After 25 years of extremely detailed reviews of digital cameras and accessories, the irreplaceable DPReview is being shut down by Amazon as the company proceeds with a new round of layoffs.
DPReview was founded in 1998 in England, and bought by Amazon in 2010, which relocated the team to Seattle to be closer to its headquarters; I have met many of them over the years as they settled in and around my neighborhood.
The team’s knowledge, acumen, and extensive objective testing contributed to reviews that famously reached near-comical lengths at times, but that was because shortcuts simply were not taken: you could be sure that even minor models were getting not just a fair shake, but the same treatment a flagship model received. Its back catalog of camera reviews and specs is an incredible resource that I have consulted hundreds of times. (I actually did a little freelance work for them myself 10 years back but since then they’ve simply been my valued media peers.)
This consistency and dedication drew and retained a large and dedicated community, one which produced comment threads thousands-strong on reviews and news items as they quibbled good-naturedly (and testily too, it must be said) with each other and the staff over sharpness and equivalency and the merits of one sensor arrangement or another.
Of course cameras themselves have risen and fallen in favor as they have vied with smartphones for imaging dominance — and, in terms of popularity, lost. But while far fewer people are buying standalone digital cameras in 2023 than they were in 2013, or for that matter 2003, the enthusiast and professional market remains strong and the cameras themselves have gotten incredibly good. There’s never been a better time to buy a camera — and there has never been, nor do I imagine there will ever be, a better site to help you choose one than DPReview.
Somehow Amazon never really found a way to capitalize on this one-of-a-kind asset, and DPReview has carried on over the years more or less untouched, to the point where it seems possible its parent company forgot they owned them. It’s hard not to see the opportunities that present themselves when you own one of the world’s leading expert voices on a major category, but perhaps unsurprisingly, no one thought to invest in and integrate DPReview closely with Amazon’s other properties. It isn’t the first time the left hand and right hand have been incommunicado at that company.
The team was laid off in its entirety as part of the latest round of cuts at Amazon, which like other companies has been tightening its belt — or, perhaps also like other companies, using the excuse of macroeconomic headwinds to perform reductions that at any other time would seem needless.
DPReview is hardly the first media property to get the axe during these turbulent times, but it is surely one of the oldest and most unique. Here’s hoping the talented and knowledgeable team lands on their feet, and Amazon comes to regret its decision.