Ken Rockwell: Idiot?

El Cabong

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 1, 2008
620
278
For those who don't know who Ken Rockwell is, be thankful. For everyone else...

Some sort of masochistic streak seems to drive me to frequent Ken Rockwell's website. He has a sort of village idiot/FOX News appeal to his updates, brazenly shilling random products, using dubious arguments that usually involve disparaging competing products to the point of contradicting his previous claims.

His latest abomination is this review of Nikon's 24mm f/2.8D lens. In it, he makes the claim that "It can replace both the 14-24mm and 24-70mm zooms," which is a little suspect because (1) a fixed lens obviously doesn't replace the multiple focal lengths of a zoom lens, and (2) the lens has a design more than 20 years older than the lenses against which he compares it.

What does he use to back up his argument? He states, without a shred of evidence, that the 24mm's sharpness is superior to that of the 14-24mm, and equal to that of the 24-70mm. Evidently, he's chosen to disregard Nikon's own MTF curves (24mm, 14-24mm, 24-70mm), which plainly show that he is incorrect. Beyond that, lens-testing websites (photozone.de, slrgear.com) show that the 24mm is not nearly the lens Mr. Rockwell claims it to be, particularly in regard to its performance against the other two lenses. Their actual measurements hold a little more water than his subjective ones.

Most irritating is his constant invocation of the word "pro" to lend some sort of legitimacy to his articles.
"Why not think like a pro and take only this 24mm instead of four pounds of 14-24mm and 24-70mm along with your 70-200mm? [...] Pros know they don't need any lenses between 24mm and the 70mm end of their 70-200mm. If they need a looser or tighter framing, they simply take a few steps forward with the 24mm, or a few steps back with the 70mm."
A couple sentences before this:
"Today's FX Nikon photographer usually owns, or wants to own, the Trinity of the 14-24mm AF-S, 24-70mm AF-S and 70-200mm AF-S VR-II."
So... every FX Nikon photographer owns/wants the lenses he's criticizing, unless they're pros, who, as everyone knows, don't buy zoom lenses that go below 70mm. Obviously, the 14-24mm and 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses are geared towards amateurs with big pocketbooks (although in a previous article, he says, "Today in 2007 most people shoot with f/3.5-5.6 zooms, and pros shoot with f/2.8 zooms." I guess a lot of things change in 2 years).

I don't know if Ken Rockwell is an idiot, or just a conniving liar. In any case, he is definitely a jackass.

Rant over.
 

ManhattanPrjct

macrumors 6502
Oct 6, 2008
354
1
Whether you like him or not, you're supporting him by visiting his website and encouraging others to go there as well.
 
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LaJaca

macrumors regular
Nov 23, 2007
109
0
Near Seattle
Ken:idiot?

sky:blue?

Yes to all, though I think idiot is a bit of an unfair and mean adjective.

I'd call him creatively misinformed with no hope of autofocusing on the truth.
 

paintball312

macrumors member
May 25, 2009
51
0
Yes he's an idiot, but so is anyone what takes what he says seriously:

"This site is purely my personal speech and opinion, and a way for me to goof around. Don't take any of this as true; I like to make things up as much as any other kid."

"While often inspired by actual products and events, just like any other good news organization, I like to make things up and stretch the truth if they make an article more fun. In the case of new products, rumors and just plain silly stuff, it's all pretend. If you lack a good BS detector or sense of humor, please treat this entire site as the work of fiction that it is. it is the product of my own imagination."

"I love a good hoax. Read The Museum of Hoaxes, or see their site. A hoax, like this site, is done as a goof simply for the heck of it by overactive minds as a practical joke. "
 

georgemann

macrumors regular
EL Cabong is Ken Rockwell

El Cabong is obviously Ken Rockwell himself, playing one of his famous practical jokes to get more hits to his site. ;)

And in the spirit of this post I encourage all of you to visit my Nikon site.

Nikon Digital Photographer - http://nikondp.com

Seriously - El Cabong you are of course right, but you are also making Ken's day, this is all very good publicity.
 

Ryan1524

macrumors 68000
Apr 9, 2003
1,643
225
Canada GTA
His insights are as just like everything else on the web, useless unless taken with a grain of salt and along with many other articles to balance the arguments.

He has a point about many things, and he's also wrong about a lot of things. Doesn't mean he's an idiot. In fact, I think he's a brilliant businessman who also seems to know how to take great pictures.
 

Acsom

macrumors regular
Jul 10, 2009
141
0
I think he'd have more credibility if his photographs were better; most of them are flat, dull, and uninteresting.
 

JonTok

macrumors newbie
Oct 30, 2009
27
0
As far as his opinions go, they're just opinions - nobody's right all the time, right?

For someone of limited understanding of photography but a lot of passion, like me, his site is a good source + I like his Nikon reviews - they're to the point + I quite like his no-BS sense of humour. The layout of the site, compared to some other resources, is easy to use, which is a huge plus point.

Perhaps for 'pros' he's not teaching them anything they don't already know, so if you are (or you think you are) a pro, why not go somewhere else and stop whining about him?
 

Acsom

macrumors regular
Jul 10, 2009
141
0
As far as his opinions go, they're just opinions - nobody's right all the time, right?

For someone of limited understanding of photography but a lot of passion, like me, his site is a good source + I like his Nikon reviews - they're to the point + I quite like his no-BS sense of humour. The layout of the site, compared to some other resources, is easy to use, which is a huge plus point.

Perhaps for 'pros' he's not teaching them anything they don't already know, so if you are (or you think you are) a pro, why not go somewhere else and stop whining about him?

For someone like you he is absolutely one of the worst sources of information; I think that is the point that is trying to be made. His information is not accurate, and often it is intentionally so. He even goes so far as to state that directly in his disclaimer. You might like his sense of humor, but understand this: many times he is making a private joke, and it is at YOUR expense.

I hope you still like his sense of humor, because I find it a bit disturbing.
 

OreoCookie

macrumors 68030
Apr 14, 2001
2,680
68
Sendai, Japan
I think the mistake you're making is taking him more seriously than he does himself. He doesn't claim to be an awesome photographer, he doesn't claim that his `reviews' are representative in some way, shape or form and he doesn't claim to be impartial.

So why are you having such a big problem with him? I take his website as entertainment and in some instances, I've found it useful (e. g. he has a page that compares the different versions of Nikon's pro tele zooms -- this was indeed useful when I bought one used).

So instead of ranting about his website, how about suggesting better ones (and I don't mean references to forums)? Bring it on! ;) :D
 

Acsom

macrumors regular
Jul 10, 2009
141
0
I think the mistake you're making is taking him more seriously than he does himself. He doesn't claim to be an awesome photographer, he doesn't claim that his `reviews' are representative in some way, shape or form and he doesn't claim to be impartial.

So why are you having such a big problem with him? I take his website as entertainment and in some instances, I've found it useful (e. g. he has a page that compares the different versions of Nikon's pro tele zooms -- this was indeed useful when I bought one used).

So instead of ranting about his website, how about suggesting better ones (and I don't mean references to forums)? Bring it on! ;) :D
He is like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail; he blusters about being omnipotent, but instead is a humorous diversion, easily slain. the problem is the first few hundred or thousand who believed the bluster and paid tribute and homage, before Arthur drew the sword and revealed the comedy.
 

carlgo

macrumors 68000
Dec 29, 2006
1,804
17
Monterey CA
I like the site. Very interesting viewpoint that polarize some people. What is the fuss?

KR dislikes computer-based, extensive post-production photography.
Promotes JPEG over RAW.
Says pixels don't count.
Likes Nikon over Canon DSLRs.
Promotes Canon compacts.
Loves Leica over all others.
Recommends scanned slides as superior to digital.
Recommends the D40 for 90% of users.
Loves Apple, hates Windows.
Shoots bright, colorful and saturated, rather than dark and arty, street, etc. photos.
Promotes old used lenses over new expensive lenses.
Doesn't like to carry a DSLR anymore, says an S90 is better.

This stuff is very important to some people, it is a core part of their life. Think those stands might PO more than a few people!!!? And I am sure I forgot a few other points he makes!

Oh, and he changes his mind. Kind of a stream of consciousness kind of site.

I like it.
 

pdxflint

macrumors 68020
Aug 25, 2006
2,407
14
Oregon coast
I don't know what the big deal is about Rockwell... there are plenty of sources out there, including tons of review sites. Some are more about the raw numbers, others are about the day-to-day living with a particular piece of equipment. Many have opinions (most) which come from the writer's own experiences or biases. There are zillions of forum threads and user groups out there with conflicting opinions on what's best, etc. etc. Anyone searching for information on the web has to know that it's the wild west out there, and to take anything with a healthy grain of salt. Do your research, gets lots of opinions and sift through it - then come to your own conclusions. If you think you have something to say, and really want to get it out there, feel free to create your own site or blog and fill it up with good content. That's what Rockwell did. People don't have to agree with you in order for you to do this, and you could even make some money, although that would require spending a lot of time keeping the site current and adding new content almost daily.

If you don't like what Rockwell has to say, then I encourage you or anybody to do a better job analyzing gear, which can always be done. Be as opinionated as you want (just try to support it or risk looking like as much of an opinionated idiot as some folks think Rockwell is) or take a purely objective approach. Either one can work and get you a legion of fans and detractors.

I don't think complaining about Rockwell here will really do anything but serve as a rant, as you mentioned, and largely drive more clicks to his site - which you don't like, and that will only serve to further promote it.

Write a blog, present your alternative perspectives, show some insight and knowledge of photo gear... and I'll be happy to bookmark it. :)

But don't call someone an idiot because you disagree with them. It works against you in the end.
 

Tumbleweed666

macrumors 68000
Mar 20, 2009
1,650
47
Near London, UK.
Reminds me of the series of spoof 'Viz' money-saving cartoons from the UK in the 80's or 90's, one of which was " don't waste money on a zoom lens, simply walk closer to whatever you wish to take a picture of ".
 

wheezy

macrumors 65816
Apr 7, 2005
1,280
1
Alpine, UT
I can't take him seriously because his website design sucks ass. At first I didn't think it was the home of some 'reviewer' because it looked like dad's home made family site from 1998.

And then I read his review of the 5DII, and half his complaints are because the camera doesn't fit his hands good enough... you know, my hands are the same size as his hands so that's important to me.

Lastly, he looks like a D-Bag from the get go. That Yellow shirt and backwards white baseball hat just ain't doing it for me. I'm not saying that's wrong or bad, but it's the kind of fashion that leads to the kind of person that I just don't get along with.
 

OreoCookie

macrumors 68030
Apr 14, 2001
2,680
68
Sendai, Japan
He is like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail; he blusters about being omnipotent, but instead is a humorous diversion, easily slain. the problem is the first few hundred or thousand who believed the bluster and paid tribute and homage, before Arthur drew the sword and revealed the comedy.
I find believing in what Ken Rockwell writes about as good/bad as people taking pictures of bathroom tiles to measure distortions. Or who cling to a red L or a gold ring as a way to measure a good lens. Or who compare numbers and stars from photozone benchmarks instead of going out and taking pictures.
And then I read his review of the 5DII, and half his complaints are because the camera doesn't fit his hands good enough... you know, my hands are the same size as his hands so that's important to me.
Gee, you seem to take it really personally that he prefers the handling of Nikon cameras to Canons. (What camera brand do you own? :rolleyes:) He doesn't bash Canon, he just prefers Nikon. If anything, he basically ignores anything but Canon and Nikon when it comes to dslrs.

And when someone starts ranting about somebody else's wardrobe, you just know they've run out of substantial arguments. ;)
 

stagi

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2006
1,125
0
If you don't like what Rockwell has to say, then I encourage you or anybody to do a better job analyzing gear, which can always be done. Be as opinionated as you want (just try to support it or risk looking like as much of an opinionated idiot as some folks think Rockwell is) or take a purely objective approach. Either one can work and get you a legion of fans and detractors.
Totally agree. And before this I had never heard of Ken Rockwell, looking at his website for about 2 seconds and closed the browser. Ugly looking site and for me that will make me move onwards. (and im a canon guy so don't really need to read any nikon reviews)

and @pdxflint check out my new site http://www.digitalphotobuzz.com
Just like you said in your post I would always read photo sites and have a different opinion so started my own. Its been a lot of work to keep fresh content up there but fun so far :)