Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/01/15

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Subject: [Leica] wrotten journalists??
From: imxputs <>
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 99 12:55:41 +0100

Alan wote partially at least:
>For the rest, one may, like Erwin, challenge test procedures and
>       criteria, but I find it very strange the way some of us reject test
>       articles as a whole by insinuating that the editors and labs are 
>       and/or incompetent and that their considerations are worthless as soon
>       as they are not sufficiently laudative for the revered L brand.

Most of Alans's post are content-rich and worth commenting upon. He is right 
in his assertion that writers and editors of photographic magazines (free 
lance or employed) do their jog as good as they can. Indeed no one would 
intentionally falsify results to please some manufacturer. 
Consider however these facts (and facts it are as I am part of this industry). 
First of all my position as a background. I earn my money outside of 
photography. I do write for several magazines in the world, sometimes for free 
sometimes for a fee. But I have no economical necessity to write agianst a 
deadline and I am fully free to choose whatever  topic I personally feel 
competent to write about. So I more often refuse than accept an invitation to 
provide an article.

Now the typical magazine-contributor or journalist. He/she must produce x 
pages of editorial content per month about topics or products that are news in 
that period. The photographic industry and the press are in a strange deadlock 
situation. When a new product (example a body or lens or film) is introduced 
the  company wants immediate and broad coverage of it by the whole press. That 
gives it a edge to the competition and ensures that as many readers as 
possible will read about it. On the other hand the press wants  newsstand 
headlines as : "the first complete test of ...", "exclusive new product 
already through our lab..". 
That is very legitimate as they need to sell magazines. No magazine will feel 
happy when they test a product two after all other magaznes had their say. The 
readers just do not wnat to buy that issue. (its old stuff). But what is the 
reality bout this mutual understanding. The particular product needs to be 
tested in a short time by many persons. That gives any journalist only a 
fraction of time. I once got a megadollar digital camera that I only could use 
for one day as before me a collegue had already booked it and the next day 
another collegue also needed to write about it. The distributor had small 
amount of samples so a tight schedule was prepared. Any journalist thus had 
one day. Mine came with the memory not erased by my collegue. He had shot 
believe me or not a very small number of pictures of mediocre standard. But 
his testreport was  full of praise. I have refused to do a test under these 
Now in a month a magazine has many products, so combinations are easy. If a 
new lens and a new film and a new body are to be tested, why not combine al 
three in one  test cycle. It is again legitimate, given time and budget 
constraints and industry/competitor pressures. 
Is it good for the comsumer? No not at all. But we all want news fast. 
Consider the typical LUG pattern when a new Leica product is announced. We all 
want instant reports about its quality and a long series of qestions about how 
this product compares to other products will be posted. The new 2/90 M apo 
will arrie in the shops after summer 1999. But we all need the testresults 

Typically a contributor/journalist will spend at most a day or less on a 
product test. Remember he/she is paid per page. If you have to spend a full 
week for a serious analysis, but your editor gives you only two pages edtorial 
space, what do you do? A week labor is then just too much, so what happens is 
a let us see what we can do approach. 
Now some writers/testers are very good and some are not so good. That reflects 
in the results obviously. 
I am critical of lens test reports because I know how many of them are 
conducted and I know the persons behind them. Alan is right that they try to 
do the best job they can, but with all pressures and constraines as mentioned,
 the usual pattern is a middle of the road report, so no one can accuse you of 
any errors. The famous MTF graphs are an example. They are generated in 
surprisingly short time and can be commented upon  again in a short time.

So here we have a situation where no one in particular or anyone in general is 
to be blamed. The press should withstand the pressure to publish asap to be 
ahead of the competion. The consumers should vote with their feet for these 
magazines with the most reflective and laborious reports and refuse to cite 
the others. The industry should provide generous and unbased support to help 
magazines with quality reviews.