Ken Rockwell: Idiot?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by El Cabong, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Dec 1, 2008
    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 (, 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.
    A couple sentences before this:
    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.
  2. CrackedButter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2003
    51st State of America
    He's an idiot who knows how to drive clicks to his website. Enough said.
  3. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    He's brilliant. He's like the bible: don't take it too literally.
  4. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

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


    Nov 23, 2007
    Near Seattle


    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.
  6. paintball312 macrumors member

    May 25, 2009
    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. "
  7. georgemann macrumors regular


    Nov 25, 2005
    Seattle, Washington & Siem Reap, Cambodia
    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 -

    Seriously - El Cabong you are of course right, but you are also making Ken's day, this is all very good publicity.
  8. Ryan1524 macrumors 68000


    Apr 9, 2003
    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.
  9. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar

    He is one of the WORST sources for photography info. I forget where on his site it is but he actually even mentions it somewhere.
  10. Acsom macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2009
    I think he'd have more credibility if his photographs were better; most of them are flat, dull, and uninteresting.
  11. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    But... but... but.... look at the size of that lens he's holding!

    He must be a pro!
  12. JonTok macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2009
    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?
  13. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    Don't like Ken Rockwell?? Then don't read Ken Rockwell.

    It's just a website; I hear there are others...
  14. Fozzybadfeet macrumors 6502


    Oct 7, 2009
    Orange County, CA
  15. /"\/oo\/"\ macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2007
    I just like that El Cabong started this thread :D

  16. Patriks7 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2008
    Great job, I think now everyone will know who he is....
  17. Acsom macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2009

    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.
  18. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    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
  19. Acsom macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2009
    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.
  20. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    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.
  21. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    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.
  22. Tumbleweed666 macrumors 68000


    Mar 20, 2009
    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 ".
  23. wheezy macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    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.
  24. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    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.
    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. ;)
  25. stagi macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2006
    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
    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 :)

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