Are YouTuber Camera Press Trips Ethical? | The PetaPixel Podcast

This week on The PetaPixel Podcast, Chris Niccolls and Jordan Drake give their insight into camera press trips and whether or not they believe they allow for ethical evaluation of equipment.

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A Conversation About YouTube, Journalism, and Ethics

This topic directly ties to the controversy surrounding the Panasonic Lumix S9 event.

I certainly encourage you to listen to the podcast to hear what Chris and Jordan have to say, but here is my take: I think it’s reasonable to wonder about a company’s motivations when it comes to press trips. And while we’ve touched on this topic before, it’s still an important conversation to have. That’s why it’s important that when we at PetaPixel do an actual review of something, we test outside the scenarios a company constructs and do real-world work. Because yeah, companies — all companies — try to cultivate good press. This is not something that just exists in camera reviews, but in any review of a consumer product from tech through automotive and beyond.

I find the relationship with camera brands to be very simple: review equipment honestly, say the truth, ask questions and verify results, and have an open line of communication, and no matter what you find in the end, you’ll be in a good position.

The problems arise when that communication breaks down. Have you ever watched a TV show and been angry at characters because they’re making a bunch of decisions based on assumptions and just run with them? And you just end up on the couch asking, “why would you just not talk to each other?!”

That is the position I am in here. In over a decade of work, I’ve found that every single situation that could be seen as problematic was easily resolved by talking.

You also have to remember that many of these companies are based in Japan and are, in the end, run by the culture of that country. Understanding how they think, what they expect, and how they perceive you is critically important. If you’re seen as rude, it will be extremely difficult to overcome that.

I also want to point out that Lumix knew Chris and Jordan would not like this camera and they were invited anyway. Why? Because they know how to navigate the situation to balance being forthright and truthful while also not being rude. That takes understanding, empathy, planning, and open dialogue. If that is too much to ask, then yeah, you may find yourself upset by how working with companies goes.

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Wait, Medium Format Wildlife Photography?

Fujifilm has made its medium format GFX system so performant that it is capable of delivering excellent results for birding and wildlife. As a result, it recently announced a new 500mm f/5.6 lens to support this endeavor. It’s certainly possible now to get great results, but how does shooting on wildlife with a GFX compare to the experience on a full-frame, APS-C, or Micro Four Thirds system? What are the advantages and disadvantages, what options other than the 500mm lens exist, and how likely is it that the experience gets even better in the years ahead? Chris and Jordan do their best to answer all these questions and more.

In This Episode

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 08:07 – The Leica D-Lux 8 looks familiar
  • 16:39 – YouTube reviews and press trips: are they ethical?
  • 45:40 – Is wildlife photography on medium format a real thing now?
  • 1:04:10 – What have you been up to?
  • 1:09:53 – Tech support
  • 1:10:00 – Is there any advantage to shooting uncompressed RAW?
  • 1:11:16 – How does Jordan process audio for YouTube?
  • 1:13:42 – Are there any tricks to making a video using footage from multiple camera brands?
  • 1:16:30 – Will we ever see a leaf shutter lens in the L-mount to mitigate rolling shutter effects?
  • 1:23:05 – Never read the comments