Policy and Disclaimer
Products reviewed on this site are usually my own property or on loan from other photographers. On the rare occasion where equipment is on loan from a distributer or retailer it is returned promptly after testing and evaluation. It would be rare for any goods to be in my possession for more than 1 week.
Where possible I will review items that I currently own, have owned previously or am about to purchase.
Outside paid commercial photography assignments I always pay for my own travel and accommodation when visiting trade shows. If a visit to a manufacturer, distributor or retailer has been organized it is at my own expense.
Other than the odd freebie (i.e., branded caps, t-shirts, pins, etc) I have never been offered nor have sort cash or gifts from any manufacturer or distributor who's product I've reviewed.
I have run and operated the travel photography guru site and, prior to that, a similar site under a different name for several years. During that time the only form of advertising on those sites related to my own classes, workshops and photography tours.
However, all things change and, after investing several thousand hours in building and producing a massive amount of quality content the need to monetize has inevitably arrived. In fact from late 2010 onwards this site and associated activities have become largely a full-time endeavor. The reality is that, to keep adding content and improving functionality, it was inevitable that I had to push on up to the next level. And I'm glad I did.
While I currently live in Melbourne, Australia I'm originally a country boy. I spent the first 24 years of my life in Hamilton, a small town and regional hub in Western Victoria. My first job was a retail position in a camera store. I worked Monday to Friday, as well as Friday night and Saturdays after which I'd usually photograph a wedding on the Saturday afternoon. As my own business grew I began photographing portraits on Sundays prior to opening my own photography studio.
7 years after beginning work I moved to Melbourne to begin 9 years of tertiary study in photography. For the first 5 years I supported myself by working up to 3 jobs at a time, though most of my time was spent back in camera retail.
So, although it was long ago, I have vivid memories from my 10 years in retail. Its probably because of this, and the fact that I remain a small town boy at heart, that up until quite recent times I actively supported the concept of shopping in local camera stores.
But our world has changed dramatically and the advent of online shopping has brought consumers the ability to research and purchase a range of goods, rarely if ever available in a local store, with the convenience of being able to do so from the comfort of their own home, 24/7.
From my own experience its become increasing difficult to shop locally. I began purchasing from large stores in the USA back in the late 80's. Usually I was purchasing specialized photographic goods that just weren't available locally. What's more I used to shop, before I had a computer, with the aid of a fax machine. The internet has made it so much easier that I buy almost all my photographic goods online. Here's why:
- prices at local retailers are too high
- stock, outside of the most popular items, is often limited or non-existent
- when ordering goods not in stock its hit and miss, form my experience, as to whether the goods will arrive at all, let alone on time
- service is not what it used to be
So, how could I not provide my own customers with the advantages I've had available to me over 20 years. Frankly, now that its possible for me to do so, this extra level of functionality takes my site to a new level and helps solve problems for many of the good folk who visit it.
Back in the day I never really sold anything. I just had this desire to help by solving people's problems. I intuitively understood that concept years before it became sales speak. So, rather than selling by features and so-called benefits, I actually showed customers how to use the gear they were interested and/or suited to. I wanted them walking out the door empowered and able to produce great results. And it worked. Nothing is better for business than a stream of repeat customers. And I achieved that just by doing my job, the way I thought it should be done. What's more, there were cameras that I just refused to sell.
But why Amazon? Millions of customers can't be wrong. Many of you have already purchased from Amazon. You know the company offers competitive pricing and a convenient and safe way to purchase all manner of goods. From my perspective it's a no-brainer. What's more the items that I link to from my site often feature very extensive reviews. So, whether you purchase or not, its another great place for you to conduct your research.
I still draw a portion of my living from teaching and consulting. But, with most of my time now spent on this site, my revenue base must also expand. I'II certainly promote products and services that I've produced on this site and elsewhere. And I'm happy to do so. They are all educational products and very much in line with the original mission of this site "to share the beauty of the natural world and its people with an ever wider audience". With products and services that bring information, understanding and a generous measure of happiness into people's lives my mission is well and truly on track. And that's in addition to the massive amount of free content already available on this site.
Please understand that there are some links within this site from which I may benefit financially. It is your choice as to whether or not you click on those links but, at the very least, I believe you'll find the information contained to be both informative and useful. Any financial reward I may receive outside of my own direct products and services in no way alters the price you pay if you were to have purchased the same item from the same online store. I am simply paid a commission, should you decide to purchase, for directing you there.
Open and Forthright
I was not brought up to be a shrinking violet. If I don't like something I have no qualms in saying so. Not that I want to cause hurt or harm to anyone. If there's a product for which I see no benefit or value to my own lifestyle or workflow I'd be unlikely to buy and, as consequence, review it. (Though I reserve the right to comment on its potential, usefulness or place in the market.) It stands to reason, therefore, that I'm more likely to review products and services that I make use of, as a consumer or professional, either personally or through my business.
However, most folks out there interested in buying camera equipment are unlikely to be in the market for the particular equipment I use in my day-to-day professional life. But hundreds of questions tell me that many of you still want my opinion. I'm fortunate in that my teaching brings me into contact with a large range of cameras and accessories other than the ones in my current kit. This gives me the chance, usually while answering the inevitable "how do I do" questions, to familiarize myself with a large variety of cameras, lenses and accessories and, in doing so, form opinions. From time to time I borrow said gear with the intention of undergoing more rigorous, real-world testing. This allows me to keep a respectful distance from manufactures, distributors and retailers alike and makes it easier for me to say what I think.
In these days of computer driven design and cutting edge manufacturing there is simply no excuse for poor ergonomics, design, performance or image quality. And I reserve the right to speak my mind in that regard. While I don't want to offend anyone who owns a particular camera (brand and/or model), I feel a responsibility to save other folk from spending good, hard-earned money on equipment that may not be right for them. And I make no apologies for doing so.
I'm now at the age where I no longer play favorites. There was a time when I loved Hasselblad and Leica gear, whether bright and shinny or battered and beaten with age. The fact is I've had so many cameras and lenses over the years that I no longer have any bias. During my career I've owned a range of Leica, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, Hasselblad, Mamiya and Polaroid cameras.
I don’t believe myself to be particularly brand centric except, of course, when it comes to Apple. Given that I can’t get what I currently need from Leica, I’d say that, when it comes to Canon, Nikon or Sony, the doors are always open. Though, for many folks, I believe the Nikon menu system is terribly over complicated. The good news is that some of their most recent models are beginning to incorporate what, to my mind, are more straightforward menus.
Up until mid 2012 I was working with Canon and Leica systems, but that situation changed when I moved over to the Nikon D800e camera. Since late 2013 I've been investigating using my Leica lenses on the new Sony A7r camera. They've only just begun to become available in Australia, but I expect to be able to review one soon.
Over the years I've learned to understand that there is no perfect camera, only the right camera for you at particular stages of your journey. Assignments, styles and trends change with time. Over the last few years I've photographed much more architecture and wildlife than I could have imagined several years earlier. The types of camera, lenses and techniques required to photograph architecture and wildlife are so different its pretty hard to say that any one camera is perfect. The trick is to choose carefully and then learn to love and appreciate what you have. And I guess that advice is not just for photographers.
Your Own Responsibility
You have the power and the opportunity to continue to research until you find recommendations that give you the confidence you need to make a purchase. In addition to this site there are a number of avenues you could explore, including the following:
- check out camera reviews in photography magazines and online
- speak to friends and family with recently purchased DSLR cameras
- visit camera stores and actually handle the cameras and lenses that most interest you
- determine the amount of money you’re prepared to spend
- shop around to receive the best price, but also consider the merits and value of personalized service
The purchase of any DSLR camera, lens or accessory does not guarantee your success as a photographer, either amateur or professional. Its natural, particularly when purchasing sophisticated electronic equipment, that a steep learning curve would follow before you become adept with the equipment in question and begin to produce better results. Remember, the camera is just a tool. As well as learning how to use that tool its essential to be able to develop an understanding of light, image design and an affinity with your subject. Photography is all about communication and even the best camera in the world may not be enough for a portrait photographer with really poor interpersonal skills.
By reading this notice you agree that myself and my business is not responsible for the success or failure of your own photography relating to any information, recommendations or purchases you make from or on this site.