Roger's Corner

The Bad Photography Marketing Awards for 2012

Published August 7, 2012

There’s an old saying among lawyers, in many variations, but all are similar to this:

If you have the facts, pound home the facts. If you have the law, pound home the law. If you have neither, pound on the table.”

For photography, I would assume it would go something like this:

“If you have the technology, pound home the technology. If you have better images, pound home the images. If you have neither, blow smoke up their . . . . “


Smoke Enema Kit


Because most companies  apparently use the third option for most of their marketing, I am left to assume none of them are comfortable that their technology or images are significantly better than the competition’s.

You may wonder why I care. There’s a pretty simple reason: I’m a gear head. I want facts. Marketing drivel makes it even harder to find the little bit of factual information that the manufacturers grudgingly release. It gets lost in all the meaningless marketing noise.

I spent as much time as I could stand wandering through the various advertisements and web pages of a few camera companies, finding some gems to nominate for “awfulness” awards.

I planned on calling them The Innovative, Groundbreaking, World-Class, Next-Generation, State-of-the-Art, Fastest, Revolutionary, Feature-Rich, Bad Photography Marketing Awards, since those seem to be the most overused catch phrases.

Unfortunately that already wouldn’t fit on our blog page. I thought of calling them The Rogers, kind of like the Oscars, but then found out I was nominated for one. If I won, it would seem kind of fixed with Roger winning a Roger. So Bad Marketing Awards it is.

Voting is simple: just go to this Survey Monkey, place your vote for each nominee, and we’ll tally them up after a couple of weeks and announce the winners.

Why just a couple of weeks? Because I’ll bet right now that half these award nominees quietly disappear from those websites pretty soon. If they do, I will rest easy knowing I’ve finally made a real contribution to photography.

This is by no means a complete list. But after a few hours of reading what passes for copy at most photography websites, I felt my IQ dropping, and I was starting to talk in worn-out catch phrases.

When I told my wife her new dress was feature-rich yet had an intuitive, easy-to-use interface, my internet connection got unplugged. So please feel free to add your own nominee as a comment. (If this gets anything like the post, the comments will be far more entertaining than the blog post.)

The Category Nominees

1) The Count von Count Award


The nominees are:

Nikon for the D800: “36.3 MP means true 1080p HD cinematic quality video.” Let’s see, HD video is 1920 X 1080 pixels which equals 2.1 megapixels. I’m thinking pretty much everybody has 2.1 megapixels.

Olympus for the OM-D E-M5: “The E-M5 is equipped with the world’s first 5-axis image stabilization system, and can compensate for vertical, horizontal, and rotational camera shake.” OK, vertical is one . . .

Olympus for the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f4.8-6.7: “[It] is the world’s smallest and lightest 600mm super telephoto lens.” Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m really pretty insulted you thought I needed you to point that out to me. Not to mention it’s always been my dream to handhold 600mm at f/6.7.


 2) The Doublespeak Award (AKA the “It’s a Feature” Award)


To qualify as doublespeak, the phrase must “deliberately disguise, distort, or reverse the meaning in order to deceive.”

The number of nominees in this category was simply staggering. This, of course, is the equivalent to “Best Actor” and “Best Director” wrapped up in one for marketing copywriters. I did my best to pick a true winner, but my brain became numb.

First up is Canon for the EF-S 17-85mm: “The EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is a perfect example of this technology.” I’ve shot extensively with that lens. It’s a perfect example of no technology, unless you consider compromised quality to be a technology.

Second nominee is again Canon for the PowerShot s100: “[…] high-sensitivity 12.1 Megapixel 1/1.7-type CMOS sensor.” It may be highly sensitive to something but obviously not pixels. Unless they wrote this back in 2007 for some other camera and just copy-pasted it.

Third we have Panasonic for the G5:

The LUMIX G5 offers users simple operation controls with minimal stress, so users can concentrate on shooting.  A newly added function lever conveniently located near the shutter release allows for direct adjustment of zoom, exposure or aperture control and can be used to magnify images in playback mode and page flip in menu mode.”  

Yes, I want a lever capable of changing exposure and aperture control right under my shutter-button finger. How convenient is that??

3) The “Just Zip It” Award


These aren’t quite doublespeak because they don’t disguise or distort. They don’t make the “Say Whhaaat?” category because you can understand what they’re trying to say–you just can’t believe they tried to say it.

Olympus for the OM-D E-M5: “6:6 [aspect ratio] that emulates the medium format look.” We probably have a clear winner here–because we all get micro 4/3 cameras so we can emulate that medium format look.

Olympus for the M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f2.0: “It is great for tracking a moving child or pet.” I’d use a GPS device myself. Even then I’m not sure why 12mm would be particularly good for photographing a moving child or pet.

Nikon for the D800: “DX crop mode to maximize […] angle of view[…]” You forgot “and nuke image quality” or “if you don’t have Photoshop.” Or lots of things like that. for the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 G: “They say the main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live. I’m so jolly because I know where all the good lenses live.” What can I say? It’s a gift. And no, I didn’t nominate myself for my own award. The staff insisted via early write-in ballots.

Sigma for the 300-800mm lens: “A perfect lens for surveillance use, its stealth black finish is unobtrusive and easily concealed.” OK, exactly how do I easily conceal this 3-foot long, 13-pound lens? Or is unobtrusive the same as incredibly huge?

4) The Daytime Drama Dialogue Award

Requested permission. Copyright Mark Longmire,


To be nominated in this category, the copy had to 1) make me distinctly nauseous and 2) make me think “you have absolutely no facts worth using, do you?”

The first nomination goes to Nikon (or maybe Ashton) for the J1: “Your zest for life is fueled by a desire to communicate all that you experience. Share the very incredible world that is yours with Nikon 1.” I almost hurled again just pasting it in here. I apologize to myself for putting this on my own blog page. I think the complete text should read “share the very incredible world that is yours with both of your Facebook friends.”

The second nomination is Olympus for the OM-D E-M5: “When shooting, the photographer can instantly ‘create’ a truly unique world and preserve it in exceptional quality. The ‘world’ will be transformed from something you see to something you ‘take part’ in.”  This one also receives a special nomination for most use of quotation marks in a single sentence.

And back to Nikon for the V1:  “Nikon 1 V1 for your pursuit to express every moment of life. Your photography sparks conversations—the Nikon 1 V1 helps you interpret all. Set your creative freedom free with an imaging system designed for today and tomorrow.” You think there’s any chance the same person wrote copy for both the J1 and V1? Just maybe?

Finally, with all due modesty, I must nominate for the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II:When the lens mount hits your camera and you raise the two in unison to your face, sparks will fly and the stars will align. You’ll find yourself in the land of Phototopia, full of razor-sharp images.” It may not have the widespread exposure of the other nominees, but like an Indie film nominated for an Oscar, the critics will all love this one.

5) The “Say Whhaaat?” Award

If you know the caption to this image, you can vote twice in this category.


These were, I think, attempts to get into the doublespeak category but were so bizarre I’m not even certain what they meant to say.

Canon for the G12: “[…] 720p HD Video with stereo sound to get crystal clear footage.”  The last time I heard footage was . . . well, it was a really long time ago and some magic mushrooms were involved. Thinking back though, maybe I saw music. I’m not sure. Looks like some Canon copywriters are expanding their consciousness.

Sigma for the 150-500mm:  “[…] allows photographers to freely explore the flexibility of a telephoto zoom lens.” This almost made the Daytime Drama awards and probably would have if they’d gone on just a bit longer. But I remain rather puzzled about the concept of freely exploring lenses. If I want to explore a lens, I take it apart. Otherwise I take pictures with it.

Panasonic for the G5:

Touch screen operation on the LCD screen allows for simple shooting or playback of images and the new Touch Pad function enables the use of both LVF and LCD simultaneously, which encourages more intuitive shooting.”

I’m truly, truly trying to understand what this means. Especially how using both LVF and LCD simultaneously can encourage me to be intuitive. This was a near nominee in the Grammar Checker category also.

6) The “You’re Letting the Intern Write Copy, Aren’t You?” Award

The first nominee is Panasonic for this doozy of a sentence:

“When used with the LUMIX G5, the full line of high-grade lens combines with its precision AF (Auto Focus) to achieve high resolutions, with an optimal balance of resolution and noise reduction to produce lifelike image rendering and high precision auto exposure and white balance for faithful color reproduction.”

By the way, Panasonic, does that mean that the full line of high-grade lenses doesn’t do any of that stuff on my GH-2? And also, by the way, where do we divide the high-grade lenses from the low-grade lenses? I mean, if you’ve got some high-grade ones, you must have some low-grade ones, right?

The second nominee is Fuji for the X100:23mm F2 Single Focal Lens (Equivalent to 35mm/135 Format).” I’m not familiar with the 35mm/135 format.

Author’s note: Obviously I screwed up on this one. Having begun photography with digital (Apple Quick Take in 1994 and digital microscopy processed through NIH Image) to an EOS D30 I don’t know my film terms, obviously. So on this one you can laugh at me rather than Fuji. 

Third, and nearly sweeping the nominations, is Panasonic for the G5:

“Featuring a compact, lightweight body with built-in flash, the LUMIX G5 boasts ultra-high mobility while offering users a powerful camera performance which achieves spectacular image quality, realizing true-to-life photo details through excellent resolution, image rendering and color production.”

7) Worst Graphic or Chart

For this category, we have Canon for the indecipherable icon feature charts. Decide which of these, for example, is the $6,000 camera and which is the $800 camera.


Icon list for three Canon cameras, Top left, the 1Dx; bottom left, the T4i; and right-hand side, the G1x. Thank goodness all three have Pictbridge. What would we do without that?


Canon for their “Creativity in Motion” graph.

I guess the units for the X-axis are numbers. Maybe you count up the number of icons each camera gets from the nominee above. But what are the units for creativity? Minutes of footage?

Assuming it’s a linear graph, then is it accurate to say the EOS C300 is 2.85 times as creative as a Powershot S100? Or is it logarithmic and the C300 is actually 2,850 times as creative as the S100? I’m confused.



Sony for the NEX Lens Roadmap graphic.  Could it possibly be any more vague?

Compare it to the Fuji X roadmap or the micro 4/3 roadmap. No, really it’s better if you don’t. They actually have radical things like telling you the focal length and aperture of the upcoming lenses.



And Finally, A Winner by Default

Worst Website Makeover Award

This one is not even close: Nikon wins by a landslide.

I just don’t see how anyone can compete in this category. This could be a Lifetime Achievement Award kind of thing. Never have so few web designers done so much, in so short a time, to ruin a good website.

It’s sad, really. Nikon for years has had perhaps the easiest-to-navigate, cleanly-information-packed website of all the camera makers. I guess they thought cleanly presented factual information just went out of style.

It starts on the main page where the head banner rotates through various products, including your usual tattooed girl with bizarre hair and a snake.



Below that, of course, things get really bizarre. We get introduced to the current Holy Trinity of Nikon: the V1/J1 camera, the 18-300 lens, and . . . Ashton. If I’m going to Nikon’s page, those are the three things I want to see first. (Not!!)


“Small is now Huge.” What does that mean, really? Are we talking about cameras still, or are we talking about Ashton? Now we can go directly from the front page of Nikon USA to the “Ashton Website” and see such photographically important things as Ashton getting covered with aluminum tinsel and shot out of a cannon.

I guess Nikon missed that cannon-Canon reference. It is sort of a good start, though, because they need to blow this stuff up quickly.

Can we please, please go back to the Nikon USA website pre-Ashton?

Not to Mention Nikon Starts a New Lens Grouping Standard

I still expected that once I got past the front-page fluff I’d be back in logical Nikon land.

Not so much. If you click on the lenses section, you enter a reality distortion field.  I expected an overview page where I could select wide-angle, standard or telephoto. Maybe they would also be separated into zooms and primes. We all know the drill.

But Nnnnoooooo! I get to choose from the following categories:

  • Travel and Landscape Lenses
  • People and Event Lenses
  • Sports and Action Lenses
  • Macro Lenses

OK, I know what’s behind curtain No. 4. But what the hell are those other things? I want to look into some wide aperture lenses. Where do I go? Travel and Landscape maybe. I’ll try that.

Travel and Landscape does, indeed, have the Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 and the 16-35mm f/4 VR. But it doesn’t have the 14-24mm f/2.8 or 12-24mm f/4 DX. So I guess I shouldn’t use those two for landscape work. Or maybe I’m not supposed to travel with them.

I’m really, really trying to figure out why the landscape and travel category contains those first two but not the second two. I’m also wondering where the 14-24mm f/2.8 could be.

Ah! I found the 14-24mm f/2.8. It’s a Sports and Action lens! Of course! You see it on the sidelines at all those sporting events, right?

But wait! The Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 is also a sports and action lens. So it’s twice as useful. Uh-oh. Wait. I got that wrong. It’s three times as useful. Because it appears the 10-24mm is also a People and Events lens.

I knew that. Well, actually, no I didn’t.

The 300mm f/4 is also a People and Events lens. But it’s not a Sports and Action Lens. The 80-400 is a Sports and Action Lens, though. (It says “freeze the excitement” at the top of the Sports and Action page– that’s what I reach for to freeze the action: an f/5.6 zoom with nearly adequate image quality.)

I did find one way to navigate Nikon’s lens pages without going insane. Use the Wayback Machine to look at versions a few months old. Things actually made sense then.

I will give an honorable mention award to Panasonic for their camera informational pages that run 10 to 12 screens long. I thought I was going to get carpal tunnel from spinning the scroll wheel while reading about a camera.

Hyperlinks, Panasonic. It’s a new concept but I think it’s going to catch on.

I know this isn’t nearly all of them.

So leave a comment with your own nominee if you like. Otherwise, you can place your votes at this Survey Monkey.

Just for voting you can download this macro shot of a shorted-out PCB to use as a screen saver or background.

Roger Cicala 2012


(This image is particularly useful when your computer-illiterate friend asks you to look at his laptop because it’s running slow: you just download it, make it the background, tell him you’ve programmed the webcam to reverse itself and take a picture of the circuit board of the computer, showing him the problem. Then tell him it’s not fixable so he should just give you the laptop before that burn spreads further.)

We’ll tally things up and see if we can’t send the winners something appropriate–like maybe a Thesaurus or something.


Roger Cicala

August 2012

Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

Posted in Roger's Corner
  • Matt

    Minimal hesitation between shots for continuous shooting up to 12 fps complete with phase detection auto focus—plus a smaller, lighter form factor.
    From Sony; what is a smaller, lighter form factor?

  • Ben

    LOVE the post, Roger. It’s amazing the kind of nonsense you hear from our camera makers…

  • Nqina Dlamini

    I hope you have thick skin.

  • intrnst

    Careful, Bwana Roger! You have done some kind of big sin.
    The natives are angry. They are throwing rocks and callin’ names.
    No sudden moves, sahib.

  • John

    OM-D E-M5: ”When shooting, the photographer can instantly ‘create’ a truly unique world and preserve it in exceptional quality. The ‘world’ will be transformed from something you see to something you ‘take part’ in.”

    After reading this I’m not sure if I should click my heels (wearing my red shoes of course) or jump down the rabbit hole. In any case lets hope random drug testing is not involved.

  • Richard Hatch

    I tell you.. I’ve used 35mm since 1972…black and white… bought bulk and loaded my own Tri X… shot hundreds of rolls of color slides. I knew it as 35mm. Maybe I knew it was 135… but I don’t remember knowing it. In this day and age with digital what it is the most common way of comparing “crop sensors” to a standard is to refer to “FF” or 35mm. For fuji to state it the way they did… well… I’m betting the average photographer under the age of 50 would not have known that… and besides.. that lens just sucks big time if you have any notion of manual focus… (that thing you did with cameras in the old days)

    I am disappointed to learn that Roger is not perfect… 🙁

  • Good article Roger. I would also nominate an entire book – Canon’s Lens Work III 😀 Very nicely done, but wow it’s marketing fluff with just a bit of real information (which, to Canon’s credit, is pretty darn interesting).

    Also, I really wish spaces were allowed on this website – man this stuff is getting hard to read.

  • The intro to the Sigma 800 f5.6 is pretty good:
    “This Sigma APO 800mm F5.6 EX DG is a large aperture 800mm lens that explores the visual effects of a super telephoto to the limit.”

    I have no idea what that means.

    @Tony – Yes, really, they are tilting and rolling the sensor – IIRC, the OM-D uses a magnetically-suspended sensor, which would give it 5-axis. Unfortunately it doesn’t give 6-axis, which would include traversal on the z-axis and be great for hand-held macro – perhaps a future option/revision.

  • Haha. I definitely have to give it to the Sigma 300-800. Very easily concealed indeed.

  • jack Zyberk

    > “Small is now Huge.” What does that mean, really?”

    Ashton’s small masculine “asset” became huge after enlargement procedure. He has finally made a grade to become the front-page-man for Nikon.
    I only wonder who’s he and why they’re advertising it?

    I nominate Nikon for the “Just zip It” award for their usuall “openness” and specifically after the D800 AF debacle.

  • Tony

    I’ll still call BS on at least part of Olympus’ 5 axes of stabilization. That implies they have 5 axes of compensation motion available which is highly doubtful. Really, are they tilting and rolling the sensor? They could certainly be using 5 axes of motion sensing which could improve the accuracy of a 2-axis (X and Y shift) compensation mechanism. But then their claim would have to be scaled back to the non-sexy “It works a little bit better now”.

  • Joey

    You may want to stick to what you do best: rentals. Because this post is really lame, and you just come across as an ignoramus. Not even knowing the various film formats!?

  • Michael

    Very cool idea. I perfectly agree with Nikon’s site making the top of the worst. However, have you tried the “real lens overview page”?

    There’s alink to this page on the main lens page just below that impressive bunch of lenses on the top right.;-)

  • Michael

    Very cool idea. I perfectly agree with Nikon’s site making the top of the worst. However, have you tried the “real lens overview page”?

    There’s alink to this page on the main lens page just below that impressive bunch of lenses on the top right.;-)

  • Roger Cicala

    Matt (and others),

    I stand corrected (and have corrected that it’s my bad not Fuji in the article). Obviously I screwed up on this one. Having begun photography with digital (Apple Quick Take in 1994 and digital microscopy processed through NIH Image) to an EOS D30 I don’t know my film terms, obviously. So on this one everyone can laugh at me rather than Fuji.


  • Pete

    “23mm F2 Single Focal Lens (Equivalent to 35mm/135 Format).” I’m not familiar with the 35mm/135 format.”

    Are you serious? How can you not know that when you run a photography based site? That’s embarassing.

  • “23mm F2 Single Focal Lens (Equivalent to 35mm/135 Format)” clearly means that the lens is functionally equivalent to a 35mm focal length lens when taking in account of the crop factor of the x100’s APC-sized sensor compared to that of a full-frame sensor (which is equal to 135 film). Anyone who’s shot film for a decent amount of time should know that what we call “35mm film” is also known as 135.

  • Dehrk

    Perhaps Sigma was comparing it to the 200-500mm/2.8 when describing the 300-800 as “unobtrusive and easily concealed”?

  • Okay, somebody already mentioned that there is a vertical axis of rotation, so Olympus can legitimately claim that the OMD stabilizes in that direction. You’re getting to snarky. Maybe you’d better do some fact checking before you end up sounding as foolish as those you seek to ridicule. As to the Fujifilm, so-called error of 35mm/135 format. 135 is a proper term for 35mm film. There are still those who shoot that, you know.

    However, the Panasonic G5 descriptions are truly awful, however one bad ad copywriter only should get one shot at infamy.

  • Siegfried

    Dear Roger,
    thanks for making my day, it was really entertaining and educational (I had to refer to my dictionary 7 times).
    But I dare you, I double-dare you, say you never heard of ISO 1007 standard one more time and… won’t believe it. I’ve got to say that in some Mordors term ‘135 type film’ was much more popular then ’35mm film’. So ‘Equivalent to 35mm/135 Format’ may not be 100% accurate – I’d rather put it ’35mm film/135 format equivalent [of …]’ – but in nowadays world it looks very decent.


    FWIW, my vote goes to Canon icons and Nikon web-site.

  • Roger Cicala

    Yeah, like Asad said 🙂
    See what I mean?

  • asad

    Roger — you mean “copywriter” — as in, one who writes (ad) copy. A copyrighter is a different thing entirely! 😉

  • Roger Cicala

    Pete, since you burned me, I’ll leave it as it is so everyone else can enjoy seeing why I don’t apply as a copyrighter for one of these companies. 🙂


  • And then my iPad autocorrects.


  • Roger,
    Is there an award for getting the URL of your own website wrong?

    At the foot of the article, you have le is this somewhere I can rent an assistant called Len?

    Sorry to be a pedant.


  • Roger Cicala

    Jeff – truth is I never got that far. But I took a glance after reading your comment. I see some Samsung write-in votes coming!!!

  • Jeff S

    Hello, surprised you didn’t mention Samsung NX’s website. Or does their universal memory gap apply to you as well? 😉

    Personally, I hate their website about as much as Nikon’s. “Experience the NX system” huh? From the way they made their NX website, you’d think lenses don’t exist.

  • Roger Cicala


    If they said it that way in the blurb, I would never have nominated them. It isn’t the “what you said in your tech paper awards”. It’s the “what your marketing department said you said in your tech paper” awards. 🙂


  • I snarfed my drink while reading this. Brilliant.

  • I just have to defend “5-axis image stabilization”. There are 3 degrees of freedom (axes) of rotation; add those to the two linear degrees of freedom that it says are stabilized and you get to 5.

    The spec sheet at spells this out better than the marketing material: * yaw/pitch/vertical shift/horizontal shift/rolling

Follow on Feedly