View Camera Magazinegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread
For the last few years I've been purchasing View Camera Magazine. Well, much of the latest issue on digital equipment reads like a running non-stop advertisement. The articles seem aligned with the digital-equipment companies (one article is immediately followed by an full-page ad), without much evidence of independent judgement. I know that at least one of the people involved in the magazine is a "test sight" for Epson printers, and I cannot help thinking that others are also receiving free equipment in exchange for their endorsements. There is no declaimer in the magazine that I can find. I, of course, may be absolutely wrong in my suspicions, but the line between article and advertisement seems very much blurred in this issue. I appreciate this periodical. I'd like to see it continue to be published, but I am wondering if others also feel that the publisher needs to be told in public that the magazine would serve photographers better as an honest forum, with criticism as well as praise, with well-reasoned doubts as well as hopes, as new technologies enter into the field.
-- Michael Alpert (email@example.com), November 20, 2001
Have always looked forward to View camera and Camera Arts mags, but their latest issues may be the end.Digital lobbyist have invaded their offices.They both have always had (mostly) true forms of photography but now its all so artificial.Have to start my own mag I suppose.Oh,Black and White mag is still about 95% non digital.
-- Ron Crowder (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 20, 2001.
I understand your concerns in your post. Even though the digital process won't affect my work for some time, I appreciated the real- life product names and their opinions on how they were used. The large format digital marketplace isn't exactly the easiest place to find out about all of the available tools and toys, due to a small group of people who can afford them.
Although I look forward to more and more articles on silver-based printing processes, this issue was a welcomed 'new look' at the state of digital for large format. Could there be a more independent view? I suppose so. However, I seriously doubt Steve Simmons would accept any products for article space.
-- Andy Biggs (email@example.com), November 20, 2001.
Ignoring for a moment whether there is quid pro quo affecting articles and ads in View Camera, I think the most disturbing thing I saw in the issue was the article on "View Cameras in a Digital World". The images used in the article are fine when viewed from a distance of 3 or 4 feet, but if you look at them from a normal reading distance, all but one are unacceptably unsharp. I'm talking about resolution, not focus. Five years ago this would have been fine, but when you are using a Sinar camera for product photography, and proclaiming ours to be a "digital world", I expect the final image to rival film, and this doesn't come close. The article is not of great length, it does point out some of the limitations of the digital medium, and it underscored the ease of use of the images after they are made as a big plus. However, as an "advertisement" that might attract film users to ditch their film and go over the wall, it fails. This is where I find fault with the magazine: I would not expect them to devote space to less than the best examples of traditional film images, either from an artistic or technical standpoint, so this should apply to digital as well. I don't think that if they are going to feature digital I should have to back up a ways to make it look right.
-- Don Welch (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 20, 2001.
I belong to a Portland organization that hosted a View Camera Festival last year. It was a neat event, and we had some excellent photographers who presented. One of them was Charles Cramer, an LF photographer who scans 4x5 transparencies to a 250 megabyte file, manipulates them in Photoshop, and then prints them on a Laserlite (sic?) printer. As I understand it, the Laserlite exposes silver based papers that are developed in the characteristic fashion.
His images were stunning. The color was beautiful, with intense reds, oranges, etc., given the particular photograph being reproduced. They were also large, some of them measuring 20x24 and larger. (See www.anseladamsgallery.com.)
We also had a commercial photographer, Gregory Ross, who uses the same approach in his work, and they both agreed that they liked having the control that Photoshop provides, but that digital capture could not provide the "zing" which could be obtained from silver transparencies. The point being made is that "digital" can work well with traditional silver to perhaps provide more than either of these mediums is capable of providing alone.
When digital was first introduced, I was critical of Shutterbug for placing so much emphasis on this new form of photography. But as Monterey photographer Richard Newman points out, the photographer provides that insite into what makes a unique and interesting image. Thereafter, he/she should use those tools that best help him to realize that image in a photographic form.
-- neil poulsen (email@example.com), November 20, 2001.
There's a symbiotic relationship between sellers of photography equipment on the one hand and photography publications on the other. Anyone who stands to make money from sales of photography equipment loves digital because, unlike traditional equipment that was relatively inexpensive and lasted a lifetime, a lot of digital stuff is very expensive and becomes obsolete quickly. Historically sellers of photography equipment had a problem - the equipment was too good, it lasted too long. Digital has solved that problem. Instead of buying one or two cameras, one set of lenses, one enlarger, one set of enlarger lenses, etc. etc. in a lifetime, many digital consumers are in a state of almost constant discard of old equipment and purchase of new equipment. This new equipment has to be promoted and advertising is the principal way of promoting it. Magazines love that for obvious reasons and so magazines love digital. The better digital does, the better the magazines will do. Hence there is an inherent conflict of interest between a magazine's efforts, no matter how sincere, to be objective and its financial well being. This conflict of interest is exactly the same as the conflict of interest that exists when a life insurance salesman sells life insurance or a car salesman sells a car, it's just not quite so obvious. This isn't to suggest that there is a direct payoff in the sense of a publication saying "if you'll advertise here, we'll promote your equipment in our editorial content." I don't know whether that kind of thing goes on or not. I'm optimistic enough to think that it doesn't. However, even without this kind of direct payoff, a photography magazine still has a vested interest in promoting digital equipment.Of course this situation didn't begin when digital appeared on the scene, it existed with traditional photography equipment as well. But digital happens to be the current big new thing that needs promoting and it also has upped the stakes because the profits in promoting and selling digital stuff are so much greater than they ever were with traditional equipment.
-- Brian Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 21, 2001.
I recently visited View Camera's web site to see read their submission policies. Low and behold they do NOT except digital submissions in any form. You have to send duplicate trannies. Now this seems to me to be a contradiction in terms. They talk about how useful digital is, but refuse to view conventional portfolios in a digital format?? I wonder why this is.. afterall it is so much more convenient to burn a CD, and cheaper than having say a dozen dupes made.
-- nigelturnerphotography.com (email@example.com), November 21, 2001.
It may be more convenient to send a CD, but it is much easier to view prints or slides, and I can understand their wanting all submissions in the same format for their convenience (and since they are the publisher, they can put their own convenience first).
-- David Goldfarb (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 21, 2001.
The publishing industry is very conservative about what they will accept for submission, it seems. While they may be using computer publishing tools internally (ie. scanners, QuarkXPress), they do not accept digital source material.
This is mainly because they have built a "closed loop" system. They know that from their scanners through to their presses (or whatever output device), they have control over colorspace, resolution, etc.
This was essential when color management was a "black art". If you didn't build a closed loop, you could not maintain quality and work efficiently.
Nowadays, color management is far better (profiles in PS 6.0, ColorSync, etc.). However, a publisher with a proven, money making closed loop system doesn't want to invite potential hassles by accepting your profiled PS file. If you send them a trannie or a print, they can send you back a proof and say "this matches the trannie you sent". If they work from a PS file, what happens when you say "That proof doesn't match what I see on my monitor"? Do you ship your computer to them so they can see the evidence? (Of course, it could be possible to send a trannie or print, and the PS file.)
While it may seem ridiculous to "film out" your digital file for publication, the publishers are 1) covering their asses, 2) avoiding the potential labor and cost of profiling your file into their closed loop.
-- Michael Chmilar (email@example.com), November 21, 2001.
I to was disapionted with the recent seemingly all digital edition of View Camera. The point on the advertising is that those advertisers who can afford the space in major magazines are going digital, the emphasis in the growth of their business is in the highly competetive digital area, The traditional film is not the competetive playing field, How long has it been since you saw an ad from the film companies that said their film was lowere grain or had more shadow detail or was easier to develope in accordance with zone system discipline, or how their film reacted to pyro? So the world is changing, Maqybe I am not changing but the world is, The magazines need to attract he readers who buy the materials the companies sell, That is who there are so many digital photo magazines out there, I do npot see any magazines for the anacronistic(??) photographer. ther is a revolution in technique and the mixing of film and digital at the levels of image capture, image development and printing is being experimented upon. That is interesting and scary at the same time, The traditional film , paper and wet darkroom photographer is going to become marginalized, In fact that has happened in the commercial environment, No magazine is going to ignore this revolution and survive. I mayself am looking foward to winning a lotery so I can afford the state of the art digital capture equipment, or before that happens the hot stuff today will become obsolete to the commercial high output studio nad will be discounted off to me.
I do believe that there will be a demand for the very traditional chemical approach to photography and that is and will continue to be appreciated by a limited number of photographers and PATRONS of photography, but it will become marginalized as a fine art.
There are trends that black and white is strong and there are british publications and austrailian photo phublications dealing with just that in all formats, But the advertisers are different in mix than View Camera.
I do hope that View Camera has a strong and permanent policy that the chemistry based photography will be addressed and promoted.
-- Ed Burlew (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 21, 2001.
I don't think one special all-digital issue a sign that Steve Simmons is giving up on traditional and chemistry-based alternative processes. After all, there was recently an all-Polaroid issue, and there has always been a mix of traditional and digital processes in the magazine. If it's a magazine about large-format photography, LF includes a variety of processes, then the magazine ought to reflect those.
Meanwhile, _Photovision_, I believe, has stated a commitment to focus on non-digital processes.
-- David Goldfarb (email@example.com), November 21, 2001.
Mitch: "I can't help but thinking that others are also receiving free equipment in exchange for their endorsements." You clearly imply, with no disclosed factual basis, that equipment is exchanged for endorsements. I am sorry to hear that you "can't help but thinking" that someone else is on the take. Have you called up the magazine to ask if what you can't help but thinking is the case? Might this not be a nice idea before making the left handed accusation? You do follow the charge with a disclaimer -- sort of -- that you might be wrong, but I think getting some facts before stating that the publisher needs to be told not to do something (that you don't know it is doing) in public doesn't seem fair or appropriate.
-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), November 21, 2001.
The sad fact is that digital is increasingly where the money is in photography. And that goes tripple for so-called "high-end" digital, which is so expensive that even Linhoff, Sinar et al are positively cheap by comparison. As far as View Camera is concerned, "there's gold in them thar hills."
-- Arthur Gottschalk (Arthurwg@aol.com), November 21, 2001.
I thank everyone for their responses. I was too accusatory in my original statement. My concern is not that View Camera is publishing articles on digital technology, but that the articles in the current issue do not seem to give a balanced view. I work in publishing; and at work I usually have my nose in a computer, using Photoshop or one of various publishing programs. I know that sometimes in very specific ways everything does not go smoothly when one uses complex tools. And I find that often it is nearly impossible to uncover truly unbiased and well-researched information on equipment in the digital world. View Camera Magazine is fine and worthwhile, but in the current issue it fails to provide the kind of substantial, balanced information that would benefit many photographers. My original question was meant to encourage the publisher of View Camera Magazine to strengthen the editorial policies of his periodical. I suppose I could have simply written to the publisher, but this forum seems to me to be a better place for a discussion in that it involves other contributors who also care about large format photography.
-- Michael Alpert (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 22, 2001.
I too subscribe/read View Camera Magazine and this current issue is largely devoted to digital. The publisherís note clearly states that at the risk of putting off some readers, this was done purposely to report on the industry. I canít say that I made the connection between the articles and the advertisements, but thatís because I have no intention of buying those products, so in effect havenít read the advertisements and donít care.
After reading the article on Sinarís digital back, I canít help but think, who is their target audience? At USD $31,500 for a digital back, $9,995 for a Macro Scan Adapter and $1795 for a PrePress CeMagYK module, who (both View Camera & Sinar) do they figure will be buying this stuff? Perhaps thatís the reason the advertís follow the articles and the reviewers get free equipment. Very few people can afford this stuff! Any readers of this forum plan on dropping $31,500 for a digital back?
Thereís no question digital is here to stay. It definitely has a place, but this falls into the category of ďone size fits all.Ē In reality, one size rarely fits all, nor does digital fit all situations. When PCís came out in the late 70ís/early 80ís, everyone touted the paperless society. In reality, paper consumption has probably doubled (I havenít researched the statistics on paper consumption, so this is merely my personal observation.) I believe film will be around for at least the next several decades and probably beyond, however things will change. Products will be dropped and perhaps even a few added. I like the medium and will stay with it until something significantly better comes along. Significantly better IMHO means not only quality, but cost as well. Iím prepared to coat glass plates if I have to.
-- Pete Caluori (email@example.com), November 23, 2001.
"After reading the article on Sinarís digital back, I canít help but think, who is their target audience? At USD $31,500 for a digital back, $9,995 for a Macro Scan Adapter and $1795 for a PrePress CeMagYK module, who (both View Camera & Sinar) do they figure will be buying this stuff? Perhaps thatís the reason the advertís follow the articles and the reviewers get free equipment. Very few people can afford this stuff! Any readers of this forum plan on dropping $31,500 for a digital back?"
Pros shooting corporate/commercial
-- tim atherton (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 23, 2001.
I would like a chance to respond to some of the comments made here about View Camera magazine.
Any suggestion that I took equipment in return for providing space for the articles on digital capture is absurd. It would be nice if the writer had the ****** to call and ask before making such a comment but all too often in these forums 'experts' come on and make comments/charges that have no basis in truth. These forums would be a friendly and more worthwhile place if people did their homeowrk before spouting off.
The Nov/Dec issue was not all digital. For example, there were articles on the following - a listing of all of the sheet films and their sizes that are standard stock items - a discussion of the currently available film holder styles and a very consumer orinted comment that the Polaroid holder may be the universal holder fore the pre-loaded films which could svae people the expense of buying a Polaroid holder and an addtiional Kodak and Fuji holder as well - a discussion of the use of filters with black and white films including a failed example of one of my efforts and a discussion of what I should have done. How many photo writers/publishers would do this type of article? - an article on Fuji lenses and what to look for on the used market. How many other publications run article like this? - an article on a very large and unusual film based camera - an article on a photographer using film to photograph sacred sites - an article, actually part of a series, on how to use the Sekonic L- 608 meter. I have had countless students in my workshops show up with these meters not knowing how to use them.
My publisher's statement at the beginning of the issue explained exactly what I was doing. Digital capture is her to stay and we selected three photographers using different systems to tell us how they integrated the equipment into their work.
If you count the number of film based versus digital capture articles you would see where the balance really is.
We do not review work on a CD becasue that means looking at images one at a time on a computer screen. This is painfully slow. We prefer being able to lay several images out at once on a table or light table to get a better overall view of the photographer's work. Once a photographer is selected for publication we do accept digital submissions along with a press quality proof as a check as long as we feel the photographer either has had professional scans done or is capable of doing good scans themselves. We make this decision on an individual basis. If you want to sent a digital something as a submission make them digital printouts so we can lay them on a table.
Thanks for the comparison between used car salesman and magazine publishers. You have used every forum I can find to disparage my efforts and informaion. This problem began 3 years ago when you took a workshop and were unhappy with it. You were a beginner with 4 months of experience and you fancied yourself as an expert and resented being in a group of beginners. I did make an effort to spend individual time with you during the class and you resisted everything I suggested. You complained about the lack of black nd white darkroom facilities when no such thing was ever promised. We did talk extensively about black and white films, exposure and development considerations, filters, etc. We had Polaroid material available for testing and using to understand these black and white issues. I do not remember you taking advantage of this opportunity. I have also seen you give incomplete information about bellows length and the use of telephoto lenses on another forum and then challenge me when I come on and provide additional information to fill the holes in your explanations.
If you are going to come on these forums I think you owe the readers a complete explanation on the topic and not just one that supports how you do things (which would not work for everyone as you make several compromises that you do not explain) and an explanation acknowledging that you have an ax to grind with me and therefore may not be completly without a personal agenda.
Am I beyond constructive criticism. Absolutley not. I would appreciate hearing directly from my readers about every issue. I put myself out there 12 times a year. I simply will ask the following - please give a balanced view of each issue. Yes we do digital but to call the Nov/Dec issue as all digital or View Camera has gone digital is not a fair or accurate comment. - if there are articles about particular types of equipment, photographers whose work should be featured, etc. please feel free to contact me directly. The risk of posting comments on a forum such as this is that I may never see it (I was referred to this site this morning as part of another conversation) and your comments may be wasted in terms of having any infuence on the magazine.
Steve Simmons email@example.com
-- steve simmons (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 26, 2001.
Ok, this really chaps my hide and I would like to answer Simmons critizism of this forum. I, like many others have had heated discussions and arguments with other participants in this forum, but in the end all has been worthwhile and informative, this is the first time I see Simmons contributing. So in that spirit I would like to examine his response.
"Any suggestion that I took equipment in return for providing space for the articles on digital capture is absurd. It would be nice if the writer had the ****** to call and ask before making such a comment but all too often in these forums 'experts' come on and make comments/charges that have no basis in truth. These forums would be a friendly and more worthwhile place if people did their homeowrk before spouting off."
I think the person who posted this was "speculating" wheter this happened. I beleive we are all intelligent enough to know fact from fiction and/or a purely speculative statement. On the other hand there ARE many experts in this forum, for example I had a disagreement with Kerry Thalman about camera prices, nevertheless I consider him a very knowledgeable person who has always provided very well researched, thoughtful responses. I have found most if not all of the participants in this forum do attempt to provide factual accurate information, and if any of us make a mistake or mistatement there are inmediately many responses to point the mistake out.As opposed to a magazine that might print a retraction 2 months later. So to the last sentence I respond, yes we do provide factual information, and this forum IS a friendly place.
" a discussion of the currently available film holder styles and a very consumer orinted comment that the Polaroid holder may be the universal holder fore the pre-loaded films which could svae people the expense of buying a Polaroid holder and an addtiional Kodak and Fuji holder as well - a discussion of the use of filters with black and white films including a failed example of one of my efforts and a discussion of what I should have done. How many photo writers/publishers would do this type of article? - an article on Fuji lenses and what to look for on the used market. How many other publications run article like this? - an article on a very large and unusual film based camera - an article on a photographer using film to photograph sacred sites - an article, actually part of a series, on how to use the Sekonic L- 608 meter. I have had countless students in my workshops show up with these meters not knowing how to use them. "
I have seen countless articles on B&W filters on Shutterbug, Photo Techniques, Photographic, etc. Photo techniques does an annual report on film AND paper available in the US market. Now since View Camera does not accept international subscriptions and I cannot get it in Mexico I did not get the opportunity to see if this article included every film under the sun, but I for one am not interested to know about a film in Kuala Lumpur that I am going to have to wait 6 months to get an use. So I am not impressed by this, and it has been done before. Now my favorite, the Sekonic L-608 meter, here I will also comment on the response to Brian from Simmons. If I went to a LF workshop and I have to spend an afternoon learning how to use a meter because the rest of the morons did not bother to READ the manual, I would be testy too! In my experience I bought a Sekonic L-508 when it first came out, I went and saw it at a store and from the beguining it was a really simple, intuitive meter to use. Although I am experienced and have used many kinds of meters, I still went home and READ the manual. So really, an article on how to use a meter?? I find this laughable. As to Brian, I beleive he was stating an opinion, he did not disparage the magazine, nor have I seen him ever making a negative comment about View Camera, methinks it is Simmons who has an ax to grind. As to the articles on the POlaroid holder, the holders, Fuji lenses. Well I thought this was the business of the magazine? If I went and told my boss, how many people do water analysis, emergency setups, etc, for you? he would probably say, that is your job and what I pay you for! As a previous purchaser of this magazine I say, that is your job and what I buy the magazine for!
"I put myself out there 12 times a year. I simply will ask the following - please give a balanced view of each issue."
I beleive tha magazine comes out 6 times a year......
"The risk of posting comments on a forum such as this is that I may never see it (I was referred to this site this morning as part of another conversation) and your comments may be wasted in terms of having any infuence on the magazine. "
I feel we post our comments in this forum to expand our views and discuss our opinions, I really don't think we want to "influence" the editorial content of any magazine. Besides I feel we are prefectly free to discuss any and all subjects in LF photography wether Simmons likes it or not. I personally have no desire to influence the magazine and all I ask from Simmons is that he refrains from demmanding that we make comments here about his magazine because he does not like it, TOUGH BUBBA!!!
As I said before I recently relocated to MExico and I am unable to get View Camera, so I had refrained from commenting since I had not seen the article nor will I see any in the future, but I deeply resent this person who has never contribuited to this forum to come and disparage the contribuition of all the people who take the time, effort and genuine desire to help and exchange ideas just because he did not like what was said.
Mr. Simmons, the same freedom that allows you to print your magazine is the one we are using to post our comments, ideas and opinions, so you bettr get used to it!
-- Jorge Gasteazoro (email@example.com), November 26, 2001.
Let me give you some facts.
We do take subscriptions from Mexico.
Mr. Ellis was not upset about the workshop becasue people wanted to know how to use their Sekonic L-608 meter. This is not what I said so please re-read my comments.
I objected to the comments that the entire issue was digital . It was not and I wanted to point out that fact. The bulk of the magazine was devoted to non-digital photography.
Speculation about people taking some form of payoff is malicious (SP?) and without any foundation is not fair. I have also been accused of taking a bribe when I did another article earlier this year. I am all for free speech. I simply ask that people check their facts before putting out any conspiracy theories.
Yes, it is my job to provide information about lf photography to my readers. The films we listed were all standard stock items for any retailer carrying Kodak, Ilford, Fuji, or Bergger film. There were two exceptions to this and we pointed them out in the article. We did not list an obscure film from Kuala Lampur!!!!.
Once again I am interested in a well thought dialogue about the contents of View Camera magazine. I just dislike inaccurate comments and I take issue with people who make them.
-- steve simmons (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 26, 2001.
I asked the original question, so I feel that I should respond. Heat is not needed here, only light. I feel that View Camera Magazine's current articles on digital technology do not give a balanced view, which would necessarily include an account of the limitations and pitfalls of these gismos, as well as the joys of using them. I never suggested that Steve Simmons received any equipment from manufacturers (an associate of the magazine is a "test site" for Epson, but he wrote nothing in the current issue). I wondered (perhaps too openly) why the writers of the articles would do what they did. I am not saying that these writers are dishonest, but their articles are incomplete and misleading. I simply cannot understand why a worthwhile periodical like View Camera would allow articles that do not present a more comprehensive view. Whenever film-based products come on the market, they are treated with scrutiny and suspicion until proven to be fine. There is no reason for anyone to be angry. Given the heat of his response, I am not about to call Steve Simmons. (I now believe that a phone-call with these same concerns would have led to an extremely short conversation.) As I have already stated, I feel that my original question was too accusatory, and I am doing my best not to make the same mistake again. The basic idea of this forum is community, and I see View Camera Magazine as an important part of this community. I assumed (I guess, wrongly) that the publisher of View Camera Magazine would be a reader of this Large Format Photography forum. So I assumed (as it turns out, rightly) that I was in fact contacting Mr. Simmons about his current issue within a community-based context. In the end I hope Mr. Simmons sees this somewhat awkward process as useful.
-- Michael Alpert (email@example.com edu), November 26, 2001.
There is no real objectivity in any magazine that accepts advertising from vendors whose products they discuss in articles. This applies to the subject matter of the article, as well as the content of the article. This is a simple fact of life, and is in no way limited to photography magazines. On the other hand, if Consumers Reports started evaluating Large Format equipment and technologies, I don't think we would be any better off.
-- Michael Feldman (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 26, 2001.
How about Digital backs for LF, would we be better off? I am curious to know if the backs are all that!! It would be an interesting thing having CR report on LF digital backs...then we would really get an uniased opinion.
-- Jorge Gasteazoro (email@example.com), November 26, 2001.
My experience with Consumers Reports is that they try to create "objective scientific" tests to do evaluations, even when no objective test actually exists. For example, when they evaluate stereo speakers, they run tests on frequency response and translate that into a numerical score, and then "rank order" the speakers accordingly. The evaluations are not based on how the speakers sound to a personís ear, or even based on other objective criteria such as distortion measurements. Even the methodology for assigning a single numerical score to a 3 dimensional frequency response graph (axis position, decibels, and frequency) is highly subjective.
I think a website like http://www.steves-digicams.com/ does fairly objective reviews in the digital arena because their primary advertising sponsor is a retailer that sells multiple brands of equipment.
-- Michael Feldman (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 27, 2001.
Thanks Michael. I might just check the site you mention.
-- Jorge Gasteazoro (email@example.com), November 27, 2001.
Michael Feldman and Jorge Gasteazoro, thank you for your responses. I think the problem here is not about objectivity; the problem is about the lack of any balanced accounting of experience. When I read the articles in question, I did not find this kind of accounting, where the process of setting up and using this complex equipment was described fully. Nor were the limitations of the equipment described in any meaningful (i.e., specific) sense. (For instance, one article mentioned an upgrade. Based on actual user experience, how often do these things need to be upgraded, and will the present backs be useful a few years from now? What are the consequences of upgrading the backs? Recent "upgrades" in computer software and hardware have not brought happiness to everyone. How many computers and printers that are less than six years old are now hard to use when you want to upgrade almost anything anywhere in your system? But this is just one area that needs to be articulated. The articles should have looked at a range of limitations, as well as capabilities, in order to be accurate and fair.) I have no objection to photographers liking digital backs; these back have obvious virtues. It's the superficial and misleading content of the articles that drove me to ask my initial question.
-- Michael Alpert (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 27, 2001.
My concern/ complaint with the current surge of digital things is that unlike any time in the past, we the consumers are the test bed that is finding the "bugs" and causing the next/ better generation (usually about 3 months) to come and take the previous ones place making the one we paid way too much for already obsolete.
The only way a magazine could be objective would be to talk to a group of consumers that had been struggling with the newest/ greatest and find out what the truth really is. Unfortunately with press times etc. by the time something had been in consumer hands and an actual objective report calculated, the "thing" would have been replaced by the next whhiz banggy better one. Magazines don't have much else to go on than manufacturers claims.........a really scary thought.
That is why real time forums like this and others are in fact so useful. A discussion about an Epson 2450 is boring as all get out until I notice Costco has them for $229 or whatever, and then the information from real time users is solid gold.
-- Jim Galli (email@example.com), November 27, 2001.
Jorge G. and Ellis V., since you cannot seem to stay on topic, please do not continue to add personal insults to this forum. With all this verbal nonsense, I think the train of thought has been lost. Although my initial comments were certainly combative, I expected that they would lead to a constructive dialogue that would help View Camera Magazine to clean up its act. It is a good magazine, but I think it would be better if it had a stronger editor. That's the way it is in publishing. Still, I know it is tough to keep a specialized periodical afloat. Best wishes to Steve Simmons. Please, let's end this thread here without any further contributions.
-- Michael Alpert (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 28, 2001.
but I think it would be better if it had a stronger editor>>>>
Can you be more specific and constructive?
-- steve simmons (email@example.com), November 28, 2001.
I feel that you could have asked for a more complete account from the authors. They must have gone through a learning curve when using this complex equipment that included bumping up against some limitations, finding added expenses, or being forced to make choices that were not obvious or comfortable. That's what seems to always happen with computer stuff, especially when people are new to the equipment. The published articles gave no sense of the actual experience, but read more like company propaganda. Perhaps you tried to coax more out of the writers, but they just couldn't or wouldn't come through. In any case, I think a more stringent published examination of the equipemnt in question would be helpful. Steve, I know I have been severe in my questioning. I value your magazine, and I wish you well.
-- Michael Alpert (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 28, 2001.
It's nice to see how digital is advancing, and it's obvious that silver-based photography is in retreat for commercial/industrial applications. I'm a cinematographer, and video has eaten my lunch too.
In my opinion, these days, if you're setting up a view camera, you're not doing it to make money. It's an avocation, maybe a passion. I shoot tape as well as film to make a living, and budget constaints force us to shoot more tape, less film. Not just tape, but DV instead of Betacam, then not just DV but miniDV!
I just finished a job shot with a handicam miniDV and a fine time and much money was had by all. My response to this experience was to rush out and get a 7x17 camera... 5x7 wasn't big enough! Call me a Luddite, I guess.
As a publisher Steve Simmons has a business to run. But if it develops that digital is where View Camera is going, hopefully classic large-format will find another magazine venue. Maybe seven bucks an issue won't be enough...
-- Skip Roessel (email@example.com), November 28, 2001.
I don't understand your statement that you "think the problem here is not about objectivity; the problem is about the lack of any balanced accounting of experience."
Then later you say, "The published articles gave no sense of the actual experience, but read more like company propaganda."
Both of your statements seem to underscore the exact "lack of objectivity" that I was referring to. When a magazine publishes an article, they are primarily concerned about two things: 1. Will it increase readership (subscription and/or newsstand), and 2. Will it increase advertising revenue.
It is usually the case in magazines (I don't mean to single out "View Camera"), that as soon as an article is commissioned for future inclusion in an issue, the advertising sales department immediately contacts vendors associated with the subject of that article to encourage them to advertise. In the case of digital technology, there are lots of advertising dollars out there, and it would counterproductive for a magazine article about digital photography to overly criticize the digital industry that they are trying to coax new and lucrative advertiser dollars from.
I just looked at the July/August issue of ďView CameraĒ and noticed that neither Kodak nor Ilford bought any advertisements in that issue (which contained an article about digital printing). One company selling digital backs bought a full-page color ad inside the front cover. And of course, the company who produces the digital printing technology discussed in the article also bought an ad. Magazine publishers donít bite the hand that feeds them. And these days, there is not much "food" going around.
-- Michael Feldman (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 28, 2001.
Lets look at a few facts.
Neither Kodak or Ilford bought an ad in the Nov/Dec 2001 issue. Yet, there are two pages devoted to listing all of the sheet films that are standard stock items so my readers will know that film is still available.
I frequently show samples of my work. I have never done a digital capture in my life. I have shown work from 4x5, 8x10, and recently 5x7.
In the Sept/Oct issue there was a lot of info about using Polaroid films and holders. Show me the Polaroid ad.
In the Sept/Oct issue there was an article called Seeing in Silver by Gordon Hutchings. Which film and paper company placed an ad in that issue other than a small Bergger ad
It is easy to be an armchair critic and select small pieces of the magazine to justify your theories. It is more balanced and accurate to look at the entire issue, and the history of the magazine over the last 13 years to see what we have done. Are we doing more digital now than in 1989. Yes of course. There is more digital now than in 1989. Have we stopped doing silver based film. If you look at the magazine as a whole you will see that the answer is no.
-- steve simmons (email@example.com), November 29, 2001.
I think you are being a little bit defensive, nobody here is saying your magazine is not good, or that it is not involved any longer with the issues that interest LF photographers/readers. I think the biggest surprised people had, was the inclusion of so much digital coverage in the last issues, specially since we NEVER see pt/pd printing articles in a digital photography magazine. I think what has not been expressed is that there is a plethora of magazines now a days extholing the virtues and wonderfulness of digital that people really wonder "Do we need another article on digital backs in one of the few magazines left for "traditional" photographers?"
Is digital here to stay, as you said? you bet!! is digital in LF common place and something I would be able to easily pick? At $35,000 a pop I seriuosly doubt it! So I think all of us wondered why so much interest in your magazine about these back, if not due to advertising and/or benefits to the magazine from digital back producers? And if so, we were also wondering if View Camera was "going digital" because of the advertising dollars. Lets be honest, did your articles cover these backs better than any of the many digital phtography magazines? I don't know and people in this forum who read the article can better answer this, but I don't think they did, and I believe that is the root of Michael's disappointment with this issue, too much praise and gushing about this backs and how wonderful they are, without any mention of the problems associated with them. OTH was this an article about the backs? or about the work these photographers are doing, regardless of back? ONCE THIS QUESTION IS ANSWERED (caps for emphasis, not yelling) I think all this disucussion will go away.
So, bottom line, relax! I know this magazine is your child, but nobody here has said, "that's it I am not reading View Camera anymore because it has gone digital!" I think all will agree your magazine is a considered to be a valuable asset to the LF community and it is precisely because most feel this way that they were surpised to see such an emphasis in Digital backs and digital work.
You have more than adequately responded, it is obvious View Camera magazine is not going "completely" digital any time soon. I am sure eveybody here is glad to know this. Was it a mistake to include so much digital in the last issue? who knows? I certainly don't know and I am sure with your reader mail you will be able to judge this better than us, so if it was a mistake then let us know in the future, if it was not, let us know too...I think right now everybody is arguing a moot point since...
1.- you vehemently have talked about the "other" articles
2.- there are only at max what? 20 guys who have participated in this discussion, once you get a better "feel" as to the response to these articles let us know, right now I think you are wasting your time. On the other hand if you come back and say "people I had 2000 letters telling me they loved the LF digital backs issue" then I guess you would have shut everybody's mouth here...no?
I really think that what you are trying to say is that as Editor you chose these articles for variety and interest, and everybody else is so worried their last magazine will go digital that they made a mountain out of a molehill.
I also think that people see some disturbing trends in your magazine and that is why they are worried, for example, the inclusion of John Paul Caponigro as one of your contribuiting writers, who is definetly digital biased, if I had a choice I would rather read what his father has to say, but then what do I know?
ok, enough from me....good luck to you and continued success...
-- Jorge Gasteazoro (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 29, 2001.
I think all who have participated in this thread have had ample opportunity to expess their thoughts. My original question was very narrowly focused on a few articles, not on the merit of View Camera Magazine as a whole, or on the worth of digital backs. I admit it took a few attempts before my thoughts (and those of other contributors) were properly articulated. I am sorry that the publisher of View Camera does not see that the criticism is not coming from an self-appointed "expert" or "critic"--armchair or otherwise--but from a reader who desires more complete information. We are in danger now of repeating ourselves over and over, so I am going to end my participlation in this thread. I do not feel that the discussion was helpful to anyone, so I apologize to all for asking the initial question.
-- Michael Alpert (email@example.com), November 30, 2001.
I look foreward to every issue of View Camera becasue it is a tremendous resource for people like me. To produce really good LF photographs is a challenge, from both an artistic as well as a technical stand. As a hobbyist who doesn't have a lot of money to spend on equiptment[most of my gear is older than I am]I find that the article View Camera runs on photographers who produce really fine portfolios with very basic equiptment inspiring. It is very rare that any other photography magazine will print such articles. I found Gordon Hutchings recent articles on Weston light meters and repairing wooden DCFH's especially valuable. While a digital back for my Deardorff is not on my Christmas list, I find that I learn something from those articles too. I won't be shooting food or vodka bottles or sex goddesses for a Madison Avenue agency anytime soon, but I do know that cutting edge technology won't help me become a better photographer. More time in the field and the darkroom will. As for the innuendo that View Camera has become a digital only magazine,and has been bought off by big business, I think my little article on repairing Elwoods in the July/August issue proves that just isn't so. Elwood has been out of business for about fifty years! Keep up the good work Mr. Simmons!
-- John Kasaian (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 2001.