The Evil of DxOMark

DxO Labs is a French company, in a Paris suburb, that started in 2003 doing software to correct lens/camera problems. To do it, they developed some equipment/software combination to measure these lens aberrations and how these aberrations were affected by the various cameras. Jérôme Ménière, the CEO, saw a huge opportunity to both raise DxO's profile and to sell the services to manufacturers, government agencies…

What's wrong with measuring

The problem with measuring is that people, with an axe to grind, have a number that they can beat others with.

If you are from New York, you do not know or care about everybody in New York, but when traveling in Europe, you are from New York and you meet somebody else from New York, you suddenly have a connection, a common point that will make you trust that person. But if you are from New York and you meet a person from New Jersey while traveling in Europe, you will quickly become their friend even if in New York you always make fun of people from New Jersey… It's the tribe. Do you belong to my tribe or not? If you do not belong to my tribe, then you are my enemy. This is what DxOMark preys on…

Do I hear Canon vs. Nikon?

Photography is not about numbers, of course except for f/stop, shutter speed, and ISO.

The most important has nothing to do the camera, the lens or the light. The most important factor in photography is access. If you don't have access to it, you will not make a photo of it. If you are not at the wedding, how will you make any photo of it? What about the most gorgeous sunset beach? From your basement? I don't think so. You can process the photo and improve the photo. You can't create a photo from nothing, it's not a photo anymore, it's an image, usually called graphic arts…

Some of the best photos were made with cameras, lens and films that by today's standard would flunk any test. Look at “The Americans” by Robert Frank and I don't think that many of his photos could be enlarged to 16” by 20” without completely falling apart. It's the same for Capa, Doisneau, Lartigue…

It's not the camera, it's not the lens, it's not the film/sensor, it's not the light, it's the “emotional content.”

What's wrong with assigning a mark

Let's change the subject for a minute. I'm a car buff, I follow many car magazines, TV car shows, Formula 1 racing… Kimi Raikkonen just won the 2013 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix on his Lotus-Renault. The second place went to Fernando Alonso with Ferrari and the third place went to Sebastian Vettel with Red Bull-Renault.

So Renault, the French car manufacturer is the clearly the best car manufacturer. Renault makes a car called the Clio and Nissan has the same car under the name Versa. By the same logic, they must be better than the Mercedes B200 which cost 2½ more… Is a Lamborgini Diablo a better car than a Honda Odyssey? If you look at the numbers, definitely yes. Now I can tell you from personal experience that no it's not a better car. A few years ago, I was given one, for a weekend. It was a terrible car to drive in town. Hard to get in or out, it was too low so I couldn't see anything. Gas mileage? Premium only and if you need to ask, you can't afford it. It was even worst on the freeway. Press a little bit on the accelerator and the speeding tickets… It's so low that most drivers couldn't see me…

Have you noticed that the people that use the DxOMark are using it to prove their point. These people are never using their photos as proof of the DxO ratings.

Please note DxO Labs has never published its methodology so that others can replicate it and confirm or deny the ratings.