Comparisons, Reviews, Walk-arounds, and data sheets

Dear readers,

In a few paragraphs, I will describe a slight policy/strategy change for JAPB, but first, let me tell you why…

For me, JAPB is a sideline. Besides having four kids, I also have a professional existence of sorts (my LinkedIn page says “Freelance lecturer/designer/consultant”, which means “it’s complicated”).

Interestingly, my main field (both professionally and academically) is management – especially project management. For those readers who are not in the know, one key challenge in project management is related to the estimating of how much work specific tasks/pieces of work will need. Those estimates are used to generate an overall schedule for the project, which is then used to tell the project’s client/owner when they can expect a finished product/solution/other result. In other words, the quality of those estimates is crucial to having a happy client, a happy (not overworked) project team, and a happy (lucrative) project-oriented business.

While my (and JAPB’s) initial idea (concerning gear) was to focus on comprehensive comparisons between comparable lenses, such as the JAPB comparison of 9 fast 35 mm lenses and the JAPB comparison of 9 fast fifties, and extend those with in-depth reviews of lenses (partly those covered in the comparisons, partly others), this approach has turned out to be problematic. The main problem is that I’ve significantly underestimated the workload such comparisons and reviews entail. Hence, I am far short of having done as many comparisons and reviews as I had hoped.

According to my bookkeeping, the average time a JAPB comparison needs is in the rough neighbourhood of 100 hours (ca. 3 times what I had guesstimated) and the time needed for a JAPB review is around 25 hours (also significantly more than expected). While I can expect some improvement as I traverse along the learning curve and find more efficient ways of conducting those reviews and comparisons, I do not like these numbers. Especially considering that – given that JAPB does not contribute to my finances – have maybe 8 hours per week to spare on this adventure. Hence, I’ve decided it’s time to try another approach:

Comparisons, Reviews, Walk-arounds, and data sheets

In the future, JAPB will cover lenses in four types of articles:

Comparisons will serve the same function as before: to rigorously compare no lenses’ performance, handling and characteristics with those of comparable lenses (read more on that here). JAPB still aims to make a set of comparisons including
• more comparisons of fast fifties,
• a comparison of superfast fifties,
• a comparison of exceptional nifty fifties,
• a comparison of legacy standard zooms,
• a comparison of classic wide-angle (28 mm) lenses,
• a comparison of not-so-fast 35 mm lenses
• a comparison of short tele’s (85 mm), and
• a comparison of medium tele’s (135 mm)
At the same time, we’re honest about that the schedule on this task is entirely open…

Reviews will also have the same function as before – to offer a comprehensive and critical analysis of a lens’ faults and merits. By time, JAPB aims to have published a review of:
• each lens covered in a comparison
• many other “interesting” lenses.
Simultaneously, given the time needed to do a review, we’ll also want to write stuff about lenses we haven’t had the time to rigorously review. Hence …

JAPB will start publishing data sheets on lenses. Data sheets serve two functions: They introduce the lens in question, and give details on it, as well as comment on the lens’ history (when that might be of interest to someone). Further, data sheets will always also discuss adapting the lens to modern digital cameras.

Hence, data sheets serve a purpose both for JAPB readers and myself: to readers they offer the cold hard facts as well as a guide to adapting, to me they offer a stepping stone (as this data would be needed for a review anyway).

JAPB will also start publishing a type of lens-article we refer to as a ‘walk-around‘. Walk arounds will not be reviews in that they will not critically assess a lens’ faults and merits. Walk-arounds will also not delve into the lens’ specifications or history. Instead they focus on detailing the “lived experience” of using the lens and offer sample pictures. Walk-arounds are subjective and do not pretend otherwise. Even so, we’re sure they will have value to many reader.

While the review remains king (of single-lens articles), the other formats each contribute to the picture.

In case you’re interested about in the general principles that JAPB gear articles abide by, read more here.

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