So, this piece of Site News isn’t about this site - rather it is about https://dpreview.com (DPReview)
DPReview has been one of the biggest photography communities for the past 25 years. On April 10th it will be shut down and removed from the internet.
My Association With DPReview
Without DPReview I wouldn’t be the photographer that I am today.
Well, I might be - but DPReview was always the first place I would turn when I was learning photography 21 years ago.
When researching my first digital camera in 2001, I stumbled upon the DPReview site and its review of the Olympus C700uz: A 2 megapixel ultra zoom that started my photography journey.
- A screenshot of the DPReview website's Olumpus c700UZ Review
- The DPReview Olympus c700uz review
The DPReview review convinced me that the camera would be a great camera to learn on. It was right.
I took many bad photos with that camera - then when I wasn’t satisfied with the results I was getting I found myself back at DPReview, reading articles and getting advice in the forums on how I could improve.
A couple of years later DPReview helped me buy my first DSLR - A Nikon D70. Via the forums I then learnt how to use it… and what lenses I would need to get the photos I wanted.
What Went Wrong?
I’m not going to pretend to know the full situation, but the reason being given is that DPReview is no longer financially viable. Back in 2007, the site was sold to Amazon.
I remember thinking that nothing good could come of such an acquisition. Amazon doesn’t care about photography and/or photographers aside from what money can be made from them.
The site (in my opinion) started becoming less useful. Proper stories, reviews and articles were slowly replaced with ones clearly just designed to push product.
The forums became a less friendly and less helpful place - often overrun by people who were more interested in arguing and putting others down, while showing off the expensive gear they had just purchased. This probably had nothing to do with the Amazon takeover and more towards the changing nature of the internet and its place in society.
I went from a daily visitor to just checking the front page every now and again to keep up with latest camera releases. I stopped reading the forums altogether.
Why DPReivew Closing Is Bad
So why does it matter that DPReview is closing? It’s not like you can’t get the information elsewhere?
Well… yes, sort of.
I think a lot of the value for DPReview came from its extensive database of cameras and lenses. There isn’t anything else like it that I know of.
There is also a plethora of information that is currently stored in the forms (amongst the other noise). A lot can be learned from reading conversations and experiences that you just don’t get from a researched article. Millions of these conversations are about to just vanish.
- A screenshot of the DPReview website's forum list
- The list of DPReview community forums
It brings up the wider question of information loss in general. In the internet age, we as a species are at great risk of having huge amounts of information just disappear. In the past, most things were written in books, on stone tablets, and on other physical media that historians and researchers now use to gather valuable insights into civilisations long since past. What will happen in the future when a historian comes across a discarded server hard drive? It’s very unlikely they would be able to read the data from it in any meaningful way.
Hard to tell really
There is talk of trying to replicate the discussion forums at a different site. I think this will be hard to do, especially in such a short amount of time. People will likely migrate to other, already established forums (much to the ire of the people who are trying to avoid some of the… personalities… that frequent DPReview) , or move to Facebook groups instead (yuck!).
What I do hope happens is that without DPReview, a lot of the search traffic will be directed to smaller publishers - people who are more passionate about photography than running a media business. https://photographylife.com springs to mind. Brad Hill’s blog at Natural Art Images is another favourite of mine. https://bythom.com is another for an interesting take on the photographic world.
I’d love some of it to come the way of Square Pixel Photography - but have a long way to go before I have enough content here to really attract much readership. With the site switched from Wordpress to Ghost I hope to revive writing a bit more on here. We’ll see :)