Why Ken Rockwell is bad for photography

Why Ken Rockwell is bad for photography

The other day, I was perusing the web for reviews of the Sony a7R II to make sure I hadn’t missed anything before I bought it. I quickly stumbled upon Ken Rockwell’s review and said, what the heck, let’s have a look for once. And I was horrified.

Let’s back up a little: Ken Rockwell runs a website where he reviews most cameras and lenses that exist. He has very good SEO, so when you search for something, you’re pretty much bound to end up on his site. When I started out in photography, I did read articles on his website and followed some of his recommendations. I really wish I hadn’t.

Writing a rant like this is definitely not my usual style. I’ll try to keep as reasonable as possible! It is fairly long to read, so if you want the short version, go to the conclusion at the end of the article

So why is Ken Rockwell so bad for photography? It’s not a matter of what he thinks but how he presents it.

Rush Hour | DuSable Bridge - Chicago, IL

Rush Hour | DuSable Bridge – Chicago, IL

He sets a bad example

I got curious about him and went through his site and the About page. I’ve always assumed that he was either renting the gear or getting free test units from manufacturers, as some people do. But apparently no:

I don’t get free cameras as everyone presumes. I wish! I certainly never get paid for endorsements or to review anything.

I was astonished to see that he actually buys and returns all of his gear:

I’m a big returner. I’ll get all excited, buy something, write it up, and if it came from a store with a good return policy, usually I’ll realize a week later while the return period is still valid, that I’m never going to use it again. Back it goes, with their permission, of course.

So let me get this straight: he’s not paying a dime for the gear that is earning him a living, supporting his all family. Even if he’s doing this with big corporations, this is definitively not an ethical way to do business, when you can rent the gear for very affordable amounts. And it’s really bad if he’s doing it with local camera stores, as a recent Petapixel article points out.

A lot of new photographers read his website, and this is not a good example to set.

Presence | Downtown Manhattan - New York, NY

Presence | Downtown Manhattan – New York, NY

His reviews are not factual, but merely personal preferences

It’s hard to see how most of what he says is relevant. Here’s an example of what he says is missing on the a7RII:

11MP is the lowest resolution setting. I usually prefer to shoot at around 6 MP for my people pictures to allow me to process more of them faster. Even with all the junk in the menu system, it only has three resolution settings.

In 2015, being able to shoot at 6MP is not relevant for most people. Without getting into the Megapixels debate, no one buys a $3,000+ 42MP camera to shoot at 6MP.

He also puts out bold statements without any explanations or proof:

Lenses on adapters rarely work well.

If it’s true, then tell us what’s not working well, which adapters or lenses are not good. A short statement like this is an opinion, not a factual review.

To be fair, he presents a lot of facts in his reviews, but they are mostly about the camera’s specifications, which can be seen on the manufacturer’s website. His comments about the camera’s performance are not factual, and are opinions without reasoning behind them.

Going away | Grange Park - Toronto, ON

Going away | Grange Park – Toronto, ON

His opinions are very narrow-minded

He opens the a7R II review by the following statement:

The Sony A7R II is the world’s best camera for hobbyists, but DSLRs make better pictures faster for serious work.

Besides being a fairly negative opening statement, it also poses the question of what is a hobbyist? No worries, he follows with some explanations a few paragraphs down the road:

A photo hobbyist is someone who loves talking about pixels, software, apps, bit depths and especially loves playing with a zillion different brands of lenses on adapters. That’s why hobbyists and gizmo fans love this camera so much.

This sounds like an extremely small portion of the photography world. His definition is more akin to pixel-peepers, in which case this next statement is just outright false:

Most people are hobbyists and won’t notice the subtle things I do, […] but for serious work, the Sony isn’t there yet.

Saying most people are basically pixel-peepers and that a $3,000 camera is for hobbyists is not helping anyone, and is quite condescending. While he’s entitled to his opinions, in this case, they won’t help the reader assess the level of performance of the camera.

Then you get the occasional out-of-place comments that just make Ken Rockwell look bad and do not add to the review:

It feels like an old Russian camera in that everything is big and strong, but not that precise.

The A7R2 has a nice grip, but it’s too small for my American hands.

What does an old Russian camera look like and why do American have such big hands?!

No Need For Love | Yaletown - Vancouver, BC

No Need For Love | Yaletown – Vancouver, BC

Ken Rockwell lives in a different world than most of us do

Whether we like it or not, in 2015 cameras tend to have a lot of Megapixels and computers have the power to process them. It also has some applications (cropping, printing large). Apparently, Ken Rockwell only needs 6MP:

I usually prefer to shoot at around 6 MP for my people pictures to allow me to process more of them faster.

While it does not matter if you shoot at 6MP, pixel count does matter for most people:

Pixel count doesn’t matter and no one really needs ISO 102,400.

While most people do not need ISO 102,400, it usually indicates that the ISO performance of the camera is high. No camera has great ISO performance at its maximum value, but the higher the maximum value, the higher you can go without losing too much detail.

He’s also clearly misleading viewers about full-frame vs APS-C:

The real difference between the A7R II and the Sony A6000 that costs only a fraction as much comes down to controls, convenience and internal firmware options, not picture quality.

Again, no facts here. Anyone with a basic understanding of sensors can explain the benefits of having a bigger sensor. He does point out the depth of field difference but keeps saying there is no difference in image quality:

The only real difference between APS-C and full-frame cameras is that full-frame lenses are much bigger and heavier, and that APS-C has more depth of field and full-frame has less. That’s what really matters; the pictures and overall operations outside of the extra A7R II features are the same.

The lady | Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris - Paris, France

The lady | Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris – Paris, France

When he presents facts, they are often wrong or misleading

I have no problem with people using JPEG instead of RAW, as long as they know the difference. Ken is completely misleading readers, and his articles haven’t been updated in a long time.

First, he’s completely biased against RAW:

Raw is a waste of time and space, and doesn’t look any better than JPG even when you can open the files.

While, in some cases, RAW can be an issue for storage space, there is ample evidence of the quality difference, especially if you use post-processing software.

In Ken’s world, professional photographers don’t have time to use RAW:

Time is money to people who need to make money from photography. We simply don’t have the time to waste for all the files to download and then especially to wait while hundreds of raw files open up the hard way before we can see them, much less do anything with them.

How many professional photographers do you know that shoot JPEG-only? Now think about someone new to photography: upon reading this, why would you even consider RAW?

He also says that you cannot send RAW files to clients:

Because it’s not standardized, you can’t send these files to clients or anyone and expect them to open

Well, even if you shoot JPEG, would send the out-of-the-camera files, without resizing, sharpening, keywording, copyrighting? Once again, simply not representative of most professional photographers.

Again, the issue here is not whether RAW is better than JPEG. Ken Rockwell is just not presenting facts, but a version of them that suits its own opinion. By the way, here’s an excellent (though somewhat outdated) article about RAW vs JPEG by Petteri Sulonen, in which the author explores the benefits of each format and when it’s more suitable to use one or the other.

Vanishing City | Riverwalk - Chicago, IL

Vanishing City | Riverwalk – Chicago, IL

Why does it matter?

I could go through every single page of his website and try to debate everything he says, but you get the point: nothing presented on the website has any factual reasoning behind it.

You’re going to say: why getting all worked up if you’re not going to read his website anyway? Because when I first started out in photography, I read his articles and believed what he was saying for a while. Fortunately, I like experimenting and quickly found out that RAW was more suited to my needs. But others might not. New photographers might get the wrong information, buy the wrong gear because Ken Rockwell is misleading them.

He’s doing an enormous amount of work, and he should be commended for this. He does present his reviews as his opinions, but with such a large readership comes responsibility. He should be acknowledging that other points of view exist and that not presenting his opinions as facts.

If you’re a young or new photographer reading this, please read other websites like CameraLabs or DP Review. Most importantly, look at more than one source and do not take anything you read online for granted. Also remember: camera reviews always have a part of personal preference.


  • Jay English February 24, 2016 5:00 pm

    Thank you for your concise article. I’m glad I read it. I was actually considering donating to Ken Rockwell, which I will not do after reading your article.

    • Michael February 24, 2016 10:34 pm

      Glad I could help Jay! I just wanted people to have a second opinion 🙂

    • jan marik August 14, 2016 2:20 pm

      you can donate, at the website you can find a lot about photography, not just about hardware. that is why it is worth. you can read reviews and than compare with your experience and than you learn that even reviews are worth at least for me.

    • salimbag January 6, 2018 11:12 am

      Sorry Muraz, but you are shallower and even more opinionated that RK, with less substance.

      This is a hack job article, in that anyone can pull a couple dozen quotes from any large website that’s been operating for decades and find exception with them. I too find myself disagreeing with KR, but in my case I have legtimate disagreements with the substance of his articles, while Muraz’s complaints border on ad hoc attacks. And Muraz’s assertion that KR tends to promote unsubstantiated opinion is disingenous. Deeper on his site he has indepth tips and explanations for the technical claims he made, and they are very good.

      “Saying most people are basically pixel-peepers and that a $3,000 camera is for hobbyists is not helping anyone, and is quite condescending.” It’s not condescending. It’s smart.

      Are you really complaining because you want to parse the words “amateur” and “pixel peaker?”

      Are you really criticizing KR because he says a camera grip is too small for his hands?

      Sorry, shooting high resolution cameras at lower resolutions is a good idea when it’s appropriate. Are you really arguing with that statement?

      Also, his views evolve as the industry does. “The Sony A7R II is the world’s best camera for hobbyists, but DSLRs make better pictures faster for serious work.” OK, but when the A9 came out he did a complete about face. Nothing in this industry is fixed in time.

      Every single statement you make is embarrassingly easily deconstructed.

      I’m not writing this because I’m a big fan of Rockwell, I’m writing because I hate crappy journalism, and that’s what this article is.

  • Jay English February 24, 2016 11:11 pm

    From an intellectual viewpoint, Mr Rockwell is predominantly subjective, while you strive to be objective and not misleading…

    • Michael February 25, 2016 12:48 pm

      Thanks Jay!

  • David April 3, 2016 11:27 pm

    Thanks for this report, Michael.
    What comes across is the his greatest skill is probably writing. And I equally probably, the best feature of his photographs are the frames.

    Interestingly, the article that you refer to about his attitude towards returns, includes the following comment. Now I am not suggesting that this applies to Ken, but it does alert us to a potential problem for those who buy with the expectation of returning.

    “Editor’s update: A reader emailed in to point out that buying a product, using it, and returning it on purpose is illegal and a form of return fraud.”

    • Michael April 4, 2016 4:57 pm

      That’s very interesting David. It would seem that it is more than just an ethical problem then. I’ll definitely look into it.

  • Pavel Metelitsyn April 15, 2016 6:03 pm

    Not to offend anyone, including the author, but…

    Why not take Ken’s site for what it really is – a subjective(did he claim the opposite?), entertaining and informative (subject to the general fact that a priori one should doubt everything that one finds in the internet) blog about photography (one of the oldest so far I know)? The guy has a very special way to present his point of view but I don’t see the reason why anybody should take his words literally and get mad about it. He has used (held in his hands) more cameras and gear than the majority of the photographers. He remembers the days of analogue photography. He has something to compare to. His article about “6MP is enough” (entitled “The Megapixel Myth”) was written 2008 when 12 was a maximum for consumer cameras. What counts is the message i.e. that MP’s are not THE important thing. Still true today, despite manufacturers and dealers will typically claim the opposite (conflict of interest?). Also the whole “RAW vs. JPEG” and “adapters suck” issues boils down to two simple messages: “Better you learn how to make a decent exposure and have a camera that produces nice JPEG’s than trying to fix bad images in post and have a camera which forces you to always use RAW” and “native mount lenses work best, with less annoyances”. At least this is how I read this.

    I think even beginners must understand that there are many opinions, and neither Ken’s nor that of dpreview nor that of an acclaimed award winning photographer XYZ and certainly not that of your favourite camera manufacturer is the definite ultimate truth. Learning consists of collecting and filtering information, trying things and making own mistakes. Unfortunately there is no way around the last one.

    What concerns Ken’s pictures. They suck no more than pictures on dpreview or any other gear review site. At least Mr. Rockwell does not teach reader about composition, creative use of light, posing and doesn’t do photo critique. Apparently he sells his prints and does commercial jobs, but I’ve seen people much much worse claiming the same of themselves.

    TL/DR: Ken Rockwell is not bad for photography. Trusting blindly everything you find on the web is bad. It is stupid to make a decision about a $3000 camera based on what is written on one particular site.

    • Michael May 9, 2016 3:05 pm

      You do make good points Pavel. And this is exactly what I said at the end of my article: do not trust only one source.

      The way you’re reading his content clearly shows you have experience and that you have a critical approach to what you read. Honestly, it feels like you’re justifying his blunt statements, which actually do not help most beginners.

      My main issue is that Ken’s comments are very one-sided. Why not show both sides of the story? While one camera may not be for him, he could explain why it’s for another type of shooter. Many websites do this very well.

    • Oscar September 12, 2016 12:36 am

      I agree with Pavel and I see that author’s article here is one-sided as well. Criticizing that Ken’s website has outdated article about 6MPix is like criticizing the review of camera that was done 5 years ago. At that times, it was what was on market and there were no 42MPix cameras available to basic consumer. The references are definitely pulled out from context.

      Ken’s website is not a typical factual site, but why would it be ? You can find that information on manufacturer’s website or tons of same sites that doesn’t bring anything new. He is reviewing it from the personal perspective as a photographer, and he is old school film photographer that has experience beyond digital, so his opinions may be different that just digital pixel-peep geek.

      Some things are true, he was never over Megapixel war, unless you are doing commercial advertisement work, you really don;t need more than about 12MPix. Even Nikon D700 that is still today an amazing professional camera used all over world has that amount of Mpix.

      Oh, and by the way: almost every professional photographer uses RAW, but there are plenty photographers in professional business that I met have to work in JPEG for several reasons one of which is exactly pointed in Ken’s article: TIME. If you are working on event where you are handling memory cards with images to media representative within minutes the event ends or during the event then it’s JPEG only option. I also saw a photo studios working in turnover about 1/2hr after the client session was done, there is literally no time to load, process RAW, do edits and handle files back. But it depends if the author of this article ever worked in that fast environment, where time is money.

      I would not see Ken’s website as major source for your new gear buying opinion, but over time when you have acquired skills and options, it;s nice to get a view from a photographer that has more experience than you. It;s a chat like when you meet a buddy, everybody has it;s preference, and Ken is mostly Nikon user for years, and there I trust his option. You can find reviews and comparison tests for lenses that are no longer in production, where else you would like to pick the sharpest 50mm lens and see images side by side ? Some tests can only be done, if you own a gear from decades ago, and he really owns a lot, not buying/returning everything.

      That being sad, I do respect his opinion as another to the equitation and I am really glad he spends his time doing it. And if he reviews free equipment that he didn’t pay for ? So what ? Many bloggers do the same thing they just do it with manufacturer’s samples, and are not independent that way. Ken is not sponsored by anybody, so he is not taking anything for free, and can say anything even if the manufacturer would not like it.

    • iamcherinajones May 30, 2017 10:26 am

      Pavel, THANK YOU! I have been shooting for over 12 years and Ken’s site has been extremely helpful, however, I also use other sites and read other reviews before I purchase any gear. I have never read Ken’s reviews as directives, but instead suggestions based on his experience; which is the only experience from which he can genuinely draw.

  • Lewis May 2, 2016 8:44 pm

    The very reason I like Ken and subscribe to his site is that he presents opinions which more often than not are good ones and does not pretend that they are facts. What do you want ? One person’s fact is another;’s fiction at least over time. We live in a world that is changing all the time. Your facts are over rated.

    • Michael May 9, 2016 2:55 pm

      I’m glad to hear you like his content. Clearly there is an audience for it.

      However, I disagree: facts are not overrated. I really think that nowadays, there is a lot of misinformation around and trying to stick to facts is to be commended. Also, I find his opinions very one-sided.

    • Oscar September 12, 2016 12:41 am

      Exactly, facts can be found in every review or manufacturer’s page. I don;t need to know how the camera or lens look on DxO, the technical data do not do the final picture. It;s the photographer and how the equipment is used, and that can only come from subjective source and not laboratory tests.

      I feel that Michael’s opinion is also one sided and he is exactly the person that goes over every single technical data when comparing the equipment, but forgets that great camera in poor hands doesn’t do quality work.

  • musickna May 6, 2016 5:33 pm

    I enjoy Ken for his curiosity and wide range. He may not always be super accurate, but he is at least a photographer who embraces the whole of photography, not just the digital world which seems to be increasingly chasing its own tail these days. As a digital and film photographer perhaps his site has more to offer to me. He is a good writer, and carefully tailors his posts to reflect his enthusiasm (or not) about whatever he’s writing about – even if that appears to flatly contradict other articles he’s written. You have to aware of this, but with that in mind, I’ve found him and still find him a useful resource. Not the only one, of course.

    • Michael May 9, 2016 2:59 pm

      Thanks for your point of view musickna. I didn’t consider the film side, so I’m glad you mention that.
      It’s great that you can take a step back when reading his content. I’m worried a lot of newcomers don’t have that ability (I sure didn’t when I started photography).

  • Pete Renfrow May 17, 2016 2:49 am

    Taking camera gear back is not a sin! If the store doesn’t want you taking it back they should have a no return policy! End of storyl

    • Michael May 17, 2016 2:07 pm

      Pete, it’s not a sin when you do it once. When you do it repeatedly, it is called fraud (not by me, by US laws). Ethically, making by returning camera gear, and thus making camera stores lose money, is more than questionable.

    • Alexis June 1, 2016 3:19 pm

      If a few top reviewers like Ken Rockwell returns the gear, it is not much of a problem. The opposite is true, his reviews help most people. More problematic are professional photographers that order 3 lenses and choose the best, returning the 2 of less quality.
      I don’t think that his site is missleading to beginners. Every child older than 14 years knows from experience that adapters are nearly never a good idea, wherever they appear in technic.
      You are critisizing basic facts like “Why have americans bigger hands?”. Never heard about asian size? Never saw asians? (http://www.livestrong.com/article/289265-what-is-the-average-adult-male-height/)

    • Charlie October 12, 2017 2:38 pm


      Well, ok then!

      A store offers a return policy typically so someone can buy something and if the quality or use isn’t a fit for them, they can return it. And often a no return policy would put especially smaller stores out of business, the same as people using their products as rentals.

      So I do see it as an ethical call that someone may be using products to make a very good living, while investing very little into it or returning to the community so to speak.

  • Neale Blackburn May 17, 2016 1:48 pm

    I’ve had a few eyebrow raising moments reading Ken Rockwells opinions over the years but would have to say I have found his assessments and reviews of Nikon lens stock invaluable over the years.
    I think users of whatever level have to engage their critical faculties and seek different sources when doing their research but by and large Rockwell is a useful one stop independent repository when it comes to glass. His opinions are backed with data and tabulated test sample performance data and sample images.
    I’ve never been a fan of his photos or subject matter to be honest so would be unlikely to worry what advice he had about the actual business of photography.

    • Michael May 17, 2016 2:16 pm

      Neale, good to know about lenses. It is true that his website covers a large amount of gear. I’m just not sure I would say his opinions are backed by data (by which I mean facts)

  • Aru. S. May 27, 2016 5:01 pm

    Strong Disagreement.

    Just because he buys and returns his equipment (which is also, by the way, with seller’s consent)
    and that’s not the way you would go about it, is no reason to conclude that he’s bad for photography.
    If he doesn’t damage it, I don’t see anything wrong with it at all.
    Heck, even if he does, and the sellers accept the return, who is any third party to judge?

    About your point that “Lenses on adapters don’t work very well” on the A7RII review,
    It’s a camera review. If he sits down explaining every adapter and lens type that works and doesn’t, it turns into a lens/adapter review, not a camera review.
    There are separate pages for lenses, where I am sure you will find this information.
    Helped me so much when I switched to an FX D750 from a DX body and I needed to know what lenses work best and what don’t.
    For that, I never turned to another source, and I’m doing quite fine.

    Every device, he may say some equipment is not for the serious photographer (which you call narrow minded), which is honestly diplomacy for “this thing is not good”
    But note that he also lays down what is good about the device.
    (Unless the device is not good at all, in which case every other review on the internet mentions that too)
    He’s a specific kind of photographer (we all are)
    I agree with you when you say he should list what equipment suits whom, instead of declaring it just bad
    Contradicting yourself, because his RAW vs JPEG debate opens with him telling us that if we’re casual shooters shooting loads of images, JPEG
    If we like to shoot and tweak and modify images, and not click too many, RAW it is

    Also, he lists down an insane number of facts and statistics.
    On EVERY lens review, he goes into the minutest details- possible problems, hard focus infinity stop, how the lens even feels, the preceding and succeeding lenses, flares, aberrations and what not.
    Even the numbers to correct distortion at different focal lengths are listed!
    That much detail. Every single review.
    Haven’t seen that at many places.

    He’s always stressed on one point, it’s not your equipment, it’s you. Don’t splurge on equipment, you don’t need to.

    Let’s be honest, he has more experience in the field than most of us.
    He’s handled more equipment than I’ll probably ever even set my eyes on.
    His results are pretty good.
    His statistics are correct (check the distortion numbers yourself. Helped me loads.)
    I see no reason why one won’t trust him. You don’t like his opinions, of course you go to other sites and research further.
    No need to take his word as hard law.

    Do understand, every review ever, is subjective. His opinions reflect his experiences with the equipment. It is subjective, his review.
    So is yours, and I respect your opinion. I do, honestly. I hope I haven’t offended you in any way, that was truly not my intention. I’ve followed your work too.
    But these are the reasons I disagree.

    • Michael June 1, 2016 6:54 pm

      Thanks for your input Aru, I appreciate it. You’re being polite and measured, which can be rare online these days.

      I have to strongly disagree about the returns. Returning gear like this is considered fraud in a lot of places. Companies like Amazon ban users for returning too much. And to me, it’s not ethical to make money by making other business lose money (but I understand you might see it differently).

      You seem to find value in his reviews, I personally don’t (but you knew that). Obviously, reviews are subjective. But I prefer reviewers that try to be close to objectivity and Ken can be pretty far from that.

  • Nicolas June 1, 2016 4:45 pm

    I follow the webiste of ken rockwell for years, I learned a lot from his work. He has convictions, I understand that you don’t share all of them. This is just another angle. I never paid Ken Rockwell but after this post I will do to support him so I can read again and again his opinion and analysis.

    • Michael June 1, 2016 6:57 pm

      Good for you and good for him!

  • Rob June 8, 2016 8:16 am

    Ken Rockwell’s site is an amazing resource for those of us looking to get our daily dose of unintentional humor mixed in with photography product reviews. That he can gush about the Mamiya 43mm on one page and then claim anything beyond 6MP and RAWs are pointless on another is completely bizarre.

    Interestingly enough, his supporters seem to have even more bizarre opinions and thoughts as evidenced by this comment above:

    “I don’t think that his site is missleading to beginners. Every child older than 14 years knows from experience that adapters are nearly never a good idea, wherever they appear in technic. […]You are critisizing basic facts like “Why have americans bigger hands?”. Never heard about asian size? Never saw asians?”

    • Michael Muraz June 13, 2016 5:40 pm

      Thanks Rob! Glad to see that you’re taking his opinions with a grain of salt.

  • Neil Protheroe June 12, 2016 3:23 am

    Michael, I have to disagree with your narrative here. The vast majority of “reviews” about anything are entirely subjective, and express opinions before facts. I would never rely on one source of opinion to affirm any purchase decision, whether it’s a camera, a car, a hotel or a dentist. Rockwell’s site has a huge amount of easily-read, easily-found and easily-referenced information which is useful, whether you agree with his views or not. It is not a fact that RAW is a better choice of format than JPG. It is for some people, for not for everyone. Just one very simple example.

    • Michael Muraz June 13, 2016 5:46 pm

      Neil, I completely agree that one should check multiple sources before making a purchase. That’s exactly what I say at the end of my article.

      As I said in the article, I have no issue with JPEG. Ken is the one who is completely one-sided against RAW. All I’m saying is that he should acknowledge that people may have a use for RAW in certain cases.

  • Branko. June 17, 2016 10:42 am

    Well Michael, I believe that being subjective is not exclusive for Ken Rockwell only. From your point of view your article is quite correct and your statements have some strong points but they could be discussed and objected. At least I would object some of them and arguments are pretty visible in Rockwell’s site. There are few things, pulled out of contest, from different articles, they don’t belong for sure in the only one review of that Sony camera. BTW have you purchased that Sony camera or not? As somebody above listed said, you have discussed few things from different articles. One of them is ‘Megapixel myth’ which is completely accurate. The esence of this is ‘do you really need 36, 24, 12 or 6Mpixels’. Define your needs and what do you intend to do with your pics…WEB, small prints, large prints, murals? Another one is quoted: [Saying most people are basically pixel-peepers and that a $3,000 camera is for hobbyists is not helping anyone, and is quite condescending.] Saying ‘most people’ is perhapse too bold statement but is not far from the true. Just check out ‘Pixel-peeper’ site and pics posted there. You will see that ‘the more expensive equipment, the more mediocre pics’ is real. Maybe we are talking really about ‘generation gap’ and I will explain… Ken Rockwell is, as I concluded, more or less the same generation as I am (64′ or 65′). We have learned to appreciate the act of taking pictures itself aka shooting more than to spend time in dark room or ‘digital dark room’. Hence his article JPEG vs RAW. It is true that RAW files hide more information, better ‘quality’, more nuances or what than JPEGs. It is true that no standard exists in RAW files of different manufacturers. It is true also that digital dark room consume awfull lot’s of time whether you are processing JPEGs or RAWs. His idea was and still is that the real joy is behind the camera and not in front of the screen. I believe that his idea was ‘don’t spend money on something you don’t need’ but…spend all the money if you are pro and you are living of that. Or spend all the time in front of the screen processing RAWS, or JPEGs if you need that. Never purchase equipment for pure dick-o-metry. Is the emperor naked? Tell him that. Of course one should not rely on one source only. One should not rely on the whole article but only on some parts. Example…It’s being a long time I am not reading complete reviews of cameras from ‘dpreview’. I just go immideately on comparation pics estimating picture quality, noise managment etc. I cannot comment so called return policy of vendors. It does not exist in my country. It seems to me that it is simple agreement between both sides. And never ever Rockwell stated that returning equipment is his regular habitus, his way of living or exclusive way how to provide things. In every lens review he has ‘Deployment’ part ofthe article. In many of them it is clear that he resells his equipment either through B&H or ebay. Orother service… I don’t comment his pics for sale. But I would not reject apriori his thoughts on some pice of eqipment and I would not call him ‘danger for photography’. He has merits of his own. Perhaps the way how he is presenting those oppinions is not ideal. People never feel comfortable in the company of other people with stronger personality. Cheers

  • Jerry June 18, 2016 10:35 pm
    • Michael Muraz June 19, 2016 12:01 am

      Thanks Jerry, this is a goldmine! Clearly, there’s much more than I imagined.

  • Darryll June 19, 2016 4:13 pm

    A lot of people in the photography world seem to have a general dislike for him. I’m not sure if its all fairly placed on him. Now, I’ll admit that I do read his reviews for his point of view, as well as his good overview of the gear. However, I surely don’t take his words as the gospel. That being said, he all too often presents ideas in a reckless manner without distinguishing them from actual fact. Like you said, the biggest issue is that his website is often among the top results when searching for nearly anything photography-related.

    I get why you believe he can is dangerous for photography. A lot of young or new photographers will take his words as the gospel simply because of the his perceived clout. That being said, I will continue to at least read his reviews on gear because they are generally fairly thorough.

    • Michael Muraz June 20, 2016 11:35 am

      I think you have a good approach Darryll. The key is to remember that he’s not the gospel, as you say!

  • C. Y. Lau July 7, 2016 11:59 am

    Thank you for your article. I have read Ken’s website before, especially at the very beginning when I learned photography. Some of the points he made may be controversial, especially his presentation method. Different people may draw up different conclusions. I was quite surprised to see so many people discussing him. It means he had a large influence to those beginners.

    The most important thing I agreed with you is, read more articles from different authors before drawing up your own conclusion. It will be more objective.

    • Michael Muraz July 11, 2016 10:26 am

      You’re welcome C.Y.

  • AL July 13, 2016 1:23 am

    Poor Ken. I think perhaps people take it all a bit too seriously. I’ve often found his site to be useful, especially when considering a new purchase. He has saved me from gear acquisition syndrome more than once, lol. And ‘the seven levels of photographer’ article is pure comedy gold. Photography is a journey.

    • Michael Muraz July 13, 2016 9:15 am

      AL, I think that’s this is issue: most people take everything he says for granted and seriously. These 7 Levels article is absolutely ridiculous, but beginners won’t know it.

  • aa July 13, 2016 8:25 am

    ‘con’ rockwell is a con artist, and he’s done it very well, what do you expect?

    His photography knowledge and experience albeit mediocre
    (don’t take my words, just take a look at his photos –which often
    featuring his ugly son–, most are mediocre at best) is just enough
    to gather attentions, and might in fact quite helpful for many.
    Eventually they would pass him anyway, no matured photographer
    would take him seriously, much less a professional one.

    Only lazy photographers (like con rockwell) prefer jpeg from raw,
    and only clueless ones (like con rockwell) consider jpeg is equal
    in quality with raw. jpeg is a ‘lossy’ compression, duh..

    As annoying as he is, i think he still deserve the money he begs,
    if you can spend a few bucks to church or beggar, con rockwell
    definitely deserve more, doesn’t he?

    • Michael Muraz July 13, 2016 9:22 am

      No need to be disrespectful to Ken (or his son). I wouldn’t call him a con artist. I certainly don’t agree with him or with how he writes, but to each his own.

      I also don’t agree with you JPG/RAW statements. There are several advantages to shooting JPEG, even professionally. What matters is that people fully understand the advantages and downsides of each format.

    • Andrew McNaughton February 27, 2018 10:01 am

      im a pro of 34 years and i shoot JPEG cos I dont have time to edit 5k images per month YMMV of course

  • Vince Bernujcci July 13, 2016 7:53 pm

    This reminds me of the days yore of analog photography. We had one group of photographers who were more concerned about their cameras and lens specifications than they were about the statements their photographs should be making. The other group is more concerned with the end product itself, the finished photograph. Compare the wide variety of Imogen Cunningham’s photographs, say with the technically proficient Ansel Adams landscapes. If they were around today, Imogen would probably shooting JPEGs while ASnsel might be shooting RAW.

    • Michael Muraz July 15, 2016 12:41 pm


  • David Ringel July 17, 2016 11:11 pm

    I read a Ken Rockwell review and cruised his website for the my 1st time today. Before, I knew nothing about him. In fact, I read quite a few of his opinions over 3-4 hours – despite his bias for Nikon and Canon. I’m a Sony man – love red-headed step children.

    He does have some seemingly good experience to share, albeit, writing with the heavy-handed certainty of his own opinion. The more I browsed I begin to read everything more of his words with a grain of salt, but, he was upfront, constantly stating it was what he learned/preferred.

    Overall, I was initially impressed with his articles and the one on the Sony Zeiss Sonnar T✻ 24mm f/1.8 lens.

    But,1 thing kept bothering me all day – in fact, it bothered me quite a bit – and it was just a simple tidbit of information. But, as he so emphatically states everything with unshakeable assuredness, I began to feet he was sometimes intimidating the reader to stress his own opinion(s).

    That tidbit that bothered me so much was the fact that EVERY OTHER website I’ve read – including Sony’s own website (which has a chart of lens specs), states that the FULL FRAME EQUIVALENT OF THIS 24mm LENS = 36mm!!!

    Yet, twice, Mr. Rockwell states in his review:

    “Focal Length
    When used on an APS-C camera, it sees angles of view similar to what a 39mm lens sees when used on a full-frame or 35mm camera.” His field of view does match 61 degrees as all other sites do.

    It bothered me enough that he was privy to some insider insight and everything else I’d ever read was incorrect. I could not figure out how he got 39mm, instead of 36mm. We all know that everything you read on the Net is true, no?

    I kept researching his site, reading another of his articles concerning how to determine the best focal length for sharpness (for each Sony e mount lens), in terms of contrast and resolution, and the effects of diffraction.

    He was upfront about the mathematical complexity interpreting the best focal length for sharpness of each lens, and about a neophyte trying “to understand what they don’t need to know” – but, I came away with a feeling of his own self-inflation – especially after checking and re-reading his statement about the “24mm apsc = 39mm on a full frame”.
    Perhaps, his thesis on arctan formulas work his 39mm out, I don’t know and didn’t investigate further.

    It frankly made me feel his facts were only convenient if it jibed with his strong opinion. I finally had to quit reading and left with the opinion that Mr Rockwell did, indeed, have quite a bit of experience to be tapped, but, I really am going to evaluate his opinions very critically.

    He does have a lot to share, regardless of his slant – we can learn from the experience of everyone, I suppose? You don’t have to like the guy to benefit from his experience.

    • Michael Muraz July 22, 2016 4:20 pm

      24mm becomes 36mm with a 1.5x crop factor. My understanding is that on Canon camera, the sensor is slightly different and has a 1.6x crop factor. 24mm would be 38.4mm in that case, closer to Ken’s 39mm

  • Toyin Oshodi July 28, 2016 6:40 am

    Thanks for taking the time to write such an interesting and insightful article, Michael. Yes Ken’s reviews / thoughts are somewhat subjective but they are still useful.

    • Michael Muraz July 29, 2016 11:10 am

      You’re welcome Toyin. As long as you keep in mind that he’s subjective, I’m glad you find useful things on his website.

  • Luke Sequeira July 28, 2016 8:00 pm

    I think you are competing with Ken as far as people that are bad for photography go. ..

    • Michael Muraz July 29, 2016 11:12 am

      Luke, would you care to elaborate? Just saying it doesn’t make it true 🙂

  • Felipe Méndez August 2, 2016 11:00 pm

    “Ken Rockwell is bad for photography”
    And you came up with such a bold statement (which BTW appears right upfront on a google search) just by reading merely one review from him? (that’s the evidence you give to us)
    Don’t you believe that he – or anyone, for that matter- deserves a little more benefit of the doubt? Don’t you think you yourself would?
    I was once a Nikon guy, so I read back then many of his articles. I learnt a lot. Not about aesthetics, but a lot nonetheless. Not having much more to rely on, I followed most of his advice. And then I learnt a little more and started following my own instinct. I do not use Nikon any longer, nor I read Rockwell anymore.
    So, contrary to you, I do prefer opinionated fellows (in photography or anything), I don’t trust people who claim about FACTS (always in capital letters), I quitted pursuing objectivity (that doesn’t exist), I don’t think photography has anything to do with technicalities, I abandoned FF and RAW because I understood that the interest of an image does not reside nowhere near its technical characteristics (It just takes to take a look at the masters’ work).
    And the big advantage with Rockwell, who in my opinion is a mediocre photographer with color blindness to whom I wouldn’t buy even a passport photo, is that he has a bottom line which I happen to profoundly agree with: photography is not about gear, MPs and sharpness doesn’t matter, don’t waste money on specifications, try to make some good images with what you have, photography is an art form, not a technology.

    • Michael Muraz August 19, 2016 10:51 am

      Felipe, as I mentioned in my article, I used to spend time on the website as a beginner. I’ve read many reviews on his website, a recent one just happened to trigger my post. All quotes are not from the same article.

      If Ken thinks photography is not about gear, why does he spend so much time reviewing gear? The artistic side of photography is very important, but gear also is! Gear is what allows you to make art.

  • pl capeli August 13, 2016 1:50 am

    KR , whose lens reviews i usually value OFTEN completely misses the point… where enthusiasts would expand the scope of places where this nikkor would find use in ones camera bag ….. it goes way way beyond nikon bodies it was originally intended for , with no end in sight …. strangely kockwell is fine with manual focusing of leica voigtlander or zeiss lenses on leica zeiss or even epson rf bodies … but when someone trys this with a vintage nikkor lens on a mirrorless body he throws a hissy fit and takes a crap on its utility and ever broadening appeal everywhere mirrorless is gaining traction

    he will learn someday … his admiration for real lenses made of metal with operational aperture rings and true focusing helicoids like this nikkor for instance are given new leases on life for decades to come… in spite of krs misplaced disdain for adapted lenses generally

    above is a post i wrote today at dp review …. i put it here for your perusal

  • John Browning August 17, 2016 2:20 am

    THANK YOU! I read Kens reviews and always take them with more than a grain of salt. More like a salt lick. Ken can be very insulting, referring to gear and people as amateurs if they use a certain type of gear or behave in a manner not to his “standards”. I find him condescending and snobbish much of the time. He also contradicts himself throughout the site. A lot of engineers are like that, somewhat ultracrepidarian if you will. But he does do a tremendous amount of work and I respect him for that. But I would steer newbies away from him before they are poisoned.

    • Michael Muraz August 19, 2016 10:54 am

      You’re welcome John. I totally agree with you. And yes, he does do an huge amount of work, which is remarkable.

  • Bill August 19, 2016 10:42 am

    Michael, you seem like an uber douche bag…

    • Michael Muraz August 19, 2016 10:55 am

      Thank you Bill for bringing so much to this conversation.

  • Ben August 20, 2016 4:57 am

    Well Michael, thanks for your article. I think you’ve been way too nice, kind, gentle and polite or maybe blind not to see that the main problem is that his pictures are simply not good. Sorry to say that, I am not a professional photographer but looking at his gallery on his website makes me think ‘wow, dude, stop writing, buy a cheap pocket camera and work on the content of your pictures’. Seriously what the hell?! Is it a joke? Can we make a living out of this work??!! Personally, I would never dare posting pictures like this and claim that I am a pro photographer. If people think he does, then maybe I should stop photography and go back to my painting lessons. The worse is that he claims more than 20 years experience in photography. It is like starting to play guitar in the 90s and not being able more than 4 songs from the Nirvana unplugged album 20 years later. He can talk about whatever he wants, he is just not a good photographer. He certainly writes better than he takes pictures. In a nutshell, he does not only have big American hands, he also has a big American mouth (do not want to be offensive here, Just want to conclude with a punchline).

    • Michael Muraz August 24, 2016 11:40 am

      You don’t need to take great pictures to review gear. I agree that he talks like he’s a great photographer and that his photos just don’t support that. But I don’t really care about the greatness of photos when I read a gear review

  • Nick August 22, 2016 11:44 am

    Hi – just looked at some of the articles here, which I got to from a google search on hyperfocal focusing.

    I came across a couple of blogs on ‘why people hate Ken Rockwell’ and was intrigued.
    His articles and the history made some sense, his images aren’t as good as he makes them out to be but the straw that broke the camels back is when he said ‘ I wouldn’t buy Nikon as I’m not giving money to a communist state’. What century is he living in?.

    I am in England and possibly don’t really understand american politics but this stood out as crass nonsense. I was also considering making a donation mainly because of the breadth of info on the site but definitely won’t now.

    • Michael Muraz August 24, 2016 11:42 am

      That’s exactly what I’m talking about: there is too much non-sense for me to take anything he says seriously.

      PS: I don’t hate him at all.

  • Jay Groccia August 22, 2016 10:30 pm

    I never heard of Ken Rockwell before today. I received an invite to attend the grand opening events at a new Leica store in Boston next month and was googling some Leica models and came across one of his essays and then I googled him and landed on this page,
    I have to agree on many points with this article and I’ll only disagree with one, that is the MP feature. I shoot a lot of time-lapse films for construction projects, especially wind turbines. Many of the segments require a fairly high frame rate that clogs even fast cards if I shoot at full resolution and then the films are rendered in 1080P. Will customers start asking for 4K? I’m sure it will happen, but I still won’t need to shoot 23MP frames.
    Again, it’s a minor point, but I do “get” why Ken quibbles on a camera not having that feature, but not for the reason he states. If I’m shooting stills, there’s no reason not to shoot in full resolution.

    • Michael Muraz August 24, 2016 11:44 am

      I totally understand that, in your case, lowering the resolution make sense. However, this is a very specific case. most people don’t shoot a lot of timelapses and you could pick a camera specifically for this type of use.

  • Jay Groccia August 24, 2016 8:37 pm


  • A friend August 31, 2016 7:22 pm

    Rockwell’s site doesn’t have a part to write comments to help us and himself more on an article. tell me if it’s not bias if we can’t asked question or write a comment. He could just smile or laugh, but until then, I’m not gonna find him legitimate, although sometimes I read that some one wrote him a letter. It seems like you have more haters than him.

    • Michael Muraz October 25, 2016 4:15 pm

      I’m fine with the lack of comments section. A lot of websites have deleted theirs after the onslaught of bad comments and trolls. It’d be better if it had one, but it’s not my main concern.
      Whenever you put strong opinions online, you’ll have haters. Probably why some people remove comments sections 😉

  • Daniel Fionte October 7, 2016 8:19 am

    Michael, I agree with you and while there are people here who don’t and make some valid points, Ken Rockwell is still dangerous in my opinion. He is taken as a leading source of photographic knowledge by a lot of casual photographers mostly because of his SEO and that he’s been around for a long time so people know his name. He’s also an atrocious photographer… As you say, never trust just one source, and that especially includes Ken Rockwell.

  • Simon October 8, 2016 1:56 pm

    Very nice article.
    Yes, Ken states a lot of things as objective but are subjective (tell one thing: is there anything really 100% objective in this world? Nope: reality is ony subjective). But about the A7 series reviews (i have an A7/M2+16-35 – wonderful) I can say he is right. Those cameras are not excellent for all types of shooting such as “point and shoot”, sport, nature. Ken is like me: black or white, no grey tones. love him or leave him. I love him.

    • Michael Muraz October 25, 2016 4:05 pm

      As long as you have a critical look at what he says, feel free to love him, Simon! All I’m saying is be careful and don’t take what he says as facts.

  • Michael October 23, 2016 9:02 pm

    One of Ken’s greatest services is educating people that you don’t have to go out and buy really expensive gear, and that buying refurbished or used is OK. Not every generation of Company X”s new camera is necessarily better than what preceded it and he often points that out. And where there are trade offs i.e. the new model has better battery life but a poorer flash, or no depth of field preview, etc. he ferrets out information that the average person might not realize and saves you a lot of time and his format is quick to read. There is not a single camera, or lens regardless of price that doesn’t have naysayers. There is not a single review site that always gets it right.

    • Michael Muraz October 25, 2016 4:23 pm

      Michael, of course Ken is saying some good things. But there is a difference between not always getting it right and being biased or misleading.

  • rytwinger October 25, 2016 9:32 am

    Well Mike, I don’t subscribe to Rockwel’, take none of his advice and spend my spare time producing my own photography…You should try that yourself…The constant Ken bashing is, well a bit snobbish, me thinks…..

    • Michael Muraz October 25, 2016 4:03 pm

      Rytwinger, Good advice, though you do realize that I’m a full time commercial photographer, right? So yes, I do spend my time producing my own photography.
      I certainly didn’t mean to come out as snobbish. I have nothing against Ken himself, I simply want beginners to take a second look at what he says. A single article in several years of blogging seems far from “constant bashing”

  • Joassin November 1, 2016 7:31 pm

    In the world of photography, there are many people with different opinions and Ken’s are not the worse. Saying that he is bad for photography…that is going a little too far.

  • David Schaefer November 13, 2016 7:05 pm

    This article might be better titled “How Do I Drive Searches for Ken Rockwell to My Site”. Apparently he isn’t the only one that knows a thing or two about SEO.

  • cw November 19, 2016 8:52 am

    I’ll agree with you that he is bad for photography, but for different reasons. One of the earliest and most important lessons is that cameras do not see the world the way our eyes do. Part of it is the way they see light differently; part of it is that they freeze and preserve a fleeting moment in time allowing us to see something our eyes might have otherwise missed. When you have been a photographer for a long time, you reach a point when you see photographers like KR in only one of three ways: [1: The ones that inspire you] [2: The ones that don’t] [3: What is the third way? Jump to the end if you wish]. The ones that have some special ability to use the way cameras see light and those fleeting moments are the ones to learn from and follow, and KR just does not inspire me. Do I think his photography is bad? No. It just does not inspire me. For those who defend him, you might feel differently if you spent even a short period of time around him. You might realize that not only does he think it is funny how people argue over him, but that he looks down on those who do as amateurs. At the same time, he intentionally provokes controversy and those people as a marketing and SEO strategy which drives traffic to his site and drives his affiliate sales commissions, which is a big source of income for him. My educated guess is he makes proportionately very little with his photography. I don’t think that being intentionally controversial in order to profit off of people’s most base tendency to argue online (and then condescending to all those “amateurs” who do) is very honorable or noble. Think of all the great photographs that have been collectively missed while arguing about him in front of a keyboard instead of being behind the lens. I have no doubt I missed some good light or moment while writing this. That is why he is bad for photography. He intentionally gets people to argue about him with SEO and profit in mind, mocks those of us who do, and we waste our time we could have been spent behind the lens. What is the third way to see a photographer like KR? As one who wastes our precious time – the one thing that all of us are given an absolutely equal amount of and that once spent can never be replaced. Oh – there went another one somewhere – some photo I could have made instead of writing this.

  • Robbie Millar November 28, 2016 10:05 am

    Ken has always attracted more than his fair share of haters…& I dont think that will ever change….because he is a success &because most haters hate people who are successful…especially ( but not limited to Americans haters) They love to pull down & destroy who become too famous or good at what they do…a classic example would have been Michael Jackson, whose reputation was viciously destroyed……because he did what he did too well…there are thousands of others too….as long as Ken Rockwell prospers…hw get heavy flack….I Have never bought a camera of lens before checking with Kens site…10 years down the line and 8 cameras later & I am as happy & satisfied with his advice as the first day ( and some 14 lenses later too)..I have never ever made a bad buy because of his advice….& every one I have reccomended, mainly friends and family have never had a beef with his advice…..but i must point out that I am not a pro shooter and I am not well know or famous….but I I reamain a happy & satisfied Ken Rockwell follower

    • cw November 28, 2016 2:31 pm

      Criticism does not automatically make someone a hater. There are many others in photography who are just as well known and successful who are not criticized nearly as much. That is likely because they show much more respect toward others, so they are respected in return. Joe McNally is one of many who come to mind.

  • Axel v. November 29, 2016 3:32 pm

    The only thing that is “bad for photography” that I have been confronted here with is the vast amount of time and effort wasted in negating another photographer’s opinions instead of putting it to good use in bettering yourself both artistically and humanely… I could not help noticing the void, dark and lifeless photographic content left as referent to destitute vanity by you. So sad.

    • hkk December 13, 2016 12:00 pm

      I think there is merit in dialogue. This article points out an opinion against Rockwell’s with much respect and in a civil tone. Not all disagreements are attacks.
      Also, you do not see beauty in these photos? Void? Lifeless? Destitute vanity? I perhaps do not have the sophisticated taste and keen eye to see the void and lifelessness.

  • Uli Wolff November 29, 2016 4:51 pm

    Well: Can one single bricklayer be bad for architecture? Not even if he does the job in the middle of CNN news, I guess. Let’s face it: Ken Rockwell worked for quite some time to become an institution. I stumbled into his reviews being a Nikon user and collector. Besides hardcover books and in earlier days there were just not that many photo blogs and I cannot tell taht in the days he started the world called such thing a blog yet at all. But: Anyone may have noticed that it took quite long to scroll down to these lines from the end of your article. Although you also used some lines to comment on comments, your opinion made amazingly many people put their opinion in the ring as well. I state that most of those good people did not get up in the morning with the idea to write something about Ken Rockwell – but you just threw a little stone in the water and now you have a hard time to count the rings. One of your main points is that the guy may be misleading beginners and probably irritate young photographers. My most subjective point of view on that is: Your generation is focused too much on things like that because of a certain weakness you have: You are far easier to irritate and mislead as the guys and girls from my generation (built 1955 – still going strong). Who ever makes a wrong decision while having taken everything – or even something – in a photo blog for ultima ratio. Well: The Darwin award has a section for photographers as well. Ken Rockwell does Infotainment. He polarizes with his opinions, mixes crude ideas with common sense and uncommon nonsense – and it’s up to you to tell what starts where. If someone cannot handle this – well stay in the city and don’t miss the last bus. You cannot learn life from books and you cannot learn choosing the right equipment from the internet. I think that I do not need a cyber nanny but maybe there even is a place for what you do in this world – the planet has a comfortable size. And sure, Ken Rockwell is not a god of photography, neither a Salgado nor an Adams. And neither of those would have read his blogs if they would have been availyble for them. But not Ken Rockwell is to blame for that, these guys just never needed such a blog. But people in the Renaissance did not need Cheeseburgers as well – no reason to ban Cheeseburgers today. Over here in my country Bavaria people would recommend to remove the broomstick from its present position just to become a little more flexible. Not you, of course. We will never ever move outside the framework of PC. By the way: Can you tell details about the click ration between Ken Rockwell and anotherangle.eu?

  • davidsrobotroots December 13, 2016 11:00 am

    Poorly written and also highly opinionated. Except for the bit about raw!

  • hkk December 13, 2016 11:45 am

    Thank you for this article. Very helpful to hobbyists like myself. Your article has helped me make better use of Rockwell’s websites. Finding the merits of his writing and knowing when to question his statments.
    Thank you.

  • peter December 14, 2016 1:38 pm

    If you must belittle someone to make a point or to justify your opinion than I believe your case has very little substance.

  • Mger December 20, 2016 7:39 am

    Just gone through your article. It has strong points and weak point.
    But the one thing, I don’t understand at all. Why you think, that photography beginners are taking his articles, and all the info on that site as a gospel, and believe every word that is written there, and only there. If you did that “mistake” when you were young and at the very beginning of your career, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every beginner will do it.
    As for me, I know his site for a long time, actually its the first serious site which I started to read when I decided to go deep into photography and try myself in this hobby. I was reading it when I was passing through the agony of choosing, when I was trying to figure out which camera should I buy, cause I had low budget and just one shot (got D5000 in the end). I used in my hobby many of his advices. And I consider the most important advice from him to me, which I follow not only in photography but almost in every part of my life is: photographer takes the picture, not the camera. And you need to make the best use of what you have, before considering to upgrade your gear. And it worked for me. I’ve done few amazing photos with my first Canon SX130is (point-and-shoot), which I was never able to repeat (at my personal opinion, I’m very critical to myself) with my D5000 Nikon. P.S.: nothing serious, I’m just an amateur.

  • Robert Nuttmann December 25, 2016 3:14 pm

    I enjoy Ken Rockwell’s website. I have read it for a number of years. He is quite clear about the fact that much of what he writes is his opinion. But then he includes all sorts of useful facts about lenses, camera dimensions, types of film, facts on older cameras, and so on. He has been writing this website for a number of years and many of the pages are from 5, 10, 12 years ago. So read them taking that into consideration. I will credit Ken for getting me to start using my film cameras again and buying a few more to play with. He also helped me pick out my last two DSLRs. His comments on the DSLRs were quite in line with many other writers. His fight with a few people on jpeg vs raw has caused me to do a fair amount of testing on my own. In the end I think using both raw and jpeg is correct.

    I think Ken’s web site is a very useful resource for all photographers. If you don’t like what he says then don’t go there. But to say he is bad for the industry is your opinion and not mine. I think he is very good for photography.

  • nestor December 28, 2016 10:16 am

    Ken Rockwell make a living from his site, and in order to do so need zillions pf hits, as more people enters it, bigger the revenue. And one way to generate traffic is through confusion. Saying camera desn’t matters and next day saying and old Nikon D200 is POS (just only as an example, I an defending ole cameras) generates traffic, and traffic means money. What bothers me is the way he shows himself, “I am the only one who know and the other ones are imbeciles”. I remember when iphone 4 was launched (think it was 4 or perhaps 5 or even 6, it doesn’t matters) he recommended not to buy it because he didn’t and not to be and idiot and spending so much in it, instead his recommendation was to buy an iphone 2 (yes 2) , several months later he buys the newer one and instead of being an idiot he shows himself as the smarter guy on earth and recommending you to exchanging for the new model. In other words he has a lot of information and little knowledge. I bought my first nikon af film camera around 90, body cap was different to the non af cameras, ken realized it fifteen years later when he wrote that nikon had changed caps.

    And about quality of his pictures a few ones are decent, but mostly, well, a pinhole camera will be sufficient for him.

  • nestor December 28, 2016 10:21 am

    regarding my former comment I made a typo error my intention was to say that

    I am not defending old cameras

  • Rick T. December 31, 2016 7:52 pm

    How’s that go? “Opinions are like…”. From KR’s website: “This website is a work of fiction, entirely the product of my own imagination and personal opinion. To use words of Ansel Adams on page 193 of his autobiography, this site is my “aggressive personal opinion,” and not a “logical presentation of fact”.”

    Sounds like Ken is pretty upfront. While I prefer other styles of photography other than his, I do appreciate the educational and entertainment value I personally take from Ken’s site. I believe I’m intelligent enough to gather data from multiple points, analyze, and come to my own conclusions. Caveat emptor.

  • Chris January 1, 2017 7:26 pm

    Michael…. who cares…. People enjoy his site and his content. It looks like you yourself don’e have anything else to write about. If someone wanted a literal, factual, and scientific review there are dozens of good sites for that. What there isn’t a lot of is sites like his, from people that actually have a lot of experience. Anyone can get a camera, take a picture of a bunch of graphs and post them online with your obvious findings. Not everyone has been a photographer for 30+ years and writes their opinion. It’s like saying that you wouldn’t recommend someone taking the opinion of Jimmy Hendrix on a guitar, instead people should listen to joe blow who made a site and uses microphones to record the sound of guitar strings and posts which one sounds the best. Photography, like music, IS subjective. I don’t think you get it…… I personally don’t take what he says literally, nor was it written to be taken literally, but it is very easy to read between the lines and compare your needs to his experience. Beginners are exactly that, Beginners. They will learn with time and trial an error as ken has. Isn’t that the point?

  • James Chow January 5, 2017 10:41 am

    It’s funny, I just read https://www.photographytalk.com/forum/photography-general-discussion/271837-ken-rockwell-a-self-proclaimed-know-it-all , then went to Google to look up this guy and came across your article. I’ve seen other post about Ken and his thoughts on shooting in JPG. Fro Knows Photo is another place I’ve found some interesting thoughts. Personally don’t know the guy, just looking at entertainment value of these sort of articles. It’s like watching Orange County house wives, humorous drama!

  • James Chow January 5, 2017 10:44 am

    @Chris there is a difference between knowing something (really knowing it) and claiming you do and teaching others poor habits. Just my 2 cents. I’m seeing this from an outsider and can’t help to see all the comical articles about this guy. Perhaps if he was a little more humble, that would impact how people perceive his advice.

  • An Nguyen January 12, 2017 4:09 am

    Got the same feeling reading his opinionated articles. Some reviews are useful to skim through but got frustrated with his condescending style. Thanks for pointing out all the biases in KR sites.

  • HPM January 14, 2017 9:31 pm

    While Ken’s words are not holy. I have actually learned quite about lenses from him. I checked one of the other sites that you mention. Mostly on this site the concern was primarily zoom range. Widest f stop. optical and mechanical quality, cost, and what you want to photograph all make a difference. I have even made some nice photos using a pinhole camera.

  • Kevin Escobar February 2, 2017 2:26 pm

    Thank you for putting my feelings into words, many people consider him the end all be all of camera reviewers and it is just not true!

  • Ben February 10, 2017 6:16 pm

    KR – by his own definitions and by his “Seven Level of Photographers” – is an amateur photographer – who just happens to make a living reviewing photography products. I can’t even count the times I have read on his daily news feed him labeling some person or group of persons as idiots, morons, or amateurs, which in itself is un-professional.

    • Anna Garrison March 10, 2017 12:24 am

      he can’t do, so he reviews?

  • John Falconer February 19, 2017 9:39 am

    Thanks for your great article. I’ll keep it short. I’ve always found Ken Rockwell’s articles and reviews to be a bit one sided, bias in favour of Nikon in particular, quite subjective, and even a little bit opinionated! But. But. But. I quite like then once I take all this in to account. I would rather that than a sterile meaningless review. But I enjoyed your “rant”. Good stuff.

  • Anna Garrison March 10, 2017 12:23 am

    Ken Rockwell’s reviews, I thought, were useful, until I contacted him about the sharpness of a particular lens he said was very Sharp. I said it was not sharp, and sent him samples. I few messages back and forth and this is what he says to me, a relatively seasoned stock photographer:

    youre right, this is horrible.

    without access to the original files i cant see much to help.

    i doubt its the lens; its just awful



    I sent him a 100% sized jpg – because he told me he DOES NOT SHOOT IN RAW!!! What professional photographer never shoots in RAW? This guy is an idiot trying to belittle people and send them down the wrong track – perhaps by sending others on a goose chase, he builds his business? No, Ken, you will not be getting my support for you or your family. And I was going to order a new lens through your links

    I have already sent the lens, a 35mm 1.8G Nikkor, back to Nikon for repair.

    I sent this response to Ken: (kenrockwell@kenrockwell.com)

    It is the lens, and yes, it’s awful. I sent you a full size jpg. Since you shoot in jpg (not RAW) I did not send you a RAW file because I figured you wouldn’t know what to do with it.

    By saying you doubt it’s the lens, you’re implying it’s something to do with my skills, and you know nothing about me other than what I have told you. I clearly told you all of my settings and all the things I tried.

    Shame on you for being a chauvinistic pig and trying to belittle me. I can see now that your site is quite useless, and I certainly won’t be going through it to purchase camera equipment and help support you and your family.

    • Mikhail March 23, 2017 10:39 pm

      Ive always liked Nikkor AF-D. Even the manual focus lenses which I still use. The G series lens is weird. I also own a 35 1.8G. At this point during AF the lens can reach points where you hear squeaking and grinding. I tried another newer nikon lens 70- 300 with VR. I returned it after a week of finding nothing good about it. The VR was ok at best. These 2 lenses are my least favorite. I feel like my AF-D lenses get the colors right. Even adapted to my a6500 I get fantastic photos. Ive given up on G lenses. I hope they work well for whom they’re intended for. But for me the “Bokeh” is not more pleasant as Nikon states. The up side is the lens is very light weight. My 1.4 50 AF-D gave the best colors. Tone. Contrast and white balance approximation for auto wb. Paired with a d70s. Now with a nikon d90 i got great iso range. More features. Bigger preview screen. But the colors need post. I wanted to make comments to this article. Starting with the 6 mp comment. My d70s produced better photos in camera. I could take the jpgs straight to a dye sub printer no adjustments for a great photo. Nikons current flagship dslr shoots 4 mp less than most crop sensor bodys. That says something. One take away is bodys are specialized. Some for low light. Others for resolution and dynamic range and others for video or compact photography for less to lug around which is what i am currently into. I want to carry a smaller body with several primes that are also relatively small. With some cameras as dynamic range increases a less usable jpg is produced because the DR unprocessed will look flat. This is why you will see Gary Fong advocating to leave your camera on sRGB mode instead of Adobe RGB for most common work which does not demand it. One thing my sony is great for is adapting lenses. Because of the zoom for manual focus. Focus peaking meters and in aperture priority while it does not know the aperture of my lenses. The metering seems to do its thing and adjust shutter speed accordingly during aperture changes. The colors come out good on jpg. I just prefer to take a second look at all my images. And i do pixel peep to see what my lenses are doing when i have a particular shot. If i like what was shot ill keep it regardless of how bad the lens did. Which is how i stumbled on ken rockwells site that on one page made me feel better about my photos because it outlines that when you focus its a relatively flat plane so nothing is ever really entirely focused. With wide open apertures you get soft images and vignetting . With higher f stop you lose light. And intensify diffraction and purple fringe. And moving lens elements along with aperture ring change the angle of wavelengths of light which can result in chromatic abberration. In summary there are many imperfections and if we all went off of DxO labs lens charts we would lose our minds and our money. We buy what we can afford and find strengths in what we bought and how we use it. In the end its about your image. The composition. Things will always be imperfect. So just do the best you can and dont expect your equipment to combat things you cant combat. I avoided the sony camera mentioned in this article after seeing image examples of ISO invariant cameras they seem to do weird things with highlights and shadows and where they meet. Sonys a6000 comes as a kit for 648. I didnt have to spend 1746 on my a6500. But i did, i bought it knowing i wasted my money. In exchange for in body image stabilization. 4k 100mbps video. 450 AF points with touchscreen AF. Higher iso, an extra custom button to assign functions to. If those things arent needed and u just need the same camera with kit lens you get for 648 with the a6000. Infact at 548 for the body only i can have another camera on me so i can have 2 primes on while i shoot. Same mount. Same sensor minus the stuff i listed above. I havent bought a new camera since the d90 so i have a lot to look forward to but for me. My favorite thing about this camera is not any of the things i mentioned above. It is charging my camera with a usb cable. The same i charge my cell phone with. Thats what sells for me. Being someone who loves to shoot primes and adapted manual focus lenses i cannot recommend sony for their abysmal lens collection. Nikon and Canon lead that market. But if you get the camera for the reasons i did. You most likely didnt get it for sports and the MF lenses i use are not going to utilize any of the 400+ af points. I wasted my money. But i am happy. Perhaps the way he returns his camera equipment should be something to take example from in the sense that you should have some time with your equipment and you should be entitled to a refund if it is not right for you. Just like cars arent good for every application. Camera systems are built by the photographer. Photographing soccer i doubt youll get a body that does terrible high iso with a lens thats a 10-18mm f/4. Or if youre on a tight budget instead of the 648 for the a6000 with 16-55 you bought an a6500 like me for 1746. For people that crave resolution Ken has a good article about getting 100MP prints for less than 2000 bucks and the article was written 11 years ago. I just am not in the business of learning to develop film.

      Here’s a link


  • james humphrey March 12, 2017 11:24 pm

    in a subjective and biased opinion you simply have a personality conflict of style of what you value in a perfection that doesn’t exist and are being unduly harsh to your contradictions and hypocrisy as you get older or wiser begin to understand. you then would be felix in an odd couple match up. bad for beginning photographers ?? what of the fun of photography ?? i don’t see that he is damaging to young photographers. a young photographer should be learning camera functions and basics then finding camera gear suitable and not relying on one source of opinion. creativity in photography goes far beyond data and facts. I would think that you’re underestimating young beginners. experience with your ‘ bad camera and lenses ‘ and how you can use it to make a masterpiece is more what is about – its the end photo result. if those are you photos in the article they are quite technical good and stylishly chic, but, they lack any enduring spirit – nice camera tricks based on facts and knowledge and saleable commercial work, no more. KR’s ‘bad’ photos may have more life and personality. you could offer KR an apology.

  • Bryce M March 14, 2017 10:11 pm

    Interesting thoughts, when I first got to photography I was susceptible to looking for firm opinions to latch onto, since the sheer volume of products in the market was totally overwhelming. I ended up reading the lighting tutorials on The Strobist, and that really helped temper my initial sense that I had to find the perfect gear (I don’t believe there is any “perfect” gear anymore, it’s really about honing your technique and thinking creatively).

    Anyway, I digress. I think your criticism of Ken is fair, and perhaps newcomers will find him first and be steered toward gear that may not be the most ideal for what they want to pursue. But they won’t be steered toward awful gear. The other side of your criticism is technique, and here you have a point; his heyday was in the film era and he was in the vanguard of professionals that moved from film to the first few generations of quality DSLRs. Those guys were shooting digital to turn into paper prints – which is increasingly going away as well. I remember my father, who was a professional wedding photographer, saying “you really don’t need much more than a megapixel” to me once, because he could get 8x10s and other prints to look good with very small sizes. That was in the early 2000s. Reading Ken, you can quickly tell that he cut his teeth in another era, and his preferences don’t reflect where digital photography is going, but rather some expert level preferences based on where it has been.

    Also, and this is a societal issue, not a photography issue: if you’re reading something, anything, don’t make up your mind after reading the first source, unless perhaps your’e reading the oxford dictionary. All reviews are opinions, the only thing that is fact is the spec sheet.

    Anyway – enjoyed the criticism – I think the bottom line is that we need to encourage each other to think critically all the time!

  • Trackback: What's the story with Ken Rockwell?
  • Antonio March 20, 2017 3:34 pm

    I’m quite keen follower on KR, often we dislike who declares something against our choices, but i think that he is often right in a world where marketing reasons rule. Certainly is not a goddish but. I cant ignore his opinions on cameras when I want go deeper…

  • Steve March 28, 2017 9:23 am

    Ken Rockwell’s website is only good as a catalogue. Search up a lens, and he’s bound to have made a ‘review’ of it. By ‘review’ I mean a vomit of the camera specs + a few crappy photos of a palm tree that are indistinguishable from the 1000s of other ‘reviews’ he does. That being said, with more and more lenses in circulation being newer 2005+, you can find all this info on Amazon.
    What I dislike most about Ken Rockwell is the tone that he uses in his writing. It’s always condescending and arrogant. He writes as if he knows best and is the authoritative figure on photography and getting a great photo. This is FAR from the case. For purely pixel based reviews, or handling/ergonomics, or real world, etc, you will find far better reviewers. An example of his tone: “I have 50 pages of FACTS. Pay attention.” Or for example he will spiel on about filters or other things that the beginner photographer doesn’t have a clue on. Sounds impressive and makes him look like a ‘top photographer expert’, but the kicker is that he doesn’t explain anything – it’s to a point where I no longer think he’s omitting the explanation because he can’t be bothered, rather he is a complete moron who actually is just reciting from the other end of his food hole and doesn’t know squat.
    Also, if you look at his gallery you will realise he really has no idea how to use a camera. When I opened his gallery, I was looking for some decent photos – surely he would show case some of his work. Instead I get bland, pictures that honestly look like random tourist photos without the charm. All of his work doesn’t even look amateur – it looks like a grade 10 kid whose been asked to shoot some stuff on a DSLR for school. Even that might be too nice to him.
    Also I know everyone has to make a living somehow, but does he have to use the accusing guilt trip tone on all of his articles? The website presents a low quality drivel of a review and everything has been completely monetised. There are little guilt tripping buttons like “PLEASE HELP” instead of “DONATE.” Or he will blab on about how he has the BEST info, and the BEST review, and so you should really donate if you haven’t. From the sheer number of people who have said they’ve donated to him, or give money to him monthly, it seems like his methods have been successful.
    The most laughable thing I’ve seen is that if you want to print out a part of his page, please send via bank/paypal $5. Five fukcing dollars. Honestly, what a despicable thing to do. I wonder how many poor, older folk he has conned out of their money, because they’ve wanted to print some specs out to show their grandkid. Shame.
    But as always, bad publicity is good publicity – and that is what churns the clicks and the money. Well played. A fantastic example of an ‘entrepreneur’. For that reason, I can respect him as a business man. But as someone who has your interests in mind when you’re looking for information that is going to affect you? Forget about it. Go somewhere else.

  • Steve March 28, 2017 9:47 am

    Straight out from his most recent review – in the FIRST paragraph. Never change, lol.

    —– “While not as fast or as distracting as Nikon’s professional cameras, the D3400 has more resolution than any Nikon professional DSLR ever! The D3400 has 24 MP compared to the $6,500 Nikon D5’s mere 20 MP. (The D810 has more pixels, but is a consumer camera.)” – Ken Rockwell, D3400 review.

    See that’s why people don’t like him. He attracts newbies and make statements like these. He doesn’t explain anything – such as WHY you would want higher MP (more res if you plan to blow it up and frame it on the wall). Yes, it’s true the D3400 has more megapixels than Nikon’s D5 – but how on Earth is that relevant to the review. It’s pulling two pieces of facts with NO context, and placing them side by side. Different cameras for different purposes. It’s like saying “The olympus OMD EM5 has a 12MP sensor which has LESS resolution than my 40MP Nokia Lumia 1020 phone. My Lumia costs less than an EM5!!!” – adds nothing except making it sound important to the ill-informed.

    —- “The D3400 is for people who want great pictures. More expensive cameras are for people who want fancier cameras. While I cover all the more expensive Nikons which are of interest to hard-core photographers, when my normal friends ask what camera to get, it’s always this inexpensive D3400 or the older, less expensive and almost identical D3300. The only reason I often shoot fancier cameras is that I have to go into menus to set the advanced features of the D3400, while my bigger cameras usually have dedicated knobs or buttons to let me make those adjustments more quickly. No worries, most people don’t even know what these adjustments do, which is why the D3400 does away with the extra buttons to save us all money — and all the features are still there in the menu system.” – Ken Rockwell, D3400 Review

    Just wow. He recommends every one buys a cheapo camera with cheapo f5.6 lenses, but he himself buys a fancy camera. I love the way he says it. He basically implies that EVERYONE else who buys a fancy camera is simply because they have too much money to blow and just want a fancy camera, while he is a ‘PRO’ (self proclaimed) and needs it because of the dials etc. Also, I love the patronising tone to the audience. Oh, you’re too dumb to know about my “bigger camera” and all its “knobs and buttons.” Puhlease. Also Ken, have you looked at your own photos? Complete rubbish. Why use expensive gear if you aren’t going to attempt to actually learn how to use it, and just use auto mode all the time – cos that’s certainly what all your photos look like. His photos are the definition of uninspiring. No story, no feeling, no life, no thought. Just a random photo taken with the money he’s rort from his site.

  • Renan Duarte April 6, 2017 3:46 pm

    Well, I don’t know if this comment will be read in 2017. I am from Brazil and, as much beginners, I’ve read Ken’s website often, until I disagreed with most of his opinions.

    I am 25 years old living in technological years; of course I appreciate high-tech and I strongly believe that cameras’ evolution is coming for our own good. But Ken doesn’t. As you say in your text, he’s always criticizing the evolution of cameras, what makes me think he would like us all to be photographing as in the last century.

    I also saw his pics one day and I was hugely disappointed. I thought someone who has a certain fame in the internet, would be better in creative photography. Come on, my mom takes better shots using iPhone 6 than this guy using high-tech cameras. That’s all. Some time later I discovered that most people think the same as I do and I was relieved.

    Thanks for sharing your opinions, Michael.

  • Fernando April 25, 2017 12:06 am

    Hell o, in my case one point for KR is that two times (in different times) I emailed him asking opinions about some cameras and he responded both. How many well known guys that receive thousands of emails etc do that?

    -Regarding this article; first I do not not who shoot these photos but DO NOT look good; totally processed.
    I think that many here are in the need for “organic”. Best photos are not images or takes; have to be organic, but seems like here all love digital, bland and all this new stuff.
    The cameras mostly are a rat race.
    BUT MOSTLY the fact is that is ALL in the post production, (now with all that overuse of dynamics and high keys…)
    If you want quality, real difference and real photos STILL you need a medium format camera; that equals to have a 250MP digital camera…think about it.

  • Richard May 2, 2017 10:18 pm

    When I bought my first digital camera (a D700), I read Ken Rockwell’s site. Having no experience with all those menu settings, I followed his advice.

    It didn’t take long to learn that any in-camera JPEG saturation level setting above neutral resulted in blown out reds where details could not be recovered.

    I learned about RAW files from another source, tried different settings, and realized Rockwell either knows nothing or deliberately misleads readers for fun.

    I recovered from using his website and feel sorry for new photographers who get sucked in and think he’s an expert.

  • Elliott Shannonhouse May 3, 2017 6:47 am

    I agree with the last paragraph of your article, and feel that should have been the thrust of it…not slamming Ken Rockwell. I found the article too much of a troll job, although you are kinda nice about it, but it’s still personally attacking him. I think you could have made your point less offensively. You kind of set yourself up as some kind of guardian of the young photographer at Ken’s expense. The most awkward aspect is seeing “Why Ken Rockwell is Bad for Photography” on my google search while googling Ken Rockwell. That’s too hating for my taste. I use Ken’s site to see his reviews of old German cameras and I’ve found his outlook perfectly acceptable regardless of whether I agree with him. He said a retina Ia was useless. I have one and I love using it BECAUSE it is difficult. So what? It’s not anyone’s job to protect me from people who have different outlooks or opinions. The saddest part of this whole article is the guy who commented that he was going to donate to Ken and now was not because of your article. Ugh!

    • Kenneth Hoffman July 28, 2017 5:13 pm

      Rockwell has an irritating style about him that makes a bad first impression. It begins with a suffocating overuse of personal pronouns. It’s always MY Canon this or MY Nikon that. I, me, my and mine. I’m sure you know at least one person like this, and can’t get away from them fast enough.

      It was so irritating that I emailed him suggesting (politely) that he re-think this style of writing. What I got in return was a thin skinned, snarky reply which included ‘So hat should I do, refer to it as THE Canon or THE Nikon’. To which I replied ‘That would be a good start’.

      Personally attacking him? There are times when something that appears to be a personal attack is really constructive criticism. Something someone needs to hear about how they project themselves, and they need to hear for their own good so they know how others might see them. The way he received my humble effort causes me to conclude he might be a self centered jerk. Pity

  • Eamon May 8, 2017 12:46 pm

    All of the KR defenders out there need to grasp something: if KR did not intentionally provoke and invite the criticism he receives (that which defenders often mis-characterize as “hate” / “bashing”), you would never have heard of him or even know he exists. You play his victim card for him, and it helps him earn his living via affiliate link click throughs and purchases.

  • JK May 8, 2017 1:19 pm

    Short version for beginning photographers: Leave the gear collections and lab coat at home and get out and take lots of pictures dammit!

    Ken Rockwell is a subjective reviewer in a world full of subjective reviewers. I don’t see what the big deal is with Rockwell as one can find a plethora of other (mostly subjective) opinions elsewhere.

    Or, to Michael’s other point, one can learn how to objectively quantify the peeping of pixels by lab techs with a microscope within the hallowed halls and sterile labs of DP Review. As if “advanced” photography is about the ability to objectively measure the deltas of equipment. The DP forums are full of those that have graduated from that school and most of their photography reflects that result: technically solid but lacking any emotional response. Good (some) pictures but uninspiring. In my opinion, the anemic DP Review “camera lab” philosophy is just as bad, if not worst for the impressionable new photographer then some guy providing reviews based on subjective opinion.

    For beginning photographers, I would recommend avoiding the “gear heads” like Rockwell and the objective but soulless DP Reviews (especially the forums) all together and look for those that inspire and practice duplicating what they have done with light and composition. At the end of the day, neither the latest gear nor obsessing about lab tests will ultimately make you a good photographer.

  • JK May 8, 2017 1:41 pm

    I forgot to add, when I need a subjective gear review based purely on strong opinion, I’ve graduated to the “other Ken”:


  • James Cochrane June 1, 2017 4:55 am

    It’s not the camera…

  • Niki June 5, 2017 11:03 am

    I think since the internet has started, millions of people now can put their opinions in this big, virtual world. Some are technicians (like me), some are artists (like me) and some are both (like me) – we all are whatever we are.

    We all need to learn, HOW to read news, reviews, opinions, … and yes, e.g. a lens is a dry and basically technical object, can also be a kind of a technical fetish object to someone or just a necessary evil, an esthetic piece of engineering, the weight can be important, or the diameter, the smallest aperture, the colour, and… maybe it is important, if your best friend also own it or not.

    Ken Rockwell puts his obviously borrowed lenses into his light cube, copy/past some transmission curves and data from the manufacturer and writes, if he liked it or not and if someone should get it or not. Maybe he has fun to do it, or he gets money out of it, I don´t know.

    Finally we only can ask ourselves or God (later) what´s good or what´s bad. We also can ask Ken or Michael or the man or woman from our local foto shop. Read 10 opinions and then make your own decition. I read a lot before buying things, but the best way to find out what is good or not for ME, is to try it yourself.

    But you all know that. ,)

  • Stuart July 15, 2017 3:15 pm

    Ken Rockwell is to photography what WWF wrestling is to combat sports – that’s to say much of what he says and does is pure macho-airhead posturing. What bother’s me most about Ken’s televangelist approach to pushing opinions is the small subtlety of selling lies by proxy of his bullish and immutable belief that his word is gospel.

    Speaking of dishonesty, buying gear and returning it repeatedly it is parasitic. The losses incurred by this sort of practice gets passed off to everyone else.

    Finally asking for donations is fine if it wasn’t so evident he lives a luxury life with a nice house, nice cars, nice vacations and plenty nice personal effects (check his family photos – hardly scraping by is he).

    If he wasn’t reviewing gear he’d be selling religion – I have zero respect for Ken.

  • Kenneth Hoffman July 28, 2017 5:02 pm

    The first thing that turned me off about him is his overuse of personal pronouns. It’s always MY Canon this or MY Nikon that. It was so irritating that I emailed him suggesting (politely) that he re-think this style of writing. What I got in return was a thin skinned, snarky reply which included ‘So hat should I do, refer to it as THE Canon or THE Nikon’. To which I replied ‘That would be a good start’.

    The other thing that he’ll ‘review’ some camera, and extol it virtues, and when a competitor comes out with something similar, he’ll ‘review’ it and make sure he throw in some crack about how lousy the first (and competitive) item in comparison.


    He ‘reviews’ the Nikon D600 and begins with this gushing comment:

    “The Nikon D600 is Nikon’s best digital camera ever, at any price.

    The D600 has better image quality than any of Nikon’s professional cameras like the $6,000 D4, and the D600 is the smallest and lightest full-frame digital camera ever from Nikon. The D600 has the best ergonomics and handling of any Nikon DSLR.”

    Then along comes the Canon 6D and he opens with this. Notice the shot at the Nikon at the end.

    “The Canon 6D is the world’s second-best DSLR regardless of price, right behind the very similar Canon 5D Mark III. If you’re in the market for a full-frame DSLR for ultimate technical quality and super-fast autofocus for action, but don’t want to pay extra for (or carry the weight of) the 5D Mark III, the 6D is about 95% of the 5D Mark III for a lot less money. I own both, and see and feel very little difference between them. (I also own the Nikon D600, which is inferior).”

    I have neither camera and thus am not concerned about either. But Rockwell does this all the time, and you do not have to dig deep to find other examples.

    As far as the persona he projects, he comes across as whiny and thin skinned, and those who challenge him do so at their own risk. Seems like a person with few friends.

  • Benson August 5, 2017 11:38 pm

    If Ken Rockwell has generated such heated debate and thousands of comment posts, clearly he is doing something right. I have not been to his website in at least two or three years, but will have to check it out again.

  • Claudio August 21, 2017 9:04 pm

    The power of Ken Rockell is in The How Take Better Pictures link..


    For me the most important teaching is that Photography is not a way to reflect reality but a way of art.
    Another important teaching is the camera doesn’t matter. The more capable equipment the more possibilities

  • PhotoGrapher August 26, 2017 12:22 pm

    Mr. Rockwell is indeed controversial. I did rely on his reviews when I purchased my first DSLR about 10 years ago. At the time I thought he knew his stuff, but as I got deeper into the art of photography, I came to realize he knows the technical ins and outs of cameras and lenses, but I have never seen any proof of him being an excellent photographer. The sample photos he uses in his reviews are just snap shots. More recently he posted some better photos on the landing page of his site, that I can speculate are what he considers his best work. I personally think they are average, but then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One thing for sure about Mr. Rockwell is that he is quite opinionated.

    When Nikon made the first news splash about the D850, I had to look up what Mr. Rockwell had to say about it. In his view, at best it would be an incremental model (keeping the 36 MP sensor of the D810), and at worst Nikon would fail to deliver anything. When Nikon made the official announcement of the D850, and while the internet was flabbergasted with the news, Mr. Rockwell quietly edited his post and replaced his opinion with camera specs and published photos of the camera (never giving credit to the source of the photos but with his own water mark). I am sure he was eating crow while doing so, but never admitted it publicly. The page is still peppered with his opinion though. While most people wound round up the 45.7 MP resolution to 46, Mr. Rockwell left it at 45 MP. He does list all the new features in the camera, but in the “Good” section that follows that list, he only mentions the crop modes, while in the “Bad” section he lists things that many would question (Who would miss CF cards these days? And how many pros would miss a built-in flash?).

    Cheers to Mr. Rockwell, for one way or another he enriches the internet content (one man’s trash is another’s gold, and vice versa). His site, like many around, have to be taken with a grain of salt… or a few pounds, as the case might be.

  • RKP August 30, 2017 9:23 am

    I have been using D80 with kit lens (non VR 18-135mm and sigma zoom/macro lens). So Far, happy, but feeling bit behind as compared to modern day bodies. I do see, it doesnt get that great clarity on night time long expo shots. I am looking to upgrade the body, please suggest what should be my next step (D850, 750 or 7500).

  • tom rose September 18, 2017 6:26 am

    Anyone with a shred of intelligence can distinguish between Ken Rockwell A, dispenser of correct, valuable and useful information and advice and Ken Rockwell B, tongue-in-cheek, opinionated, wind-up merchant.

    KR version A is helpful and KR version B Is easily ignored so, on balance, his contribution to the world of photography is positive, as is his contribution to the world of entertainment.

  • David October 23, 2017 5:10 pm

    I don’t disagree with much of your analysis, but I find the “bad for photography” over-the-top hyperbolic. When I read his reviews, I bolt straight for the purely subjective. What I don’t need is yet more brain numbing number crunching analysis, and all the other technical gobbledygook that bloats too many photography resources. Yet another advertiser driven website or magazine trying to sell me yet more stuff when I’m just trying to corral the stuff I already have into doing what I’m trying to do. The entire industry is hyper focused on telling you the “what” instead of the “why” and that is a great part of what I like about his site. If you actually got rid of everything in the world of written photography media that is truly “bad for photography,” there would be many, many more people out taking pictures and fewer sitting around reading and coveting all the expensive junk they don’t own.

    Ditch the bag o’ lenses, the tripod, the lens covers, the megapixels, the this, that, and the other thing. In fact, ditch most of written photography media–the blogs, websites, magazines–itself. Get out and take pictures. I find that vastly more refreshing than being told to go buy more junk.

    One of my favorite sentiments, though I’m paraphrasing: Women tend to be better photographers than men, because women are looking at what they’re seeing, and men are looking at what they’re holding. I like that observation.

    As far as the “return fraud,” that is complete nonsense. It is not a crime (I’m a lawyer, but I’ll spare you the lecture on why it isn’t a crime) and it’s not even unethical. It’s business; it’s a consensual arrangement between merchant and consumer. So my wife comes home from Nordstrom with five dresses that are candidates for an upcoming event, fully intending to return most if not all. Three days later after her home fashion show, four go back. Not a crime, sorry. Not fraud. I trust him doing that WAAAAAAY more than I do a review from a magazine that is beholden to Nikon, Canon, Sony…etc for advertising dollars, or some gearhead reviewer who gets his stuff for free or discounted. I’m also glad he’s willing to do that legwork because I don’t have the patience for it, life’s too short and I’m only ever going to use one camera at time.

    And since he talks endlessly about B&H, Adorama and Crutchfield, they obviously know this is happening and can only be presumed to encourage it. It works for them because they get a lot of sales from his reviews, and may even have some formal relationship (known as a “contract”) with him. But even if not, if they objected they could do something about it very easily. (I’m pretty sure they don’t need well intentioned bloggers to look out for them.) Instead, they give him a small cut from sales to folks who click through to their sites from his blog. And there are links to their sites on EVERY page. They are NOT feeling–or being–defrauded. And the manufacturers LOVE it because it gets them no risk exposure and reviews. The sales they get are cheaper than the prostitution that magazine reviewers are subjected to as well. (As much as I like “N Photo” magazine, I’m pretty sure I’ve never read an objective review of a Nikon product there, or even a subjective off-the-cuff opinion.)

    I also glean from reading his material that he keeps a lot of what he purchases, and that if he finds something that is better than what he has, he’ll keep it. But accusing him of “return fraud” or saying he’s committing a “crime” or being “unethical” is just a cheap shot. And it’s not even an uninformed cheap shot because, if you’re honest, you’d have to admit that you understand the relationship all too well.

  • Matt November 6, 2017 5:24 am

    There are no facts in a review, there’s only personal opinion.

    You can check stats yourself if you want “facts” (whatever that is). Reviews that get to the point and express personal opinions, are honest reviews.

    You may not agree with the reviewer, but that doesn’t mean he’s “dangerous” as you call it.
    It’s dangerous to think that there is a single correct review. There are as many reviews as there are reviewers.

  • Finnish Wolf November 7, 2017 7:52 am

    So what? If you ask ten different people about photography, you get ten different answers. I bought my dream camera (Minolta CLE with 40 and Leitz 90 mm) in 1983 and I still use it and like it, but I’d be very hesitant to recommend it to anyone else. If we follow each and every recommendation, we end up using all our money and getting nervous breakdown and never having time to take any photos!

  • Grizzled New Englander November 20, 2017 1:53 pm

    If you read Ken’s About page, http://www.kenrockwell.com/about.htm, you’ll learn how to read his site. The page contains statements like:

    ‘This website is a work of fiction, entirely the product of my own imagination and personal opinion. To use words of Ansel Adams on page 193 of his autobiography, this site is my “aggressive personal opinion,” and not a “logical presentation of fact.”‘


    ‘I feel like the Forrest Gump of photography…’


    ‘I’m a big kidder and am always fooling around. I think I’m a seven year old who’s managed to sneak into a grown-up’s body. I have enough enthusiasm for an entire class of second graders.’

    Ken doesn’t take himself too seriously, and neither should you. When he says outlandish things, I think he has tongue firmly in cheek. On the other hand, there is a lot of useful information on his site, which is largely well-written, and well laid out. It is very easy to find the subject you’re looking for on his site.

    I am not a professional photographer, but an “advanced amateur.” By profession I am an optical engineer, so I don’t put much stock in his technical arguments. That said, they are often not too far off base.

    So I do occasionally refer to his site, but it’s kind of what I imagine reading the bible is like – you reject the majority of it as old and obsolete, or opinionated nonsense, but learn from the few nuggets of wisdom that lie within.

    Therefore I think his site has value, if you learn how to read it.

  • Brett November 26, 2017 4:30 pm

    I just happen to come across this website. Not really photography related but I knew Ken back in my college days. Actually, I lived a few doors from him in the same dorm building at SUNY @ Stony Brook. He was a sharp guy back then, I believe majoring in electrical engineering. At the time I owned a couple of coin operated video games that I had on campus to help offset my school expenses. One day, someone vandalized one of my machines by pouring some sort of soda down the back of the unit. Circuit board shorted out and the game was broken. I asked Ken if he thinks he could fix it. He told me to try and get a set of schematics for the game. I was able to get the schematics and sure enough, Ken was able to fix the game! It was pretty darn impressive.

  • Sasha December 10, 2017 8:29 pm

    We share a very similar view of MR. Rockwell. I read his review of Voigtlander 35mm f1.4, and the entire time he kept comparing it to a Leica lens that cost six times as much. Yes, I understand the sumilux is more expensive, sharper, bla, bla, bla. Don’t care man. The entire review seemed condescending and to be honest with you, I never even finished it. It pissed me off. I was a little bored and I typed “I hate Ken Rockwell” (hahahaha) and your page came up. I’m glad I am not the only one who thinks this guy is a sham.
    Disclaimer: I don’t rally hate him, I just dislike him….

    • Bob Jaskolka December 12, 2017 12:45 pm

      Didn’t YOU just write an article using only YOUR opinion? I’ve raised my children, no matter the subject, to read/learn as much as possible.,.THEN, make up their OWN minds. Usually, it’s a combination of 2 or more oinions that help them be comfortable in their endeavors. Then again, that’s just MY opinion. Thanks!

  • John Sciacchitano December 12, 2017 10:34 pm

    I had a bad case of lens acquisition syndrome. Ken’s articles helped me sort out which lenses I thought I REALLY needed, versus which lenses I would most likely actually use, and which lenses would be redundant had I bought them. He has compiled the history of many lenses, which has also helped me in my purhases.

  • Thomas Nielsen December 16, 2017 4:14 pm

    Ken is a dividing figure – clearly knowledgeable, but also condescending. Ken, on one hand states correctly that pixel count and gadgetry wont produce good photography – yet on the other hand makes sure to let you know that your new Sony a6300 is not for serious work but rather for vacation pics and having fun. That is not only contradicting, but totally wrong. Think of photography that changed or captured the world, look at amazing stories told and scenery captured, and you’d realize that this happened every decade for the last 100 years – it was never about about the camera, but the photographer using no more than a “good enough” device at the time.

    However – I went to Ken Rockwells gallery, to see those incredible skin tones and color renditions that only real cameras can produce……and see mostly over saturated pretty picture imagery devoid of subtlety.

    Ken, if you read this: You deserve everyone reading and taking guidance from your reviews donating. So why on earth self-sabotage your efforts by your condescending opinions of splitting photographers into amateurs vs professionals based on their choice of equipment. Just bad business my friend.

  • Steve B January 13, 2018 4:44 pm

    Firstly assume these stunning images of US city-scapes are by Michael Muraz, ‘cos they don’t seem to be accredited. Secondly, I’m on this site having just read Ken Rockwell’s review of the Sony PZ16-50mm kit lens, the only good review of this lens I’ve read so far. I am the bloke that bought a new A6300 and I own that lens. I thought KR might be slightly bonkers and wondered what the rest of the world thought…if I was taking advice on which wire to cut (the blue one or the green one..?) think it may well be Michael’s…

  • Gary January 22, 2018 1:46 am

    As we say in New Mexico, “Spot ON”. Everything you say about KR is true.
    Having owned and used 100’s of film cameras, I find his so called reviews mostly bogus rants. Pseudo-science at best, ego gratification at the worst. Broken watch is right twice a day. 😉

    alumni of chapman & brooks institute

    ps; your b&w photos posted are quite good.

  • AdrenalineJunky January 31, 2018 3:14 am

    Hey, thanks for this article. I followed Ken Rockwell for a few years. And you’re right. Not everything he says are useful to individuals, especially just starting out. But he does have some shrewd advice like investing in lens.

  • charun11 February 6, 2018 7:18 pm

    Have to admit, I was taken in by this at first too. But like you I like to experiment, and as time passed, my experience simply told me that much of what he was saying just wasn’t accurate. I’m finally getting my first FX camera and at least now I won’t make the same mistakes that I did getting my 5200 and 7200.

  • Stephen March 5, 2018 2:18 am

    I think you’re being way to kind and tolerant defending your article against some of the Rockwell fan messages.
    Problem with Rockwell is that he comes across as knowledgeable.
    I saw one comment saying his article on the 7 Levels was pure comedy gold. No, it’s not. It was meant to be serious.
    It’s an awful article – badly written and condescending.
    And therein lies the problem – people believe what he says – or at least take it at face value without questioning.
    That’s where you article is very helpful – always look for a second opinion – or a third.
    But most of all – steer clear of Rockwell.
    Awful, misleading stuff – no matter how nice a spin you try and put on it.

  • Steve Bootsy March 5, 2018 10:32 am

    An interesting article and point of view, just like Ken himself. He is entitled to his opinions based on his experiences in photography as are we all. I must admit I used to always look on his website every time a new camera/lens was released as I use Nikon gear and Ken seems very biased towards Nikon IMO. I did find that basically every new Nikon DSLR was the greatest ever! Nowadays I like to look at lots of different sites to gauge opinion on photo kit. I mainly look on YouTube at a variety of vloggers and it helps when you can see image/video samples from them too. Dpreview, DKZone, DXOmark & e-photozine, Camera Labs, and others are useful. Plus I can look on Flickr & other image sharing sites to see sample images from a wide variety of photographers.

  • Elo (@elosim) April 23, 2018 11:33 am

    I’ve been reading KR’s site for 10 years now, since I was in the market for my first DSLR. Despite 40 years of shooting SLR, I found a lot of help and advice on his site. I give him credit for a number of things:

    – Product choice: Nikon D40 with an SB400 flash and an 18-200mm VR zoom together with the 18-55mm kit lens. Perfect choice. Next up was the D7100 and the cheap 35mm for low light.
    – He has ‘saved’ me from the gear acquisition syndrome and 1000’s of dollars. I have what I need and not more. It’s about the photographer, not the camera! YOU create the picture, the camera is only a tool.
    – He has saved me immense amounts of time (and money) by my learning that pixels are not photographs. It is the human eye that determines the quality of a photograph, not your computer.
    – He has the best product shots in the business
    – He gives you tons of practical advice, including warning you about buying things you don’t need (often very expensive stuff) to make great photos.
    – He opened up my world to bounce flash and lots of other small and big things.

    Obviously you are a person looking for perfection and truth, needing facts and ‘proof’ to form your single-minded opinions. It’s about you trying to controlling what cannot be controlled 100% – what can anyway? So when somebody comes along with another point of view your own world gets upset now that you have all the perfectly proven scientific facts. No wonder, you have no energy to revise your strong and deeply cemented opinions. Actually I find you both condescending and narcissistic.

    But maybe you’ll also learn someday, that you learn all the way through life. Being obsessed with facts and objectivity, you probably know that photography literally means “painting a picture”. In other words, it’s a creative crafts. Not a pixel peeping computer optimization exercise. You’ve found the truth, you think! Guess what, there is no objective truth!

    Horrified by a product review? How can a person be ‘horrified’ by something as innocent as simple as a product review? Very good SEO – like it’s not because the website is any good that it pops up on the first search page – your implication being its only because he uses clever tricks to fool Google’s search algorithm and not because the website is good and generates a high level of traffic=it’s popular and thus ranks high at Google.

    About your particular rants:

    Returning products: perfectly legal and ethical, he even has their permission. Why not? He has an affiliate program with the stores from where he gets his products for review: Adorama, B&H etc. How many people don’t order two or three sizes of a new pair of jeans online and return the products that don’t fit?
    Reviews reflect personal preference and opinion: of course they do, likes/dislikes are not scientific facts, we’re all different with different needs. There is no formula for perfection, only your own. And yes, I also actually prefer smaller file sizes for most shots. No one needs 11 MP for everything. Obviously, that doesn’t work for your needs as an architect photographer but for most ‘normal’ photography that’s a very valid opinion in my world.

    Lenses on adapters – what proof or facts do YOU provide that it works well? And again, you think this is about hard core facts and again this is a subjective world.
    Narrow-minded opinion: Ok, you disagree with KR, but I get his point. Which basically is: the Sony A7RII, being mirrorless, has a few minuses compared to a high-end DSLR from Nikon/Canon for the kind of work KR does. When you browse the web, you meet the ‘hobbyists’ all over the place: forums and comment sections. Perhaps you’re the one who is narrow-minded? Your comments about Russian cameras and American hands are just plain stupid. Again he has a very valid point: that the camera, at least for his kind of work, lacks finesse and precision in certain situations and that ergonomics and handling could be better. A poor grip is rather nice to know about if you consider buying the camera. Message – hold it in your hands before buying or make sure you can return it!

    KR living in a different world: Or maybe you do? Maybe we all do? I don’t think pixel count matter to most people. Where are YOUR proof and facts now? What kind of people are you talking about: smartphone shooters, family fathers shooting events, serious amateurs, semiprofessionals. All to their own. For most people most of the time 6MP is more than enough. And no, only in very extreme situations would you maybe, perhaps, need super high ISO.

    FF vs APS-C – ‘No facts here’ – again you think this is a scientific experience. From what I gather, there is no discernable gap between the two sensor sizes anymore, unless you peep the pixels at 200% or more while nobody can tell the difference in the real world. Even micro ¾ are fine. I have researched this as I’m about to buy my first mirrorless camera. Again for your needs I can see a small point if your photo is going to cover a wall. But then, perhaps you should upgrade to medium format, a Hasselblad or something similar. I agree once more with KR – the pictures are the same, operations and controls are better on FF.

    Jaw (JPG vs RAW): Sorry, but I am completely behind KR on this one. He himself acknowledges that in very special circumstances or for special jobs, RAW might give some advantages. There are many professional photographers that don’t bother with RAW and many publishers only accept untouched JPG’s. For the great majority of camera buyers this is very sound advice.
    As one pro put it: RAW to JPG in Adobe is comparable to having a fancy dinner in a high class restaurant but you insist on doing the cooking instead of the professional chefs.
    I have done several tests on ‘normal’ shots. Edited the RAW file to my liking only to find out that the algorithm inside the camera did a better job producing the JPG than me.
    A major misunderstanding is that you cannot edit JPG or that opening and closing a JPG will degrade it over time. A final example I saw recently: a guy with a perfect photo in the woods with a small creek in the middle. He used RAW editing to ‘open up the shadows’. Fine, but the edited photo didn’t look real with the shadows ‘opened up’. I also frequently see people complaining that Adobe RAW hasn’t released the profile for their new camera – so again KR has a point.

  • tom rose June 10, 2018 9:24 am

    The only stupidity is having a preconceived notion of what Ken Rockwell “ought” to put on his site, then being annoyed because he does not conform to your pre-conceptions.

    He is quite up-front about his intention to occasionally mix things up a bit.

    It is true that tech details on camera and lenses can be found on manufacturers sites, but Rockwell presents them in a more easily accessible form.

    His articles are usually witty or interesting or useful or all three.

    Some of the things he says seem outrageous at first, but when you think about them he is usually right.

    I happen to think that his photos are too saturated, but that is a matter of taste.

    The only think I object to is that when a new “best ever” camera in some category or other appears that he does not go back and edit the pages for the previous holder.

  • Gabriel June 12, 2018 7:33 am

    Your criticism is really shallow (as pointed out by others already) and irrelevant. You say it’s unethical to buy, review and return, but have you considered the free marketing that the camera sellers (including the local store) enjoy from this? This is a huge benefit for them.

    I’ve enjoyed Ken Rockwell’s blog for years, including his spot-on and unique recommendations. I will certainly draw my own conclusions, as most people do when they read a blog.

  • Dave Kaufman July 14, 2018 1:40 am

    Any review, but its very nature is subjective. Your article about Ken is itself subjective. Frankly, I get a sour taste in my gut whenever I read a subjective opinion of another person’s subjective opinion. And to be blunt, your headline. “…is bad for photography” is merely your subjective opinion. There are some of us who simply enjoy photography and have an interest in someone’s professional opinion. Ken does provide actual sample pictures so we, not you, can determine for ourselves if the camera or lens does what we want it to do. I don’t know you and I don’t know Ken Rockwell, but I do know I just don’t like someone who takes a cheap shot at someone because he “subjectively” disagrees with him.

    • Robert DK July 22, 2018 11:06 am

      When you look at the sample pictures he provides, just be sure to note whether he enhanced them with Perfectly Clear software or not. He has been doing that fairly regularly for a few years now in many of his product reviews. I’ll also note that I have seen KR take many cheap shots at other photographers during the past ten years or so. Some of are far more accomplished than he. Many of the shots are those who are relative newcomers to photography.

  • Ben August 14, 2018 12:29 pm

    This is pure ego my friend. Let go of it, you’ll be much happier. Peace.

  • Moh November 14, 2018 4:06 pm

    He might or might not be all or some of the things you said, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s a way better photographer than you are (I’ve seen your work – faces out of focus, chromatic aberrations that are easily fixed in post, blown out windows – ever hear of bracketing? etc. etc.) I mean if I were to sit here and nitpick through your work, I could easily write a post thrice as long as you did on KR. I think you are missing the point here, he’s not trying to cater to folks like you, he’s trying to get more people out there behind a camera taking good shots, so why not concentrate on giving some good advice as opposed to knocking other people’s advice? Plus, the fact that you get paid for your work is in itself quite offensive to many professional photographers, so there you have it.
    Best of luck bud.

  • tom rose November 19, 2018 12:38 am

    He is far from stupid and his site is packed with plenty of good accurate advice for anyone that cares to engage their brain before agreeing with all the hate-mongers that say bad things about him. And anyone that cannot tell the difference between that, satire, straightforward technical data and opinion i a fool.

  • robdawes November 27, 2018 11:28 pm

    My take on reading this article is that Ken pissed you off in particular by not giving enough praise to a Sony camera that you are fond of. Ken has a style that seems rather off the cuff, one person speaking to another, and i think that is what makes it work for him. If you want Dragnet style “nothing but the facts”, then clearly his or yours, is not the place to be. I identify with a lot of the things he says. Sony irritates me in similar ways. What good is ISO 300000, if the picture is garbage? Why is 5000 AF points better than 50 if the 50 get a sharp past focus. So yes, his articles are very opinionated and any reader should judge a camera for himself if that is possible. You can see by most of the comments above that most people appreciate kens reviews. And im sure that burns your ass. Its so obvious that you had to attack someone personally and accuse him of being bad for photography. In my opinion, youre more guilty of that than he is.

  • Don Nathe January 4, 2019 8:35 pm

    KR, seems like people either like him or they don’t. Whatever your opinion, he is not a “Marvin Milktoast” type of person, he lets you know what he thinks. If I want sterile details about a camera, I go to the manufacturer’s website and get it. Download the manual, whatever. At the very top of the list KR is good at is encouraging and inspiring us to take pictures, to get familiar with the functions of the camera we have in your hands right now. We may not have the camera of our dreams but that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying photography. He helps make photography fun, which, I think is great. Along the way he tells us about different cameras, what he thinks the pluses and minuses are and so on. He also tells us what he would avoid and why. For me this saves a lot of time and expense and gives me a starting point when I want to research a product. I don’t know if he has a favorite brand or not, don’t read him for that. I think he is like Johnny Carson, who told of jokes about a lot of politicians, but you never really knew how he voted. Don’t see him really taking sides. If I were a professional photographer, would not read him, I’d be writing my own reviews instead.

  • Bryan June 3, 2019 8:37 am

    Dear Michael

    Nice marketing move. By talking trash about a fellow professional creates controversy and brings attention to your blog. Nice way to use the search engines to funnel KR traffic. Your a smooth operator. Bravo!

  • S.I June 9, 2019 5:35 am

    I quite agree with this article, Ken for years has been making a living passing off his often very biased and half baked opinions as fact. To know that he has been doing this using ethically questionable practices makes it even worse.

  • Matt June 12, 2019 11:02 pm

    When I got back into photography, Ken Rockwell was one of the first sites I started reading. However, I quickly found his writing style meant to take everything with a grain of salt. I actually enjoy reading his site. But, I also read http://bythom.com/
    Websites that have sponsors write too favorable to all products.

  • tribalcollection July 25, 2019 5:35 pm

    Someone was recently quoting Rockwell as some sort of purist in photography. The second photo of Half Dome from the front page of his website gallery (untouched by me) told me all I need to know. https://kenrockwell.com/gallery.htm

  • Peters Vecrumba September 28, 2019 9:01 pm

    Just ran across this.

    Michael, you perhaps fail to recognized that in the end, everything about photography is a matter of opinion. I’ve been seriously photographing since at least 1970, so trust me on this.

    I have followed Ken’s site on and off for many years, even purchasing a Voigtlander rangefinder in the days of film from him. Ken is a lover of photography and of all the tools that make it possible.

    So, to your grousings.

    Yes, he returns what he won’t use, but I expect that over the years he has bought enough equipment to stock a storefront. So, my opinion, I’d rather read a review by a true lover of equipment who keeps what he likes as opposed to the endless crop of dilettantes looking for handouts from manufacturers then opine based on, frankly, not a whole lot of expertise. AFAIK, Ken has been dealing with Adorama and B&H Photo for decades. (As have I, though mainly B&H, where I shopped when they were just a hole in the wall.) He’s not screwing anyone by returning. And there are still restocking fees, etc., so it’s not “free.”

    Choosing shooting resolution, “no one buys a $3,000+ 42MP camera to shoot at 6MP.” Why not? I got poster-size prints out of my 6MP Canon 10D. Most people who buy a $3,000+ camera who aren’t professionals are like rich spoiled kids in the “old days” whose parents bought them Nikon F Photomics, only for them to take “artistic” pictures of crap. Yes, really, I saw that myself in my photographic youth.

    To the Sony A7R II. There is a distinction between “hobbyist,” “serious hobbyist,” and “professional”–and what they notice. What you get out of your camera is limited by sensor MP, lens resolution, and output format. Most people won’t notice the difference between a mega-expensive full frame 35mm digital and an APS-C sensor camera. For the vast majority of us who do not have lenses which cost multiples of thousands of dollars, there is, in fact, no empirical observable difference worth arguing about in image resolution/quality between, say, a 24 MB full frame and 24 MB APS-C sensor.

    On handling, I have a number of Russian cameras. If you had a Russian camera and handled one, you’d know exactly what Ken means about handling and the feel of precision. There I am afraid it’s only Ken (and myself) showing our age. Don’t deride what you know not to speak about from experience.

    On RAW versus JPG, Ken right about who accepts what. Furthermore, a lot of manufacturer’s in-camera corrections are applied only to JPGs. Why apply corrections afterwards, manually, when the camera now does it for you? If you sift through test images carefully, for example, on dpreview.com, you’ll find the best-corrected in-camera JPGs out-perform RAW. That includes the Sony A7R II. When you’re on the clock, that counts.

    Ken’s opinions are not merely opinions, they are conclusions derived from years of experience. Respect the experience. The more you’re sure you know better, the less likely it is you do.

  • KR Evans September 29, 2019 9:49 am

    I am not sure I agree with several comments on the subjective/objective nature of review.There are so,many variables that are subjective like the touch and feel of buttons, wheels and joy sticks, comfort of the grip that they will never be a conscientious. On the objective side I do not think I have read one review that actually controlled the studies variables well enough, with enough detail, to be considered a scientific evaluation.
    In the end all that matters is the image and that like or dislike is truly subjective. Do what makes you happy!

  • Alan Hagberg October 9, 2019 10:23 am

    Wow! Ken Rockwell sure generates a lot of opinions about Ken Rockwell. I an easily agree with a lot of the criticism; I’ve been reading Ken’s website for at least ten years or more. It didn’t take long to figure out how to cherry-pick his site and his opinions for the what is accurate and useful. I have always disagreed with his stance on RAW vs. JPEG, but I have often recorded both (large/fine) formats when I have two memory slots. JPEGs are useful at times. Still, I always accepted that as his opinion and he is entitled to it.

    What I find valuable on Ken’s site is his information about cameras and lenses, as slanted as it often is; I always check his site for info before buying a lens or a camera. However, I always consult as many reviews and technical comparisons as I can find to see what information is corroborated by others, including DPReview, Thom Hogan, DxO, PhotographyLife and so on. Ken’s information and opinions have to be viewed with at least a small grain of salt, but much of it is accurate and useful, especially when concerning old lenses and cameras—hard to find info elsewhere.

    As for donating to Ken’s “growing family” I think he is doing much better than I am judging by what I discern are photos of his kids in his house and his car in the driveway. Apparently he loves what he is doing and isn’t making great sacrifices to do it. I appreciate his work for what it is and I think others could benefit from his example when creating websites that are designed strictly for commerce.

    As for his photography, it always serves to point out to me that I am a far better photographer than someone who has tens of thousands of readers and followers. As others have said he’s not an artist, perhaps mostly a technician only.

    And finally, as for buying and returning gear that he only uses to write a review, I think that is wrong and I agree with others who have said he should rent that gear, or buy it and keep it. It’s not fair to the rest of us who may need to make legitimate returns if people make frivolous purchases and frequent returns; it may drive the retailer’s prices up and it may limit the return policies that are often not liberal enough.

  • Fonzi October 11, 2019 10:58 pm

    “He has very good SEO, ….” What exactly do you mean by SEO? You assume everyone knows what SEO means. I am always disappointed with writers who use abbreviations with the assumption that it is a universally accepted abbreviation.It goes against a basic principle of composition in English language.Before using an abbreviation, it should have been used previously in its full meaning.Only then, may it be used later in writing. It should not be used initially, leaving the reader to guess or figure out what it means.When I come across the wrongful use of abbreviation in an article, I usually stop reading the rest of the article and jump straight to read the conclusion. Which I did with this article.

    Enough about my ranting with the wrongful use of abbreviation and to the subject matter of this article. My take on Ken Rockwell’s website is like it should be used as one of many opinions like other websites on photography gear. One thing I like about his website is that he is consistent in providing the image data on all photos he posts on his website.It gives you a better idea of the conditions in which he took the picture.That I find very helpful. Most other reviewers do not think it is necessary to include the image data in their reviews, which I find less helpful in their reviews. He also gives the MTF data on the lenses if you need that too.

    Like other commenters have said, when reading any recommendation from Ken Rockwell, you should take it with a pinch of salt. Just few years ago, he never reviewed 3rd party brand lenses on his website. I am surprised that recently, he is reviewing lenses from Tamron, Sigma and Tokina. I remember that just few years ago, when I purchased the first generation of Tamron 90mm F2.8 VC macro lens, Tamron 150-600mm VC lens and the excellent Tokina 11-16mm lens for crop cameras, I did not find any review on his website from those manufacturers. In fact, he recommended against buying any 3rd party brand lens when I went to his website in search of his take on lenses in those focal lengths made by Nikon and Canon. To his credit, he has come around to acknowledge that Tamron, Sigma and other brands have come of age, though he states that he cannot vow for their durability or compatibility with future generation cameras by Nikon or Canon.

    For a guy who apparently rides a Benz,BMW and fly a private plane (getting a pilot license and keeping it active is expensive ). I am thrilled that he is doing very well and really do not think he needs my “widows mite”.

    • mippy January 6, 2020 11:21 am

      SEO is as well-known an abbreviation by now as DSLR. If you come across an abbreviation you don’t know on the internet, it’s very very easy to look up what it means.

  • Fonzi October 11, 2019 11:29 pm

    Like I mentioned in an earlier comment, one of the things I find helpful in Ken Rockwell’s review is that for each picture posted, he includes the image data and lens information.Not many reviewers do that. The pictures you included in your article has none of those information. Ken Rockwell is very consistent in doing so and I appreciate him for that.As a hobbyist in photography I find it very interesting and informative having that information.The pictures you have included have none of that information, so I am guessing that the 2nd and 4th pictures were taken at slow shutter speeds but the aperture, ISO and focal length are all a mystery.So also the information on the lens/lenses you used are omitted. We all know that a lens can make a difference in the quality of a picture more than the camera does.All I can say is that you either have a steady hand or took the pictures on a tripod. Photography is an art for expression, so I love it when photographers post the image data along with their images.Better not to post than to post with no image data in my opinion!

  • Fonzi October 12, 2019 3:56 pm

    Ken Rockwell speaks in hyperbole. You do not take his words literally. Read his review on apple watch and you ask yourself, how did he determine that the apple watch is the most accurate, most legible and most functional watch of all watches out there? You read his review with humor and take what you like and leave out what you do not like?

  • Reed November 16, 2019 7:06 pm

    Click bait article!
    Congrats for all the attention and comments you got by issuing controversial statements about an icon of the photo world. At least you could have attacked a you tube clown like Fro knows …..It is always lesser people who gain by standing on the shoulders of giants ant issuing attacks on famous people hoping that some of that fame would rub on them. I had to register here to leave a comment, so another congrat on your perfidious strategy.
    I mean seriously who the fuck are you?, and why would anyone care about what you think?. You spoke of kr SEO, I landed on this opinionated, biased, and poorly researched bs article via your good seo. Several of your “objections” tell me you don’t seem to have a working knowledge of photography, you may be very technical, but there is a huge gap between that and the subjective reality, like for instance the handling of a Sony mirrorless, the lack of need of high mp camera for anything other than magazines or add campaigns or gigantic museum exhibits, like the many, many, pro event photographers who shoot only jpeg, like many real world experience who are miles away from the tech specs….
    While I can t condom his systematic gear returns, at least it means that unlike 99% of reviewers he owns nothing to companies sending him gear, gifting him gear, or paying him strait out for his reviews or endorsement, so he really can be objective in his own subjective way.
    And critiquing his photos, well at least he takes varied pictures. I looked at your portfolio, and wile they are well taken, they all look alike. I know portfolios have to show cohesion, but it looks like you only own a wide angle zoom, take the same kind of pics over and over and process them all the same way. I admit they are well done, but they are overly cold and scientific to me, I prefer a low res organic picture with character to an industrial slice of pixel peeper’s wet dream.
    I don’t always agree with kr opinions, but I respect them. I read that you won some awards, and I guess that you are a someone in your sub-specialty niche, but I encourage you to broaden your horizons, open you mind, and learn things from people like Ken Rockwell.

  • Andrew G February 10, 2020 1:53 pm

    What a pointless article. KenRockwell isn’t hiding anything. People pay him and click his affiliate links because he’s useful to them. The author here sounds jealous and fixated. Don’t you have photos to shoot?

  • rob g February 20, 2020 1:38 am

    Two things –

    1. Ken is not Norman 😉
    2. Ken has kinda frowned upon anything above 24MP, stating, too many pixels affect workflow. While that may be true for Ken and others, I have a tendency to believe that the more megapixels the better. I took some lightning photos @ 36MP and firmly believe I would not have captured as much detail as I did had I used a camera with less of a canvas.

  • Heywood Floyd May 23, 2020 4:23 pm

    Ken Rockwell is not only bad for photography, he often has no clue about the equipment he reviews. Case in point, he did a review of an old Mamiya Press camera which he panned as being flimsy, unreliable, and having terrible optics. None of which is true. He stated that their backs did not have dark slides, which is an absolute falsehood. Now anybody who has actually owned and used a Mamiya Press, Universal, or Super 23 will admit that they are slow and cumbersome (as are the Linhof, Graphic, and other technical/press cameras), but they, like other Mamiya professional cameras, are very soundly constructed, well, finished, and have excellent optics.

  • Lin J May 24, 2020 1:19 am

    I agree with some of your statements, but I have to note one thing: on his about page (https://www.kenrockwell.com/about.htm) he states clearly:

    “This website is a work of fiction, entirely the product of my own imagination and personal opinion. To use words of Ansel Adams on page 193 of his autobiography, this site is my “aggressive personal opinion,” and not a “logical presentation of fact.” I never intended it this way, but search engines found this personal information…”

    He tells you up front and without hesitation to take his words as a grain of salt.

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