Herman Au Photography

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Welcome to my blog! I'm a professional wedding photographer based in Los Angeles California. Follow my footsteps in turning my life long hobby into a career I love, and check out my latest work, newest products, teasers, and photography tutorials. I shoot in an unobtrusive photojournalistic style with an emphasis on natural and genuine emotions. You can find my portfolio on my website - http://www.hermanau.com.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thanks Ken Rockwell, but...

A lot of you who are into photography would have stumbled across Ken Rockwell's website one way or another. Before I begin, I should really thank him for contributing so much free and useful information to the Internet. His site is undoubtedly generating lots of traffic and probably earning quite a bit of advertisement dollars, and I really think he deserves the recognition and credit. It's one of the websites I always check to see "what Ken thinks" before making my purchasing decisions. It's especially a wonderful site if you're searching for old vs new Nikon equipment.

Alright, enough of giving him all the credits, let's go back to why I'm writing this. I'm writing this to contribute my share back to the online photography community to warn you guys to watch out for his website, and especially what he directs you to believe is the "fact". Ken mixes in a fair share of great information along with his very personal opinions when it comes to comparisons. That's what really makes him deadly. If you're simply starting out in photography and choosing equipment, and you stumble across his website and start learning everything there without a clear head with an open mind when you find other relative information, you'll simply start thinking "the Ken Rockwell way".

"What's wrong with that?", you might ask. I'll give you a quick example here.

On his Nikon SB-600 versus SB-800 Comparison page, you will find plenty of information that you will want to know about the differences between the two. However, if you read it with a clear head, you'll soon notice he's strongly biased against the 800 and presents to you almost no pros for choosing that over the 600. Pay attention to lines like these -

Illuminated LCD
Dedicated icons and 7 segment numbers: bold, easy to read
Coarse generic dot-matrix, harder to read
I don't know what your eyes are made of, Ken... but we don't really live in that 7 segment LCD calculator display age anymore. I really don't know why a dot-matrix LCD screen is harder to read for YOUR EYES.

Idiotic repeating strobe mode
What do you mean by IDIOTIC REPEATING STROBE MODE? For those who are interested in experimenting with flash photography, like capturing water drop sequence, freezing athletic motion, and all kinds of eye opening effects, the SB-600 simply lacks that capability. What you don't use doesn't mean it's "IDIOTIC"

14.) Wedding photographers carry fat external batteries for fast recycling and tons of shots. The SB-800 has a socket for this. The SB-800 even has a bizarre external single AA holder which lets you use odd sets of 5-AA cells for somewhat faster recycling compared to just using the 4 internal cells (It seems weird to me: my sets and charger come in 4s, not 5s.) Other companies like Quantum make big external batteries that plug right into the SB800 while the SB600 has no such connection. In the old days we just rigged up our own connections to flashes, usually with wooden dowels the size of AA batteries and thumb tacks, and used a 6V gel-cell around our waists. Personally I just swap alternating sets of Ni-MH AAs and I'm happy.

Ken, wedding photographers carry the external batteries for fast recycling time because they need the luxury for ultra fast recharge time so they minimize the chances that they miss THE shot. Yes, you can swap your Ni-MH AAs and be happy, but for those who need the flash and they need it NOW, they need that SB-800 and that big fat battery around the waist you describe.

Yes, his entire website is filled with great information about equipment, but also a whole bunch of very personal opinions based on his photographic style. As much as I enjoy reading his site, and as much as I look up to what Ken has to say about something, we should all proceed with caution and read his site with a very, very open mind. Be sure to watch out for those opinionated lines and see what others have to say especially when money in your wallet is on the line.