That Complete F'kin Idiot's Recent "bought locally at retail" Comments

Concept: 0 out of 5
Execution: 0 out of 5
Yeah, but: I don't support link-bait; use google if you must.

The Long Version: Last week the worst individual in photography blogging, someone who has enthusiastically and unapologetically misled and misinformed for years, may have finally jumped the shark. Circa August 14th, 2012, he wrote:

'As usual, most of the people who have shifted focus-points [sic], dead-pixels [sic] or other 'widespread' problems are people who bought locally at retail. Your local dealer or chain lacks the volume of [REDACTED] and other huge online sellers, so they don't get the "A" stock that [REDACTED] does. That's another reason I buy from [REDACTED]: they don't get stuck with the samples with defects sent out to local retail stores with a lot less buying-power than the major online powerhouses.'

Obviously, I've modified the quotation somewhat, but the source is easy enough to find and specifically identifies only one retailer, whose name rhymes with 'Hadorama'. It continues:

'As a general rule, if Nikon or Canon or Sony or whoever [sic] have a few thousand cameras not quite [sic] perfect, but nowhere bad enough [sic] to scrap, they don't get sent to the top couple of dealers who sell millions and millions and millions of cameras. They customarily go to the dealers that sell only tens of thousands of cameras.'

I love conspiracy theories because they're usually unfathomably stupid, and this one is a shining example. Even setting aside all of the absurdly nefarious allegations, what he's alleging is that from the management of the quality-control division to the order pickers in warehouses and distribution centres across the globe, there is a way to identify and track units with substandard performance and choose their specific end destinations. From companies that can't meet their shipping dates in the first place.

Think about the simple logistics of this for a few minutes. This secret stock-tracking system has to be easy enough that everyone in the supply chain can use it, but precise enough to direct individual cameras in an industry that sells over a hundred and forty million units a year. That level of accuracy, let alone specificity, would be astonishing: I've never seen an inventory control system that could even keep an accurate count of the total units after a few months of shipments.

Meanwhile, this global and industry-wide deceptive business practice is enforced under a strict code of silence despite the breadth and scope of the operation. All for a mere 'few thousand units'. Does anyone really believe that 'Nikon or Canon or Sony' – or whomever – are that competent, let alone that motivated?

So with all of that out of the way, I have to admit that what I'm really fascinated by is that this link-hungry troll-whoring novice-exploiting equipmibater might have actually realized that he went too far. After all, while his opinions are frequently unfounded, they usually range only from plausible to merely wrong, and don't extend to such outrageously self-serving allegations of fraud.

While the original text remains easy to find elsewhere, the relevant passage on his personal site has been quietly changed. The entry now reads:

'As usual, most of the people who have shifted focus-points, dead-pixels or other "widespread" problems seem to have been people who tended to have bought locally at retail. I've never had any of these problems buying from [REDACTED], [REDACTED] or [REDACTED], but when people call me wondering why my phone number is in their camera, these have been people silly enough to have bought at a huge electronics chain. (Someone loaded my settings file into a camera, and then the store resold it as new, at full price.)'

All this grafted-on second idea really means is that 'huge electronics chains' aren't bright enough to properly reset a camera, and that his readers are the people dumb enough to shop at said big-box unit-shifters. (Please note that this is something he and I actually agree on.) On the other hand, my local electronics store regularly has "open box specials". I wonder what happens to the cameras that The Affiliated Three get back under their long no-risk return periods. Perhaps they're taken out back and shredded to ensure that they're never resold?

'Local dealers and retail chains lack the volume of the huge online sellers, so they probably don't get the pick of the best stock that the huge online dealers get. That's another reason I buy from [REDACTED], [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]: I doubt they get stuck with samples with defects possibly sent out to local retail stores with a lot less buying-power than the major online powerhouses. I doubt any known bad cameras ever get shipped, but if they do, who knows.'

Notice how he's shifted from alleging outright deception and conspiracy to a more bucolic 'the pick of the best stock', as if we're looking through produce at the local market instead of consumer electronics that ship by the skid. But while he no longer names names, he's not willing to back off the idea entirely – at least, not until the last sentence, where he completely folds. 'I doubt any known bad cameras ever get shipped…'

So he's engaged in blatant FUD-mongering for the sake of driving sales to the links that fund his site, all while swearing that he's unbiased because he doesn't evaluate demo units from manufacturers. (That is at least partially true: sometimes he evaluates nothing at all in the course of writing his reviews.) And when the going gets tough, when there's a stand to take, he silently edits out the worse of his lies and just leaves behind a nasty, slimy trail of insinuation.

I used to have a live-and-let-live attitude. But I work part-time in a locally owned camera store, and spent many years working in high-value warehouses before that. Not only do I know that he's wrong, I take his snide and self-serving allegations as a personal attack against my own professionalism, knowledge, and skill: it's much more than 'just' an attack that's directed at my employer, trying to drive away customers from a legitimate business that continues to exist alongside those who fund his imaginary off-shore tax-exempt empire. As far as I can see, that makes his supporters, admirers – and yes, affiliate retailers – worthy of all of the scorn and derision that used to be reserved for him alone.

Updated 21 August: Never let it be said that I'm not willing to publicly correct myself when I go too far. I've been having a conversation via Twitter with Helen Oster, a Customer Service Ambassador with Adorama. She has used phrases like 'absolutely, completely 100% not true', calls it 'pure conjecture' and puts 'his "facts"' in quotation marks. So forget that bit about subjecting his affiliates to scorn and derision – based on my small inquiries, they're not playing along with this absurd foolishness.

last updated 31 august 2012
updated lead photo


  1. When I wasnted to start photography, around this month in 2008, as a much younger teen; I discovered his blog.

    I was rightly sucked into that blog, and became a solid follower and saw him as a demigod.
    Due to his now not so common Velvia Love (he used to praise it a lot back then) I became interested in film and ended taking that route. I have to kinda thank him for letting me now this media, which I enjoy more.

    However, he must be taken with a grain of salt. He's got useful stuff, but many times it's just good enough for entretainment and not much else.

    I discovered the thing about money behind and simply dropped that strong belief I had in him. Nowadays, for quite a lot of time, I just read the site for entretainment.

    It is a strong insult to the retail industry. Specially how you must feel, as he devalues completely your work.

    For certain stuff, buying retail is better. The physical and human factor is there. And with the economic situation, the benefits are kept closer (buying locally).

    By the way, nice blog. Discovered it throgh the GA645zi review and am beginnning to read it. I had to comment this entry too.

  2. It's not the first time KR has back pedaled on stuff. His referrals must be down - he needs to get people talking.

  3. George, thanks for adding your experience. And the GA645zi is a great camera – I just wish I could remember if mine is currently loaded with colour or black and white film…

    I don't deny that he occasionally makes interesting, and even valid, points. I share his (and your) interest in film, but I'd never consider dubbing it "REALRAW™" and then insisting that it's what REALPHOTOGRAPHERS™ use. Like a teenage satire, he has to 'turn it up to 11' on everything he likes.

    But there's an insidious undertow to reading his site, even if it's just for amusement. He's right about a lot of things, mostly right about even more, and completely wrong about much of it as well. With experience the two ends of the spectrum are easy enough to sort out, but it's that middle category that can cause tremendous problems.

    There are certain "News" sources that I find amusing, but I had to stop paying attention to them because even though I knew they were wrong, eventually it started almost making sense. I fear that the Rockstar's site is the same: one morning I would wake up thinking that LEICA and ISO are both acronyms – neither are – and having no idea what the word 'socialist' actually means.

    The mental energy needed to constantly play gatekeeper is exhausting.

  4. Libby, I don't pay enough attention to keep track of him, so that's good to know. And yes, I completely agree that he's just trying to boost his traffic – it's why I refuse to link to him.

    (For the record, my recent forays into his website have been because other people have brought his opinions to my attention and asked me to refute them.)

  5. Ken Rockwell's blog is alot like that old comic strip 'Nancy'. They are both stupid but you end up reading them anyway.

  6. Rockwell goes on about a green tint to his LCD screen on his D800 and D4 but everyone I talk to (in Australia) doesn't have this 'problem'. Did Nikon single out these green tint LCD screens for just the US market?

  7. Glad you connected with Helen Oster. I made a connection on a Canon Forum, POTN (google it if interested.) She is extremely helpful. She has helped me save a *lot* on orders that would have been punitively expensive due to UPS shipping to Canada. Hats off to Helen. She is a great ambassador for Adorama.


Thewsreviews only permits comments from its associate authors. If that's you, awesome and thanks. If not, you can find the main email address on this page, or talk to us on Twitter.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

contact me...

You can click here for Matthew's e-mail address.