It can be hard being a blogger. You toil away writing posts and trying to think of new subjects for no reward but even then some people, who get to read that content for nothing, like to tell you what a terrible job you're doing. Just as well I'm thick-skinned.
I experienced this first hand on the Rangefinder Forum when I wrote the post critical of Ralph Gibson's decision to go-digital. Then, after writing Part One of "Why Do We Talk Such Rubbish About Lenses?" I got it again on APUG*. Serves me right for trying to "promote" these posts on other forums, I guess, but how else am I supposed to reach a wider readership if I don't let people know what I've been writing about?
Shock JockThe APUG criticism had me laughing at one point. One commenter advised others not to visit my website because I relied on "shock value". And then another, presumably looking to be suitably shocked, said he was disappointed, having expected a Ken Rockwell-like rant. As I said to my pal, Phil, I managed to please none of the people all of the time!
The exact comment from Gerald C. Koch was,
"The article is drivel because it is subjective and not based on careful resolution tests. There is a difference between lenses which is usually reflected in their relative costs.
"Years ago photographic magazine routinely published useful tests making it easy for people to determine whether a lens would be of value to them. BTW, this is something that each person must decide for themselves.
"This is the second time that someone has published an article from this source. The author typically goes for shock value. Ignore him."
"Disappointed" Momus replied,
"It is I who is disappointed....I was hoping for some Ken Rockwell rage! Turns out it's the other guy.
"Actually I like Ken. I'd probably enjoy having a beer with him. But then I'd enjoy having a beer with anyone who is buying. I do generally ignore him. Funny guy though, not so much the online photographer."
I think Momus has confused me with Mike Johnston. :)
"Pointless article, and not even proof read (unless he really did shoot 400 speed film the odd film speed of 40). The macro lens is specialized for macro why shoot at infinity for comparison?"
At least, he had the good grace to acknowledge his mistake when I pointed out that the 400 speed film really was shot at 40 ISO.
Sic NoteThere was this one from Thuggins who seemed to be feeling unwell,
"This "review" has serious methodology problems. He uses a no name, 400 speed print film that is the "cheapest film in the UK". The (sic) he scans it and expect (sic) that after all of this to glean some information about lens quality! I have also tested the 50MIJ agains (sic) the standard Zuiko 50f1.8 and 50f1.4 using Kodak VS and there is definately (sic) a difference when the slides are viewed directly under magnification.
"Also, Zuiko lenses are like sex. Even when they are not very good, they are still pretty good. Back when photo magazines did tests and reviews of lenses, Zuikos consistently came out at the top of the heap.**
"I have seen many images blown up to ~4' x 6' (yes, that's feet, not inches). At this size the lens quality is very apparent. Some of this (sic) images still retain sharp details while others are so muddy they are painful to look at."
"It's a "review", as you put it, of the lenses as I use them. I'm sure you'd agree there's not much point in me testing them according to how you'd use them.
"From past experience, if it doesn't show up in a 3200dpi scan it certainly won't show up in a 10x12 print which is as big as I'd generally go from a 35mm neg. Might there be differences in a 4'x6' print? Personally, I don't know and I don't care. I would never print anything like as big from 35mm and I don't know anyone who ever has. If I ever had a need for a print that size I'd use large format, certainly not 35mm.
"The "no name" film is rebranded Rollei Retro 400s as I said in a reply earlier in this thread which you may have missed. Think Arista Premium 400 which, for those of us in the UK, is a "no name" version of Tri X. Regular readers of my blog are aware of the Firstcall/Rollei thing but you're right: I should have said it again for new readers, particularly those from overseas. I'll amend the post accordingly."Which I did.
Defending Your RightsThere were some other comments along a similar theme and one or two supportive ones, particularly from Ian Grant who reads this blog. Thanks, Ian! I'm not looking for sympathy or even understanding in mentioning these critical posts. I'm a libertarian and people should be free to say whatever they like especially when I might find what they have to say objectionable. The crucial test of free speech is that it allows us to say things that other people will not like. If we were just free to say nice things all the time then we'd be living in an overly-oppressive, politically-correct state. Oh, wait, we are!
Wiser from these exchanges but wishing to exercise my own freedom of speech, I included this preamble when I went back into the lion's den to promote Part Two.
"I've posted Part Two of my "Why do we talk such rubbish about lenses" article on my blog. The first part attracted a lot of flak when I started a thread about it here last week. So as not to upset people or waste their time, here's a general health warning. Don't read the articles if you:
1. Only consider completely unbiased resolution charts issued by lens makers to be valid
2. Think subjective lens tests are generally a waste of time
3. Are an artist and consider talk of lenses to be beneath you
4. Aren't an artist but still consider talk of lenses to be beneath you
5. Can't grasp the concept of "light entertainment"
6. Have so busy a life that reading something you might have no interest in is viewed as five minutes of your time you'll never get back
Seriously, though, I unintentionally seemed to hack a lot of people off with Part One and I don't want to annoy anyone else if I can avoid it. So please bear in mind that it's a hands-on, real-world, subjective look at a few standard lenses and not a technical review of lenses for the next Mars mission. If that kind of thing might interest you then please feel encouraged to drop by. If you're looking for an Erwin Puts-type review then you'll be disappointed but, now that you've been warned, it'll be your own fault. "
Raising AwarenessThat seemed to appease the more critical commenters and I got a comparatively free ride for Part Two. But now I come to the nub of this post: how can I raise awareness of the blog and find new readers short of going on to other forums and annoying people?
Well, posting more regularly certainly has had an effect. I'm basically writing twice as many posts and the result has been that monthly hits have more than doubled to over 30,000 on average. That figure has been stable for a few months and I'm pleased with how it's gone. But there are still loads of film and darkroom or analogue/analog photographers out there who have never heard of The Online Darkroom. I'm writing in a niche market so I can never hope to get anywhere near the sort of readership figures that digital bloggers can achieve but I can still do better.
As I've said from time to time, it would be great if every reader was able to let a few pals know about TOD or referenced it online when appropriate. Meanwhile, if there are any blog experts out there amongst my readers I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have to boost readership or spread the word.
* Here's the APUG link if you have some time on your hands.
** I've read this claim several times before but it's usually written by Americans. My recollection of lens reviews in UK magazines of old is that Nikon and Canon lenses almost always came out at the top. Zuikos, Rokkors and Pentax lenses usually vied for third place. Leica and Contax lenses might well have stolen the show but they were seldom included in group tests. But Zuikos heading the field?