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.