Digital Photography Review, the Universe's biggest camera review site and online photographer community, just announced that they are closing shop on the 10th of April. Sad News. (DP Review).

 My discovery of DP Review happened back around the turn of the century when there were far, far fewer equipment review sites and the ones that were out there were variable in quality. I think it was a guy named Phil Askey that started the whole thing back in 1999. But his reviews were just great and he really was running a one man show, more or less. 

The site was based in London and the writing was always great back then. And the understanding of photography (as opposed to mumbly faux physics of recent times) was deep and both technically and aesthetically well grounded. Professionals turning from film to digital depended on the site to parse out the best new digital camera gear and to learn best practices. It was the anchor for camera knowledge in the early years of digital adaptation.

Amazon bought the site in 2007, moved DPR's HQ to Seattle and watched it grow during the lead up to the peak year of digital embrace (and sales) back in 2010 or, depending on how you measure, 2011. After that sales of interchangeable lens cameras and their lenses dropped in quantity year by year. But as the reviews declined a bit in quality and scope (compared to Phil's stuff) the enthusiasm for the site's ability to build community (forums) and become a home for various rants and hot user competitions/debates between brands of cameras grew unchecked. As did eyeballs on the content. 

Even in current times I'll go and read a camera review of some model that's interesting to me. And being both the biggest photo gear oriented site on the web and the one connected at the hip to the world's biggest online retailer (Amazon: which, of course, sold cameras, lenses, accessories, etc.) the editorial staff of DPR got the first crack at the latest test gear, the latest beta gear and the latest gear, gear. So, readers got a heads up about new cameras as soon as humanly possible. Barring NDAs. What a privileged position to be in.

While I was put off by the endless bad information in the fora, and the rage that ensued and continued almost endlessly, I did find the industry press releases they published and the camera tests the new crew tried to put out still readable and sometimes informative. They lost me for a while with all the sturm und drang over "equivalence" but after a guy named Rishi left all that died down and became floor fluff. Background noise. Rant fuel.

While I will miss the site I think the effect on the world of photography will be much more profound. Think of this: Millions and millions of viewers every month came to the site to learn about new cameras, new lenses and new accessories. Most of these products were introduced via editorials which meant that the manufacturers were getting direct access to the world's biggest market for upscale cameras at no cost to them. Well, other than sending along some cheap swag and some review cameras. Even the camera reviews (unpaid by camera makers) were amazing free marketing for the camera industry in general.  By closing the site Amazon will be removing from Nikon, Sony, Canon and even Leica millions and millions of direct connections to potential (and proven) buyers of their goods. I predict that without DPRs crew priming the pumps and waving the flags of "new innovations" we'll see a noticeable-to-huge decline in camera and lens sales world wide. And none of the camera makers will want to step up their advertising placement budgets by millions and millions of dollars to replace the lost (free and global) reach. They've been attached to the free nipple of promotion for so long they may not even know how to effectively generate demand through other media. 

The ripple effects will be endless. Without DP Reviews reviews of new top-of-the-line cameras and the implied approval provided by those reviews people who still hear about the new gear might be more hesitant to buy. It's different buying an item that's largely unvetted versus buying a product that's been vouched for by a long running and mostly respected review site. No one wants to be bit from being and early adopter.

As camera makers' reach dangerously erodes so too will sales at local and regional merchants who also depend on DPR to trumpet new product arrivals. Many of these smaller stores exist precariously as it is. This may be the event that pushes many of them into insolvency...

And if my blog were a source of income I'd be leaping into action to come up with something to replace affiliate profit sharing because a decline in (free) world wide advertising and product awareness will definitely bring down sales and by extension affiliate cash, which represents a big part of site revenues. 

You may say that this will be temporary, just a bump in the road. And if sales had been hopping along well for the industry for the past ten years I might optimistically agree but you have to understand that the overall market for cameras (not phones...) has been in a yearly free fall since about 2013. Ten years of annually declining sales already. 

What was (is?) your experience with DPR? What do you think their closing will cause? Have I missed some mitigating facet that might actually benefit the industry? 

The funny thing is that this might just bolster the commercial market for actual photography. I'll have to think on that a while before I write more. 

Just thought I'd let you guys know.


Anonymous said...

I simply looove your ramt: “ They've been attached to the free nipple of promotion for so long they may not even know how to effectively generate demand through other media.” It may even be true - more or less. Big smile!


Michael Matthews said...

Well, it offers a big opportunity for someone ready to leap in and develop a replacement. A site which makes heavy use of YouTube content - including paid contributions from a roster of well-regarded YouTubers (oxymoron?) - could make big waves.

I hope that Phil Askey made a fortune selling off his original creation and that Jordan and Chris have been “exploring other opportunities”.

Dick Barbour said...

I'm very disappointed, as I'm sure many are. It's a shame that Amazon with all of its clout couldn't or wouldn't find a way to perpetuate the site under another owner. I'll mostly miss the information and camaraderie of the gear forums for the cameras I own. In addition to a few bad apples, there were a lot of good and knowledgeable people on them.
I see on PetaPixel that Chris and Jordan have already landed there, so we will still be able to see their usually entertaining and informative reviews.

Biro said...

Well, it appears Chris and Jordan are going to PetaPixel. So we'll see their material there. But I still think this is another symptom of the declining market for "real" cameras (as in not phones). Just as the automobile enthusiast magazines are disappearing as new cars and trucks are homogenized and dumbed down with electronic nannies, so too will camera and photography enthusiast sites as smartphones continue to replace interchangeable-lens cameras. The fact that enthusiast cameras will continue to soar in price as their sales decline will make the situation even worse. And, in the case of both cars and cameras, the general public will care not one whit. More's the pity.

David said...

Well the Medium format forum was civil and educational. I will miss that group of people. Hopefully they will move to an other good site, but where is still in the air.
The Sigma forum is looking for a new home as well, maybe even with Sigma.
The Science and Tech forum, had some good posts occasionally.
What is sad is the loss of historical tests and posts. I will have to see if I can copy some of the more useful macro posts.
I will miss some of the group discussions.
Micro four thirds moved a while ago to a better home.

Roger Jones said...

Well Hell, another one bites the dust. DPR was like a watering hole, you could sit around, and BS with like minded people, or different minded people, but we all talk photography which was good. We could find out new information and what was going on.
If it wasn't for DPR I would have never known that 2 people I use to shoot with back in 2000's have passed on in the last year. Maybe it's better not to know.

I don't know what to say, it's a very empty, numb, feeling, and yea it was Phill in the UK in 1999 who started DPR. I didn't know that Amazon took them over. That's so weird Amazon and Twitter controlled these information outlets. Better get my film cameras ready.

As for Jordan and Chris I really didn't find their reviews all that great, but I did find what was new or what was coming out interesting.

WOW, just WOW..............

EdPledger said...

I sometimes read DPR reviews of equipment, but there are multitudes of other reviewers online. Always ignore the ads. Do read the various forums to see photos being shared, questions about problems bandied about, and get exposed to odd lenses and techniques. Many very intelligent posters who share their knowledge, along with the rank beginners seeking assistance. It isn’t NPR or PBS, but a fairly open site to exchange opinions and ideas and the latest favorite photos. Too bad Amazon isn’t making enough money to satisfy their corporate coffers. Screw em. Amazon on my boycott list for a while.

Jon Porter said...

Such irony since Amazon helped many local camera stores go out of business. "Customers consider us a showroom to handle gear but then they order online" was a refrain I heard from several shop owners during their going-out-of-business sales. Now Amazon finds camera enthusiasts are reading DPR's reviews and articles but ordering from Adorama, B&H, Roberts and other large camera retailers you can call and speak to a knowledgeable person about photo gear.

Gato said...

I do wish the forums could somehow continue. I gained, and continue to gain, tons of info and ideas from them over the years. That's despite a few bad apples who made life less pleasant for everyone - a person can mostly learn to read past them.

I will less miss the main site. I have followed the site from the beginning, but these days I usually bypass the main and go straight to the forums I follow. Still, you are right that it will be a loss to the photo community.

In past years I followed 6 or 8 photo sites, but now the DPR forums and your blog are the only photo sites I follow on a daily basis. I check byThom and Petapixel a couple of times a week, but that's about it. Where will I waste my time now?

John Krumm said...

DPR is at the core of my photography experience. I bought a Canon G2 for a high school newspaper class I was teaching based on their review. I bought a couple early Fuji cameras (S5000 and F31 I think) also thanks to them. And I bought my first dslr, the Olympus 420, after reading the review on DPR. I used it like a true fanatic for the next few years. I also probably wrote a few novels worth of forum posts there, some good, some a total waste of time.

I don't like to see media shutting down. We don't have enough of it, especially organized media with paid staff. It's not the world I want, but it's the world Jeff Bezos and all his billionaire buddies want, and for now at least, it's their world.

Pete F said...

So sorry to hear this. DPR, Kirk and Michael Johnston are my go to photography sites these days. I remember when I transitioned to digital in the early 2000’s. My first serious digital camera was a Nikon 5700. There was a great Nikon forum; lots of instruction, encouragement and support. Since then DPR has been my primary source for industry news and new products. I can’t say how many times I’ve been asked for camera recommendations and sent people to DPR to do their research. I wasn’t aware that Amazon had bought it and can’t imagine that they thought it would drive enough Amazon sales to make it worthwhile. Would probably make a good case study for a business school class.

Anonymous said...

Greed wins again!

Steve B said...

I was really saddened when I got the e-mail from DPReview this morning. I enjoyed the camera and lens reviews, and particularly liked the videos that Chris & Jordan put out. The forums were really useful if you just ignored the occasional crazy person. Since I sometimes buy older cameras thru MPD or KEF or even eBay, I would go re-read the review before doing so. The worst part of this is obivously all the creative people of DPReview that are losing their jobs. I hope they are all able to find another place that will allow them to support themselves and give them the creative outlet they need.
But the fact that Amazon is just going to delete ALL of that - the forums, the reviews - all the articles - is really tragic and frankly maddening. There's no way to replace that once it's gone.
I was so depressed when I read that this morning that I had to go out and go for a run to lift my spirits

Alex Carnes said...

It's very sad news, although I saw it coming. Reviews of new stuff has been thin on the ground lately and old articles were recycled. I know this sounds grim but I interpreted it - rightly or wrongly, I don't know - as symptomatic of a slowing down and general loss of interest in the photography industry.

I suppose it is, in a way. Back in DPR's heyday circa 2010 there was a lot more going on, a much more rapid pace of development. Nowadays, the trickle of new gear tends to be iterative and as we all privately know, nearly all of it offers capabilities and functionality way beyond our actual requirements.

Still, it'll leave a big hole and I'm not sure who'll fill the gap - if anyone. I still have a subscription to Dig Lloyd's site, but I don't shoot Sony or medium format so a lot of the new content isn't particularly relevant to me. I'm not quite as interested in the sub-atomic side of things as I once was, either.

Maybe Ming Then will come out of retirement?!

Michael Matthews said...

Something tells me Ming Thein has no interest in returning to photography except for working occasionally for large, legacy clients and for his own watch business. But the last time I looked he was still footing the bill to maintain his entire website online as a resource for those interested. And the links to his readers’ forum gallery - filled with very interesting photography - were still live, assuming the contributor’s Flickr accounts remain available as source.

Derek S said...

Sadly this is what big corporates do - so much for all the claptrap about values and stakeholder relationships. DPR was valuable to all players in the market. Let's see how the manufacturers respond - or not. The market may be in decline but the need for this service goes on. So many of my Googled questions about camera settings, lens performance, known issues etc., led to DPR forums where an answer could be mined. I valued their written reviews, and I have also enjoyed the banter of Chris and Jordan on YouTube. Huge thanks and good luck to the DPR staff.

Alex Carnes said...

You're probably right. I loved reading Ming's articles and reviews even when I disagreed with him!

Ming shutting up shop and DPR closing are, I'm afraid, readily interpretable as symptoms of the death of photography. Even Dig Lloyd's musing about the impact of AI and the ease of creating highly convincing fake images with no need of expensive cameras.

I don't know. I hope I'm wrong but I think the writing is on the wall for photography.

Craig Yuill said...

DPReview has been one of my daily go-to websites going back to 2004. It became a social-networking site for me as much as a source of information. Where else could you network with users of Nikon 1 gear, sharing thoughts about equipment and techniques, and sharing photos taken with said gear?

A couple of posts from a respected member of forums on a couple of sites suggested that this is part of Amazon’s recently-announced aggressive layoff of 9000 workers. He figured that it cost Amazon as much as $3.5M to run the site, and that it operated at a loss. But I wonder how much in the way of sales will be lost by not having that site. Do the executives at Amazon understand the concept of a loss leader? Shutting down DPReview seems to me to be a very shortsighted decision. Amazon purchased the site. Did they even attempt to find a buyer?

I don’t know about others here, but in 2009(?) I found out about a certain site being hosted on Blogger after a certain photographer from Austin, Texas made a post on a DPReview forum about his review of the new Olympus E-PL2. I have been going to that site ever since. ;-)

adam said...

I mostly just watch the channel, I'm amazed that amazon are just deleting the site, because of the amount of traffic it must bring them, but if every other camera site has amazon links then they maybe aren't too bothered, could pretty much just be frozen and left browsable online

Frank Grygier said...


JC said...

I was more oriented toward Luminous Landscape than DPR, but LL sort of fell apart after Michael died, and so DPR became a source I'd check when camera shopping. Sad to see it go.

Anonymous said...

I’ll miss DPR’s more scientific approach in the form of the standardized test target for evaluating camera sensor performance. But you know what they say about “crying over spilt milk”! Stuff that I mourned for a time, then got over, includes photo.net, Steve’s Digicams, Luminous Landscape, rec.photo Usenet newsgroups, Compuserve, eWorld, the Apple Newton, Horlick’s malted milk tablets and the McDLT burger.

Jeff in Colorado

Ken said...

As long time DPR member since at least 2022, and as one of their forum moderators (FujiFilm FinePix), I am very disappointed in how Amazon has handled this. I can see how they can't justify pouring more cash into what probably has been losing money for them (with the overhead, staff, etc.); however, the decision to DELETE it is unacceptable. Surely, they thought about archiving it as read-only and letting it sit on the AWS infrastructure for very little cost annually. However, they didn't go this route. Just deleting this treasure trove of reviews, comparisons, technical specs and even the forums, which cover the evolution of digital since the very beginning, it akin to burning down the "Photography Library of Alexandria".

Personally, I am angry at this point. Sure, shut it down but DON'T DELETE IT. Like you, I do worry about the impact of sales and how that may have a ripple effect on the industry. Bloggers and YouTubers now are the kings. There are other "review sites" and sources of news (ex. PetaPixel), but none have that massive reach and none are the repository of knowledge that DPR is today. To me, the failure of DPR to survive would be similar to the Wall Street Journal being shut down in news industry.

Anonymous said...

One thing to point out is that DPReview was free. I'm surprised that Amazon didn't try to make it a subscription site like Amazon Prime or Amazon Music Unlimited. But I wonder how many who are bemoaning the loss of the site would have paid a yearly fee. How much is that information worth?

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

The sad truth is that companies early on trained consumers to expect so much for free. Like the site you are posting on right now.

Richard said...

Hello Kirk.

You ask, "What was (is?) your experience with DPR?"

I stopped visiting DPR a few months ago. I was becoming increasingly annoyed by the atmosphere on the forums I frequented.

I didn't use DPR for the reviews - I haven't read a review in many years - not interested in what someone else thinks of a camera ("terrible ergonomics, etc.) Yeah, right, for someone with huge hands.

Not interested in the charts comparing gear.

My routine for many years has been: if the press release on a new camera/lens sounds like it would fit into my setup, I purchase (or rent) the equipment and test for myself.

Nonetheless, I'm saddened that DPR shutting down, for I realize that many people have benefited from the site, and enjoy the "social" atmosphere in the forums.

shinndigg said...

Very sad indeed... Thanks to many, many kind forum members, I have been able to improve my photographic skills. Well, and a lot of chimping. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed the reviews, and always enjoyed sharing an image here or there. That is what art is about for me...sharing and seeing other peoples images.

FrugalFilmmakers said...

DPReview has been an all-in-one resource for photography for a very long time. I started in the very early days reading the sight. It has been a goto site and will be missed. But, we have seen the Photo mags like Pop Photo, Modern Photo and others disappear over the years is we should not be surprised. Much of the information and reviews have moved to YouTube include the channel I review for: Personal-View.com. We like the smaller sites don't get the stuff before it is released or have the contacts with the major manufacturers and get their stuff. The big Channels on YT do get this equipment but there is not just one source like DPReview.

One of the reasons sites like this are closing because the clientele is changing. The number one camera on Flickr is the iPhone. Manufactures of photography equipment are selling a lot less gear than they used to because of the smartphone. I have have found that I am using my iPhone more and my "Pro" cameras less.