A regularly updated listing of useful sites over the Internet
Canon Price Watch is the place to go if you are in the market for Canon cameras or Canon mount lenses.
In 2013 they changed the site to add a blog as their landing page. It’s handy, because it lists the latest bargains, but the real value of the site comes in its extensive database of virtually every piece of equipment made for or by Canon.
You can instantly compare prices from major on-line retailers and see what the going rate is for almost any lens or camera body.
I’m sort of addicted to this site. Most people discover Canon Rumors looking for the latest rumors of product introductions. But, what keeps people coming back to the site is the forum discussion, where you can participate in, or simply observe, often bitter quarrels over esoteric points, such as the dynamic range of different brands of camera sensors, the relative merits of full-frame versus crop-sensor cameras, small differences in lens quality and a host of other topics that matter little to anyone outside the forum participants. Still, it can be entertaining and addicting.
The actual rumors tend to be hit and miss. The site is seldom the first to break a story. But, when it comes to major releases of new cameras, the site is often spot-on – just be sure to pay close attention to his rating system (which ranks rumors from CR0 for little to no credibility, to CR3 for rumors you can take to the bank).
This site offers thorough reviews of most major new product releases. Given the pace and volume of new products, there is no guarantee that you’ll find a complete review of the item you’re looking for, but they do have a fairly extensive database of products and most major new releases get at least a “preview” that is often quite thorough.
A good place to start if you’re interested in fair deep overviews of products from the major manufacturers.
Roger Cicala runs the Tennessee-based LensRentals.com which I can’t say enough good things about. I’ve rented lenses from them and the equipment always arrives on time and in great shape. It’s a terrific way to try out equipment before buying or to rent that unusual lens that you will never be able to afford to buy and never have enough use for to justify the cost.
But, the real reason it’s listed here is because of Roger’s reviews and blog postings. Each lens description contains a “Roger’s Take” that gives you a candid, non-technical assessment of the lens. Even if you never rent anything, it’s worth going through their descriptions to get a practical idea about any particular lens.
To make it even better, Roger supplements his lens descriptions with regular blog postings that cut through the b.s. floating around the internet. This guy knows equipment inside and out, but more importantly, he keeps things grounded with some real world perspective.
Sister site to Canon Price Watch, it lacks the blog landing page and instead uses the price data base as its home page. If you’re looking for Nikon equipment, this is the place to start.
Like Canon Rumors, Nikon Rumors and its sister site Photo Rumors focus on providing the latest news and rumors about new product introductions. (Oh, and he also runs a site called Leica Rumors, but frankly so little ever happens in the world of Leica that the site owner is hard-pressed to come up with content.)
Photo Rumors often scoops Canon Rumors with new product announcements. But, it lacks the robust forum content of Canon Rumors.
If you want to keep track of the latest product developments across all brands, Photo Rumors is a good site to check.
Thom Hogan has a number of sites, apparently designed to promote the sales of his workshops, series of books on various Nikon cameras and Thom Hogan. But, that is selling him a bit short. Unlike so many internet blogs, Hogan actually places content ahead of shameless self-promotion.
He is an avid naturalist and former executive editor of “Backpacker” magazine so his interests and writing is understandably focused on nature photography.
There are several things that make Hogan’s sites worth a read. First of all, he’s prolific so the content gets updated pretty regularly. While he uses Nikon equipment and writes frequently about Nikon, the articles are generally of interest to anyone who enjoys reading about trends in the world of camera manufacturers and what we may see happening in the coming years.
The weird thing though is that his multiple sites seem to be put together without much coordination. In fact, if one stumbles on one of his sites, you might not realize he has more. At last count he was running at least four separate sites: dslrbodies, sansmirror, gearophile and filmbodies. Of the various sites, the ByThom DSLR Bodies site is probably the most useful.
Ken Rockwell is something of the Rodney Dangerfield of photography bloggers – he gets no respect. Perhaps it’s his, shall we say, less than disciplined approach to technical subjects, or maybe it’s because he has one of the ugliest web pages on the internet (which is no small feat).
Still, he’s entertaining and his commonsense, keep-it-simple-stupid approach is very welcome at times. Plus, his blatant self-promoting and begging for contributions is actually kind of refreshing is a weird sort of way.
History, Criticism and Trends
I’ve never actually counted, but I’d wager a bet that out of all the books on photography that I own, more are published by Aperture than any other publisher.
Aperture magazine began publishing in 1952 with Minor White as its editor. The magazine has played a major role in setting the standards for what constitutes fine art photography ever since. Whether that’s always been a good thing or not may be subject to some debate (Just as one could debate whether Alfred Stieglitz, the f64 school, the Museum of Modern Art, Beaumont Newhall and others have had too much influence on what is considered “art” in photography).
Regardless of all that, there is no denying the influence of the Aperture Foundation and the fact that overall, they have worked tirelessly to make photography an accepted medium for visual arts.
If you want to know what is happening in the contemporary world of photography in general and art photography in particular, spend some time with the Aperture Foundation.
There aren’t many good resources devoted to the history of photography, which is why I was excited when I found this series of podcasts and course materials prepared by Jeff Curto of the College of DuPage.
I believe everyone should take some time to learn a bit about the history of photography and great photographers. There would be worse places to start than this.
Masters of Photography
You can Google this site if you want. It’s has a very good series of brief sketches of great photographers, including samples of their work. Unfortunately, it’s infested with annoying pop ups and ad content that negates much of the value of the site. I’m suspicious of some of the content, so I’m not going to play their game by providing a link.
I’ve only recently discovered this site, but it looks promising. They have an interesting feature called “This Week in Photography.” However, I’m not sure what calendar they use, since their “weeks” seem to run anywhere from 10 to 20 or more days.
Photoflex makes lighting equipment, mostly modifiers like soft boxes, umbrellas, lighting and backdrop stands, etc. They also write articles showing how their equipment can be used to produce a variety of lighting effects. Regardless of whether you use their equipment or not, the lessons are great.
David Hobby is something of a demi-god among small lighting enthusiasts. I’ve often said that the digital camera revolution, while nice, is really nothing in comparison to the technological revolution that has occurred in portable flash lighting (strobes to most of us).
This may be hard to grasp if you didn’t take photographs in the 1970s and 1980s, but believe me, one reason so many photographers learned to master “natural light” was because of the near total unpredictability and unreliability of portable camera flashes. They were, for the most part, pieces of crap that failed more frequently than they worked.
All that’s changed today and modern strobes from Nikon and Canon are incredibly easy to use and incredibly reliable. As such, there has been a huge growth in interest in how to best use these portable lights – especially because a small investment and little effort can produce amazingly professional results.
Joe McNally may be better known and it’s worth buying his book. But it is David Hobby who really owns the “do-it-yourself-portable-lighting-lessons-on-the-internet” genre.