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Say Whhaaat?

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Camera and lens manufacturers employ teams of professionals to write their copy, and others to edit it dozens of times. At least you would think they did. But what they actually publish is often a combination of market-speak, outright lies, and sometimes just oddly puzzling (and often funny) gibberish. Here's a few claims that I've run across in the last few days, all taken from the manufacturer's websites. (They'll edit them when they find out people are making fun of them so they might not be there long, though.)

Tamron

Tamron 10-24: "Wider and longer than others in its class."

Let me think. . . that’s the class that includes the Sigma 8-16, Nikon 10-24, Canon 10-22, etc. So exactly how is it wider and longer? Oh, wait. I get it. The lens is 3.9 inches long, which is longer than anything else in this class. Still not sure about the wider part, though.

Tamron SP 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VC: "provides the ultimate in image quality and handling in the telephoto zoom class."

You said, that. Really? So it’s got better image quality than the Sigma 50-500, Canon 100-400 IS L or 70-300 IS L, Sigma 120-300, or Nikon 200-400? If you’re gonna say stuff like that, you better stop publishing your MTF charts - they make you look, at best, foolish.

Tamron 18-270: "The lens provides a 1:3.5 macro"

What, exactly, is a 1:3.5 macro? I've seen macro, and 1:3.5 magnification isn't  it.

Tokina

Tokina 12-24: "With the built-in motor, the lens can be used in AF mode with the Nikon D60 and D40 and other silent wave bodies."

I actually know what they are trying to say, but I sure can't find the term “silent wave body” anywhere. Sounds like some type of interpretive dance.

Sigma

Sigma 18-250 f/3.5-6.3 DC OS: "at the long end it can be used for sports actions."

Note to marketing department: never use “f/6.3” and “sports action” all in one sentence. That’s just really wrong.

Sigma 18-250 f/3.5-6.3 DC OS: Perfect for all shooting situations, at the wide end the Sigma’s 18-250mm is perfect for scenic, landscape or group photography; at the long end it can be used for sports actions or great shot from a day on safari. Of course, you can do great candid portraits with it as well.

Brilliant! If you’re gonna tell lies, might as well tell lots of lies.

Sigma 20 f/1.8: "provides great creative freedom to the photographer who wishes to exploit its capabilities for juxtaposing very near subject with the surrounding background."

Juxtapose vb: to place close together or side by side

OK, so am I supposed to put the “near subject” beside the background, or close to the background? I’m so confused. I guess I should read up on juxtaposition photography.

Sigma 120-400: "Rear focusing system corrects for fluctuation of aberration due to focusing."

There are lots of advantages (and a few disadvantages) to a rear focusing system, but correcting for “fluctuations of aberration” isn’t one that I’ve ever found. But if it is true, then why doesn’t the rear focusing system in all of your other telephoto zooms correct for ‘fluctuation of aberration’?

Sigma 300-800: "A perfect lens for surveillance use, its stealth black finish is unobtrusive and easily concealed."

OK, let me get this straight: the lens weighs 13 pounds,  is nearly 3 feet long with the hood mounted, and has a front element the size of a dinner plate. But by painting it black, it’s now “ unobtrusive and easily concealed”. If you mount it as a gun on a battleship, maybe.

Nikon

Nikon J1: "Set free from technicalities and complicated operation, you can capture the desired image faster and more unfailingly."

You mean I’ve spent thousands of hours over a decade learning how to do things like select aperture, choose ISO, frame shots, use strobes; but all this time the key was being set free from complicated technicalities. Oh, the waste of it all.

NIkon J1: "What's more, it will automatically select the most spectacular shot from the series of shots taken."

That’s good to know, because I can spend hours looking at a day’s shots in Lightroom and still not be able to do that.

Nikon J1: "The only buttons you will find on the top of the camera are the power switch, shutter-release button, and movie-record button so you will have an amazing range of functions at your fingertips."

Three apparently is the new “amazing range”.

Canon

Goverment Marketing Division Mission Statement: "The Canon Government Marketing Division represents Canon U.S.A., Inc. in the Government Market..."

Wow, am I glad they pointed that out. For a moment there I thought maybe Canon was marketing governments to small island nations or something.

The Mission of Canon Australia: To be the preferred supplier we will be easy to deal with and provide quality, value for the money, products and services.

My Australian friends tell me this rivals the Sigma 18-250 blurb for most lies in the fewest words. But I guess if you are the only supplier, you’re the preferred supplier.\

Canon G1x: "the new 1.5-inch High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor"

OK, your 1.5” sensor measures 22.3mm diagonally, which is actually 0.88 inches. So 0.88 is the new 1.5. Got it.

Canon G1x: "The new 14.3 Megapixel sensor, combined with a new lens and DIGIC 5 Image Processor, creates the HS SYSTEM that delivers image quality previously impossible in a compact camera."

Hmmm. Maybe so, but since the Sony NEX-5n and 7, Fuji X-100, Leica X-1, Panasonic GX-1, and Olympus E-P3 are all at least as compact, it’s quite a claim, don’t you think? Maybe you could show us a bit of data to back that up? No? OK.

Sony

Sony SAL 30mm f/2.8: "While most Macro lenses are not image stabilized, this one is, because Sony builds SteadyShot® INSIDE image stabilization into every ‘A’ camera body."

And the camera body has what to do with the lens? Especially since you also push it as a small macro to shoot with an adapter on NEX bodies? And how come the Sony 100 Macro isn’t image stabilized? I read the blurb on it carefully and it doesn’t say a thing about it. I’d rather have IS on my 100.

And in a somewhat related topic, will the real “world’s fastest camera” please stand up?

Apparently "fastest"is going to take over from "most megapixels" in the marketing wars this year. After reading all these claims, I'm so confused. . .

Olympus E-P3Worlds Fastest Autofocus

Olympus OM-D “employs the FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) AF system, introduced in the PEN E-P3, but with even greater speed.”

Nikon V1: “First, we present the world's fastest autofocus camera”

Nikon J1: “World’s fastest continuous shooting, 10 fps”

Nikon D3s:11 fps in Dx mode

Nikon V1: “The world's fastest shooting time lag”

Sony NEX:The world's shortest shooting time lag

 

I'm sure there are dozens more entertaining marketing blurbs that I've missed, so please add any good ones you've run found in the comments. But reading these reminds me of why I insist on us writing our own "takes" on various items, rather than copy-pasting the manufacturer's blurbs like most sites do.

 

Roger Cicala
Lensrentals.com

February, 2012

35 Responses to “Say Whhaaat?”

rtbox said:

I'd just like to point out in defense of the Tokina statement, Silent Wave Body kind of makes sense. The S in AF-S means silent wave, and they are the only lenses those bodies can focus. Dubbing them Silent Wave Bodies isn't exactly a leap as most people will want them to AF.

Carl said:

MikeG, you're most welcome. I've enjoyed it too. I'm guessing if the manufacturers ever start to think more like Daniel, it would surely help them increase the speed of new models...since abandoning 14 bit file depth in favor of less, would drastically reduce file sizes. I don't know if I am completely convinced, but there does seem to be valid evidence.

I guess I am just still hung up on sites like DXOmark, because their testing and comparisons are so useful. I look forward to their findings on all the new cameras, especially the D800 and 5D3. In using the 400mm f/5.6 lens I rented this week, I am finding that shooting in low light, really means a need for ISO 6400, 12,800, and beyond...so that would cause me to lean more toward the 5D3 than the D800. The D800 would absolutely rule when using wide angle lenses though, it seems to me (detail-wise anyway). And the D800 would benefit most from being able to store files at less than 14 bits, since there are so many pixels.

You would think the entire camera industry would pursue it, if Daniel's opinions are even leaning toward correct. Yet instead, they keep finding ways to increase file size, rather than reduce it. Most would probably just tell you to shoot jpegs, if you're worried about file size...which isn't really a good solution!

MikeG said:

This has been one of the most informative, entertaining and generally good natured set of comments I have read in many a long year. Thank you both Daniel and Carl. And Daniel, I have learned a great deal from your essays .. far more than I should have and far less than I now want to :)

Daniel Browning said:

Thanks, Philip! You're very welcome.

Philip Tyre said:

Wow, Daniel. That's a lot of new information for me, and you really did a great job presenting it in an understandable way. It's not every day that you feel smarter after reading blog comments. :)

Thanks for taking the time to share what you've learned.

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