As hinted by myself in another thread
I'm often rather dissatisfied by the quality of the pics that appear in BS reviews. I am aware that criticizing people who have expensive cameras and lighting setups is mostly not very welcomed. Let's say: almost every (semi) professional photographer has the opinion that his/hers photos are the best. That's OK!
As a professional printer since 1992, I have to serve people with different levels of knowledge about colour workspace, RGB/CMYK and colour profiles. The switch from digital images to printed images is far more complicated than preparing camera images for publishing on a web site.
OK, sorry for the long introduction but I wanted to explain where I'm from.. :-)
I sampled a couple of pics from reviews of the same set by Brickset (BS) and Brothers Bricks (BB).
Here you can see that the white parts on BS are lacking detail that are visible on BB. Shadow is the main difference here. On the left the blue look slike medium azure or dark azure / on the right it is dark turquoise / teal -- which it is.
Colours are off
On the left BS, on the right BB. The green plates and tiles are much to0 dark when compared to the real LEGO colour for green. The light bluish grey tiles on top are too dark on BS. The colours of the tiles on the floor too dark to.
Colours are off 2
Here's another example that in my opinion clearly shows how the colours are not right on BS.
Left is BS and right BB. The Bricklink colour dark red (bench and arrow) shows almost brownish on BS while it is about right on BB. The colour of the cups on the wall are too light on BS when compared to the real colours you have on hand in your collection. The BB photo is much better. Also the red cap on the right is more red than on the left. Orange is orange on BB but over saturated on BS.
Left (BS): black is dark grey, brown is some indifferent brownish colour. On the right both colours are much more closer to the real brick colour. Yellow hair on the left is over saturated. On the right it's good!
Please don't read this as sort of attack on you -- Brickset is doing great! But I really think you could do better when it comes down to photography.
Tips...: check your camera default white settings. Check/change your studio lighting setup.
Final note: I'm on the Autism spectrum (like quite a few other BS members) and *I* think this is important. But I understand that other people are different and more like "what is this member whining about?". That's OK. I only wanted to contribute to getting better photos in the future on this site.
*technical note: I downloaded the pictures from both sites and opened them in
Photoshop. I pasted them side-by-side in new window. I didn't use a
pre-setting (colour profile) and I didn't use compression to save
them in jpg format. So it's original as it is.
Overall, the Brickset pictures look more 'clinical' and precise while the BB pics are less well lit and more 'organic' if that makes sense.... I do however think that this is very much down to personal preference rather than one style of photography being 'better' than another.
The pictures of the bookshop are mine, the other two taken by Chris. We both have different lighting and camera settings so I would not expect identical results.
I use a MFT Panasonic G9, with custom white balance set from the white of my vinyl backdrop. I expose 'to the right' -- that is, get the end of the histogram as far right as possible without clipping the highlights -- in-camera wherever possible but will tweak in Photoshop Elements if needed. I illuminate using flash shooting through 1 x1m soft-boxes, usually with an aperture of f/11 or f/13.
I'm not a colour expert but do calibrate my Eizo monitor with a Spyder.
Chris, on the other hand, uses my cast-off Nikon V1 and continuous LED lighting, also with custom white balance, which can't be set as easily as it can with mine. I am overdue providing him with something more current.
I expose my images as far right as I can to make them pop on screen, and I am happy with the first image you mention: the white is not over-exposed and the colours look right on my monitor. The TBB image looks under-exposed to me, and a bit drab.
The second image you mention was difficult to light due to the size and positioning of my softboxes, and I think the difference in colour of the green plate is just because it's in the shadows. Nothing that a quick levels adjustment won't fix:
The other two are @CapnRex101's images and they look OK to me, although I agree the girl's hair has been clipped and some detail lost, but it's minor. Looking at just the shade of the grey background in both of the minifig images, neither is pure grey. (Chris's is noticeably bluer, which I feel is preferable to a red or yellow cast)
I can't see any difference in the dark red bench in the other images.
I think the differences we are discussing here are so minor that they can probably be explained by how the different cameras sense colours and produce JPGs. I could process RAWs in DxO Optics PhotoLab, as I do my shots of normal subjects but, honestly, who has time for that for 30+ images when up against the clock to get a review finished and posted.
Overall I am satisfied with my setup, workflow and how the resultant images look on my screen and, unless others find fault with them I'll stick to it for now. They might not be suitable for print, but they are not intended to be printed.
I hope that doesn't come across as too dismissive -- when you first mentioned you had 'issues' with our pictures I was worried, but as others have said I think much of it comes down to personal preference and what you are used to. And, while I like to strive for perfection there simply isn't time to achieve it for every photoshoot and image given how many we produce.
I can spend 20 seconds cropping and adjusting each image to get something 95% of people will find acceptable, or 10 minutes fussing over them to appease the remaining 5%...
TBB and Brickset are not a single individual but a group of writers and reviewers. Different cameras, setups and post production preferences will make a difference to the final images.
I have not had an issue looking at images from Huw and Chris on BS reviews as I find them to be clear and clinical, but I particularly enjoyed @iso3200 images as these were stunning. I even took the time to message private to say how beautiful they were like a ‘fan girl’.
Interesting topic and certainly not my area of expertise but I’m always keen for tips and constructive criticism. Good info from the OP, thanks
Elspeth correctly notes, though, that time is a huge factor on review photos. I know that I could get better photos if I spent more time on them both in the studio and in post-production, but that extra few minutes per photo adds up, especially on large sets that often have 50-75 photos. And that can end up being the difference between publishing today vs tomorrow.
She's also right on another point, which is that our reviews don't come from a single source. I do the photography for a lot of them and have a decent (but not professional) set up, but TBB has a much larger team of writers who do reviews from time to time, and we're not all working with the same equipment. Because TBB is an all-volunteer organization, we can't equip every reviewer with pro-level gear, so you will see variance depending on who the reviewer is. I'm probably overdue on upgrading my lighting setup, which would solve some of the noted lighting concerns.
I have to say, though, that I am not a fan of the dark blue background you use. It makes the pictures look too drab, IMO.