I think exercising a bit of caution and common sense is the best advice to give. Remember that most if not all of these websites depend on sponsorship to survive. And who do you think sponsors them but camera manufacturers and retailers? The UK Practical Photography magazine has come under a lot of fire for never publishing an unfavourable review. Whether the criticism is justified or not I have no idea since I haven't read the magazine in ages.
My Opinion is that it is reliable. Along with dpreview.com, Steve's Digicams is the other most visited and trusted site on the internet : p. I prefer's Phil Askey's reviews on dpreview. But I just took a look at the list and it seems quite ok.
No, a user poll/review is unlikely to definitely be better, but it could be. The problem with user polls/reviews is two fold. The minor, is that of die hard fanatics twisting the poll as already brought up by YSLee. I consider that minor because I believe most of us are mature enough to not act in such an immature fashion. But secondly, and I feel more importantly, you get no indication as to the contributers, and nothing but a flat figure to gauge performance. One user could know nothing at all about equipment. Another may be a professional reviewer, and they will both be given the same weightage. Someone may have only used 2 cameras in his life, a crap one and an even more crap one. To him, the crap one will be good, and the even more crap one, bad. Furthermore, there is a big danger in my experience, particularly in Singapore, that people tend also to be technophiles before artists, in the photography arena. A lot of people will express the pluses and minus of a camera purely on something they have read somewhere.
Without meaning to be specific, and without meaning to imply anything to the individuals below, but look at some of the posts in this thread. On what basis has Jaskin decided that Steve's Digicams and DPReview are two of the most trusted site on the internet? How did Jaskin take a look at the list and see that it was okay? What is (s)he basing this on? Other reviews or real hands on experience?
As above, I don't wish to single anyone out. I have no personal acquaintance with Jaskin and it may well be that (s)he has had a good range of experience with a lot of the cameras listed at Steve's Digicams. And (s)he has clarified at the start that it was only an "opinion".
The same can also be said of Ninja's statement, where (s)he concurs with the website, which was "fair enough, apart from the 2-mega pixel category's selection." Again, the question I ask is how was this fairness determined, and how was the unfairness in the 2 mega-pixel category determined as well?
Again, no offence to Ninja, who again may well have abundent personal experience. But possibly Ninja and Jaskin aside, how many of us out there have used more than 1 or 2 cameras? You cannot count handling the camera in the shop for a few minutes because there is no meaningful way to draw a meaningful conclusion on a camera based on that. Let alone just reading spec sheets.
Sorry if I've sounded very negative or argumentative, but this was one of the big lessons I learned along the way. When I first started out I used to base a lot of weightage on reviews wherever I could find them. Now I read them, but also evaluate them. Some people have their natural bias. Evaluate the source of the review, and find out if there might be reasons for it to be either intentionally biased, or accidentally biased.
Similarly it may well be that both the mentioned websites are pillars of objectivity in their reviews. In which case, good to them for the service they provide.
The thing with reviews is to take it with a pinch of salt.
If you take a movie review or cd review, yesh all the people in the world may love the music or film but if you think its crap, its crap. There is no reason to be ashame of it or having to change your opinion. Despite a frequent goer of film festivals, I am still a sucker for Rambo and Terminator "Kill em all and let Hell sort em out" shows.
IMHO, Two things are important
1)Knowing yourself, your goals and your needs.
Be it camera, book or music or anything for the matter. Once you asked and hopefully answered these questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge, things will be easier
Yesh everything change. You may start out with a high end camera and decide that you are more comfortable with a point and shoot dummy. No shame to admitting that... it is your money, your needs and your prerogative.
Reviews are just things you happy you in your path for self discovery and quick references allowing you to draw on the experience of others. But nothing beats walking the path yourself!
Originally posted by jaskin My Opinion is that it is reliable. Along with dpreview.com, Steve's Digicams is the other most visited and trusted site on the internet : p. I prefer's Phil Askey's reviews on dpreview. But I just took a look at the list and it seems quite ok.