three after the initial exposure (or after an aha! moment as mentioned above) can make for a real valuable review. At that point we can really know what we like and don’t like about a camera. We can see how our perception of the machine has changed from that first encounter, and it could be in ways we wouldn’t have guessed.

    I’ve only been shooting film again for a year, but I just re-evaluated my experience with the Minolta Hi-Matic 7s, the camera that started it all for me. I was tempted to sell the camera, but then figured out that I liked it too much to do so:

    1. Andy Umbo Avatar
      Andy Umbo

      My high-school girlfriend had a Hi-Matic 9, I always thought those cameras were pretty nice for walking around. I have too much stuff now, but always thought I could get rid f almost all of it if I could find a really pristine 9 or 11.

      There’s a guy on Etsy from Japan that occasionally has a 7, 9, or 11, and claims they are fully functional including light meters, I often check back and think I might dive in once I start getting rid of some of my stuff!

      1. adventurepdx Avatar

        A Hi-Matic 9 would be nice! I don’t know if I’d be that into the 11 myself (even if does go to eleven), just because it was either full auto shutter-priority with no full manual exposure. So with that one you gotta make sure the meter is working properly!

      2. adventurepdx Avatar

        Oh, and thanks for the link to that Etsy shop. That seller looks to have some nice TLRs at decent prices. That’s hard to find these days.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for your perspective!

      I do write a lot of reviews based on a roll or two. Often, that’s enough for me to know I don’t want to keep the camera!

      But of the cameras that are in my permanent stable, I keep using them, and sometimes I learn more about them or change my impression of them. That’s when it seems to make sense to update and rerun the review.

      That said, I sort of wish I could go back and redo some of my earliest reviews based on all the experience I’ve gained since. But I own almost none of those cameras anymore.

      1. adventurepdx Avatar

        Yeah, I realize that not every camera you initially review is going to be a keeper. So that’s why doing a revisit of a review of the ones that are is cool. Maybe as a feature: My Keepers. The emphasis can be why they stuck around.

  7. thedullchannel Avatar

    I think it is a good idea. Oftentimes new people come to a blog and they will almost never revisit the older posts so it is nice to have those highlighted for you by the blog author.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you. Yes, that was part of my thought process as I decided to try this!

  8. Christopher May Avatar
    Christopher May

    I think this is a great idea. There’s always going to be refinement possible with a second look. You’ve learned more and the film world is ever changing so a fresh look at an old review would give your readers new insights. Additionally, while I’ve read the Retina review you referenced, I know that there are dozens of camera reviews that you’ve published that I haven’t read. So it would be a fun addition to see those pop up in my email.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Excellent. Thank you for the feedback!

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