It’s that time again; when a hot new item is announced and the YouTube camera community falls all over themselves to be the one to tell you if you should spend your hard earned money to own it. For any gearhead it’s a familiar dance. For Sony shooters it’s doubly so. Let me explain. Sony has developed a ritual of sending out pre-production copies of their new gear to select YouTubers about two to three weeks before the products announcement date. The YouTubers are sworn to secrecy and commanded to not let any info out until the exact minute of the official announcement. They are allowed to test the gear and even film and edit their videos so that the second the embargo is lifted it’s like the gates opening at the Kentucky derby, and a flood of videos come out. I thought I’d take the current rat race over the Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM, to help you sort out what YouTubers are the ones that might be best suited for you to follow and trust, because believe me there are many out there that are not much more than click-bait and honestly have no interest in helping you make a well informed purchase.
Keep in mind that this is all of course based on my opinion but it is an opinion based on thousands of hours of watching these people and scrutinizing their videos over the last several years.
Let’s start with an easy one. If you’re looking for someone to really get down and dirty with technical aspects of a review then give a follow to these YouTubers in particular. You’ll hear about things like dynamic range, MTF charts and field curvature. You may end up having to do some outside learning just to keep up with them but you’ll end up a much more knowledgeable photographer for it.
Gerald Undone Technically speaking Gerald rates a 9 out of 10. Realistically he’s the first video I click on when I want the tech, but I’ll stop at a rating of 9 to leave room for future discoveries. In my opinion his integrity is top notch. I really feel like I’m getting his honest opinion completely independent of things like brand loyalty or worse yet contributions from brands. He always tends to include great laboratory (studio) style tests. Gerald is usually my first overall click when I’m researching new gear because I like the tech talk.
Ted Forbes (The Art of Photography) Ted does a great job of giving you a mix of real world examples and technical expertise. I also give Ted a 9 out of 10 technical score. Similarly my trust level is very high. I always feel like I’m getting his honest opinion independent of outside influences. You’ll definitely find yourself pushing your level of knowledge watching Ted’s videos.
Real World Shooters:
Here are a couple of reviewers that are working photographers and will give you some great shooting scenarios and sample images and videos.
Manny Ortiz If you tend to gravitate toward gear reviews that rely more on real world shooting demos and examples, then Manny is a great option. Most times Manny will walk you through an actual portrait shoot using the gear and show you exactly what he was able to capture. Full disclosure, Manny’s review of the 35mm GM was not one of his best videos. He is also the opposite of brand loyal which can be good and bad. He tends to jump around a bit when it comes to what his favorite gear is.
Dan Watson Like Manny above, Dan is a working professional photographer / videographer that will usually give you tons of real world portrait shoot samples with his reviews. Dan will give you much more video with his reviews. His wife also often adds to their videos stressing more of the portrait stills aspect.
Kai W. Very surprisingly Kai did not review the new 35mm GM but he’s usually one of my first 10 clicks when it comes to gear reviewers. He throws in a lot of off the cuff humor with his general impressions. He’s brutally honest to the point of sometimes just trashing a piece of gear. I sure hope he didn’t do something to get himself banned from the Sony press events.
Camera Conspiracies I wouldn’t go so far as to say you don’t get any good information from him but frankly I watch his videos for the pure entertainment. For those of you, like me, that just can’t get enough camera talk give this channel a look.
These are reviewers that don’t necessarily have a specific angle in their reviews, but just give a really good comprehensive overview.
Gordon Laing Gordon is one of the pioneers of gear reviews and has his formula down. He’s very thorough. Perhaps more than any other reviewer I’ve mentioned, he will cover almost every aspect you’ll want to know about. If I had to watch one reviewer and hope to have all my bases covered Gordon might just be the best option.
DPReview Chris and Jordan do a great job of covering all the angles. I have been following these guys for years even back to their days at Camera Store TV (before DPReview hired them away). In my opinion not quite as thorough as Gordan, but very much worth a watch before you spend your hard earned cash.
I could easily go on much longer; there are dozens of reviewers I hit up when it comes to researching new gear. I wish Sony and other manufactures would just send me advanced copies 😛
Actually the one and only one time I did get an advanced copy of a lens, I threw my hat into the ring and made my own review video. It was the Zeiss 40mm f/2.0 Batis lens and our rep let me borrow his copy for a few days, so I did my best YouTube reviewer impression and made a video. Even on my humble little YouTube channel it did pretty good falling just short of 10,000 views.
If your curious here’s a link: Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2.0
If I left out your favorite YouTuber please feel free to share in the comments.