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RIP: DPReview (1998 – 2023)

Amazon is shutting down DPReview, a hugely popular online photography publication which has been in operation for nearly 25 years, including 16 years under ownership by the retailing juggernaut.

DPReview, a wholly-owned yet editorially independent subsidiary of Amazon, will remain active until April 10, 2023. No further updates will be made after that date, and the website will go offline shortly afterwards.

Amazon’s decision to kill DPReview is part of wider job cuts that will impact 18,000 Amazon employees, with the corporation citing economic uncertainty.

‘Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so. These changes will help us pursue our long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure; however, I’m also optimistic that we’ll be inventive, resourceful, and scrappy in this time when we’re not hiring expansively and eliminating some roles.’

Although it’s highly doubtful that DPReview, or anything resembling a photography-centric publication, is part of the Amazon’s pursuit of ‘long-term opportunities’. When Amazon acquired DPReview in 2007, the photo industry was buoyant without any noticeable danger ahead. And just a month after the acquisition, along came an iceberg – Apple released the first iPhone – marking the death of the compact camera market.

Throw in a pandemic and inflation, and Amazon has resolved to cut off any dead weight to remain nimble.

It’s doubtful DPReview was turning a profit, with the ad revenue unlikely to cover the cost of its 12 staff members. An unmeasured value for Amazon was with DPReview pointing camera buyers to the retail giant’s webstore and away from competitors like Adorama, B&H or eBay.

Beyond the affiliate links, Amazon’s ownership was hardly noticeable. It never came across as a sleazy conduit for Amazon sales, which is commendable given Amazon could have easily had a greater presence.

It’s unknown whether Amazon attempted to sell DPReview, or if there was genuine commercial interest in a new publisher picking it up. It seems unlikely to have crossed managements’ mind. The job cuts come off as a sudden knee jerk reaction.

DPReview‘s closure is a huge blow for the photographic community and industry. There is nothing quite like it. It’s a fantastic trove in information, with an up-to-date archive of camera gear data – tech sheets, reviews, sample shots, gear guides, tutorials and news. Considerable resources were poured in to making it a user-friendly experience, where visitors can browse camera/lens production timelines, or use the excellent studio shot comparison tool.

While we don’t have the data to back it up, DPReview is probably the world’s most popular online photography publication. By presenting technical data in the utmost professional manner, this is a claim it deserves. It’s a trusted resource for anyone seeking camera gear information.

Inside Imaging‘s editorial team checks in to DPReview several times per week to keep up to date, and to look for any exciting or interesting news making headlines. If we needed to clarify technical details that came across as unclear in, say, an overly-verbose press release, DPReview‘s report was always the first port of call to cross reference. The archive has been useful to find out when gear was released and for what price.

Additionally, DPReview has a lively community, where all kinds of photographers, united in their passion, cover all the topics conceivable. The article comments provided an interesting gauge on how certain photographers felt about certain topics. And the forums are a resource that at times rival the actual publication. Ever wanted advice about the quality of cheap eBay mount adapters for connecting obscure analogue lenses to a Fujifilm X series camera? The discussion already happened. Several times.

It’s unfortunate Amazon will not at least keep DPReview online, even if it remains inactive, for the sake of the archive. There are apparently third-party initiatives to archive the publication’s four millions pages, and re-publish them.

The publication’s closure leaves a big gap in the photo media space. A silver lining is it presents a great opportunity for a new group to fill.

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