I picked up a photo magazine at my local Barnes & Noble today. Only afterwards did I realize it is their first issue.

The racks are overcrowded with me-too publication bearing funky names like e-Digit@l Photo-zine. They almost invariably serve the same mixture of fawning (yet superficial) product reviews and tutorials that manage to be even more obscure than the poorly translated manuals whose shortcomings they are supposed to address. As if anybody will wait three months for reviews of a camera that is probably already discontinued by the time they reach print, rather than getting them from places like DPReview… Even an old standby like Popular Photography had to re-brand by adding the seemingly obligatory “& Imaging” to its masthead. Magazine publishing is a cutthroat business, and no doubt consolidation will drive most of the dross out. Eventually.

Digital Photo Pro is a refreshing exception to this sad state of affairs. Interestingly, it is published from Los Angeles, not New York, the publishing capital of the USA. The first issue has decent technical content, that would not be out of place in specialized websites like Photo.net. It also has more creative features like a lengthy interview of Jay Maisel. In a way, it is reminiscent of American Photo magazine, but the feature articles are longer and the product reviews cover interesting products rather than every ho-hum digicam around.

The only false note is the presence of two “advertorials” by Minolta, one for flashmeters, one for scanners. I can understand the harsh realities of the publishing business, but sections like those, even when labeled properly as is the case, do not contribute to a magazine’s credibility.

We will have to see if the magazine can sustain the relatively good quality of the first issue, or if it will run out of steam, but the subscription fee is small enough ($15 for 6 issues) to make the risk limited. And we do want to help quality publications drive out the junk, don’t we?