Daily Gratification

Coming back from a month of not looking at the Internet, there’s one thing I noticed immediately about dpreview’s and now imaging-resource’s closures: where’s my daily gratification? 

Let’s face it, dpreview was a watering hole. All the real camera enthusiasts tended to make a stop for a quick refresher each day. Some bathed in the hole for hours every day, like an elephant wallowing. Some just stopped by for a quick sip. If you were active in photography, you not only knew about this watering hole, but you visited periodically even if not every day, as if you were a camel and didn’t need your daily infusion. (Thom, enough with the animal metaphors. But this is what happens when you sit watching animals for a month, I’ll respond.)

So where’s the daily gratification now that Amazon has taken dpreview off life support and BeBop has made Imaging-Resource (IR) disappear?

Good question. 

The rumor sites would love to step in, of course, but those will feed you mostly a diet of kickstarter and software updates that spin them lots of affiliate fees. Actual useful or thought-provoking information isn’t typically in their waters, though the Discus comment sections tend to be entertaining. A diet of rumor sites, however, means you’ll eventually dehydrate and experience delirium. 

We still have some magazine remnants that are trying to step in; they’re very late to the online party with too little water. Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer come to mind, but their water quality levels are decidedly below what they used to produce. Ad-driven content basically is only as good as the advertising stream. Fewer ads, less content. Less expensive ads, lower quality content. This cycle repeats until Minimum Mass is reached, at which time, the pond that once was becomes only a memory. Welcome to the digital pans. 

Almost no cover-everything sites that used to work well 15 years ago are still hanging around. Like the magazine remnants, the problem was one of declining revenues, which produced declining content, which produced declining revenues, ad infinitum. While IR claimed to have an ad sales team, I mostly found Google Ads being served. I won’t get into all the reasons why that’s an issue, but once you put your primary revenue steam into the hands of an automated third party who’ll sell to the high bidder regardless of price (and takes a big cut of that when they do), you’re in a declining returns spiral.

Petapixel would like to step into the void, I suppose, but I don’t find it particularly well focused (pun very much intended). It also de-emphases gear quite a bit, which was what everyone was mostly doing the opposite of at dpreview. Multiple decades of high fidelity, computer, auto magazines and now Motor Trend TV should tell you all you need to know: the thing that generates traffic, debate, future interest, and much more, is always the hardware. V6/V8, 24mp/45mp, pretty much any news or review turns into a loyalty/performance discussion. And let’s face it, that’s what men tend to do (yes, camera owners are predominantly male, and Web site followers in both autos and cameras are even more so). 

My quick assessment is that we no longer have a Watering Hole Supervisor who’s truly catering to the animals who stop by for a drink. There’s no customer-first thinking, only an intention to scoop up enough dollars to keep the servers running. 

Which brings me to bythom and my other sites. No, they’re not a daily watering hole. Some days we have water, some days the hole is dry, particularly when I’m off the water system for a month. I’d like to think of my water (content) as not sustenance, but for savoring. I publish at a frequency that discourages gluttony. But we also have droughts. 

There’s a void in the market right now, and that’s not good. As more and more of the Everything All The Time for Everyone sites disappear, this just makes it more difficult for everyone, including the camera makers. It’s too easy to put your cameras in the closet and forget about them until you absolutely need them, and then, given how good the current cameras are, you’re not really going to think about buying anything new. 

In moderation, gear sites with active forums are good for the ecosystem. Unfortunately, we’re well below that “in moderation” level. The camera ecosystem is going to be hurt by that.

Looking for gear-specific information? Check out our other Web sites:
DSLRS: dslrbodies.com | mirrorless: sansmirror.com | Z System: zsystemuser.com | film SLR: filmbodies.com

bythom.com: all text and original images © 2023 Thom Hogan
portions Copyright 1999-2022 Thom Hogan-- All Rights Reserved