Outed: Sony a7R IV Drops From a 4.8/5 to a 2.5/5 After Removing Fake Reviews

Outed: Sony a7R IV Drops From a 4.8/5 to a 2.5/5 After Removing Fake Reviews

Electronic Hub recently posted a study divulging which electronics have the most unreliable reviews on Amazon, with some of our most beloved cameras sitting near the top. 

The Findings

Fakespot is a website which uses artificial intelligence to “detect fake reviews and scams.” Having analyzed Fakespot's data, Electronic Hub identified the electronics and brands with the highest density of Amazon reviews suspected of being fake or unreliable. Here is how the list stacked up:

  • Sony a7R IV:  45.5% fake/unreliable reviews

  • Canon EOS R6: 45% fake/unreliable reviews

  • Nikon Z5: 44% fake/unreliable reviews

Once the fake reviews are removed, the Amazon rating for the Sony aR IV dropped from a 4.8/5 to a 2.5/5. Being a Canon enthusiast, there was a little devil on my shoulder coaxing me to wrap up the article with that highlight, but alas, I have some more findings to reveal. According to this study, Canon takes the first slot as the brand with the largest percentage of unreliable reviews on Amazon: a whopping 34.17%. With a slightly shallower fall from grace, the EOS R6 drops from at 4.8/5 to a 3.5/5 once the fake reviews were removed. 

Who Are These Fake Reviewers?

As soon as this article came to me, I remembered hearing an interview on NPR where a contract "fake reviewer" was interviewed anonymously. I dug it up. It turns out that there are online channels where Amazon sellers congregate and barter for products on which they want favorable reviews. Going by his first name for the interview, Travis confesses"

I don't think it's right that people can write fake reviews on products, but I need the money. The sellers provide detailed instructions to avoid being detected by Amazon's algorithms.

NPR reports that according to outside auditors like Fakespot and ReviewMeta, more than half the reviews for certain popular products are questionable. Amazon disputes those estimates: "Our approximation is that less than one percent of reviews are inauthentic," says Sharon Chiarella, vice president of community shopping at Amazon.

According to a study by the Journal of Marketing Research, another source of these fake reviewers are fans of competing brands. We've all known a photographer who is obnoxiously over the top with their loyalty to their selected camera brand. Studies have now shown that these users perceive themselves as brand ambassadors with the task of tearing down the reputation of their competitors by leaving fake reviews. 

On Writing Reviews

As writers, we are tasked to write reviews unbiasedly, and we are hand-picked by our editors for each review based on our qualifications. The process to be a gear reviewer for Fstoppers not only involves passing the competitive cut to be a writer but also a six month of writing and revision of your work from the editors before even becoming eligible to receive gear for review. You can know that Fstoppers always hand-chooses qualified photographers when it comes to gear review. 

As writers, we sometimes tend to compose on the topics we are reflecting on in our own practices. Time and time again, though, I get messages from readers on my Instagram asking the beginner questions: "Where do I buy a camera?" "How do I prepare for my first shoot with a model?" "How much do I charge for my first paid shoot?" I have to rewind my mind to those questions I asked when I was just getting my toes wet. The seemingly obvious takeaway here is that Amazon is not the place for getting accurate camera reviews. Most of you probably already knew that. Is the Sony a7R IV really a 2.5/5 when the padding is removed? I don't know, but the moral of the story is that Amazon is not the place to find out.

Another closing note is that a camera that is perfect for one artist may not be the right one for you and vice versa. I've had photographers work for me who shot Nikon, and I just love how Nikon handles low light. Color is a predominant theme in my work, and for me, Canon is the best at color. Leica seems to have a reputation for the sensitivity to light and a creaminess of texture. The takeaway from this article is to go to the right source for your reviews and figure out what camera is best for the work you are doing. Don't trust Travis.

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67 Comments
Black Z Eddie .'s picture

This is why I rely on Youtuber reviews. ;)

Benoit .'s picture

lol

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Haha. Heck yeah. A handful of Youtubers with their reputation on the line is far worth than dozens, hundreds, thousands of Amazon random "reviewers".

Nowadays, whenever I'm researching a product, be it camera gear, chef's knives, etc, I look for Youtube videos.

Benoit .'s picture

I think none of them are really reliable. Recently I saw a video on YouTube on plumbing tips. It was about properly cutting and fitting PVC pipes. It was really good, properly showing why priming, applying glue on both side etc... Then the next video starts and it's a pro that seemed a season one. He cuts a pipe with a hacksaw (which is fine), then deburr the pipe with just his fingers, skips the primer (which is what melts the surface on both side to bond) and applies glue on one side only. He put so much of the glue that it was dripping and probably reduced the inner diameter in the pipe. I am not a plumber but even I know better. They just want speed up the job and skip steps. Someone else can cut in a wall or concrete floor later to fix it at the owner's cost of course. But if you are a novice and follow that "pro" your saving might end up costing a lot just months or a few years later.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

That's why I don't rely on just one reviewer. I'll usually watch about 3.

Michelle VanTine's picture

Black Z Eddie . do you have a favorite photographer for gear review?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I don't really have a favorite. I just Google the product and watch about 3 videos of known Youtubers.

Daniel Lee's picture

Dustin Abbott, Gordon Laing and Jared Polin are usually the most reliable and free from any brand bias.

Benoit .'s picture

Actually that's a good question. Never thought about it that way. I have more of a mechanical and practical approach. I have the feeling BZE may be a little that way too.

Evan Richardson's picture

Its tiktok or nothing for me /s

Steven Campbell's picture

I registered an account specifically to reply to you, because YT reviews are not reliable either. I am a youtuber (my channel has 65k subs and is active), and through learning and chatting I learned the truth is that Sony has a habit of shipping FREE cameras more than any other manufacturer.

Go watch the Gerald Undone video where he asks the top tier YouTube channels what gear they use, and close to 9/10ths of them say Sony.

Now, is sony that great? So great that EVERYONE just HAS TO invest in the Sony ecosystem vs Cannon, Nikon, Panasonic and Fuji?

I also talk to my local camera store here and they tell me that for instance, Panasonic is actually against the practice, they simply do not market this way, whereas yes, sony is notorious for free gear for reviews.

Just some words to make you think, but in this influencer age we live in, I trust no one.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

C'mon man, you sound like you're one of them folks with SDS, Sony Derangement Syndrome.

--- "Sony has a habit of shipping FREE cameras"

You are aware the reviewers have to send them back? I don't know of any reviewer that were sent $10K, $20K, $30K in equipment and got to keep 'em.

--- "Go watch the Gerald Undone video where he asks the top tier YouTube channels what gear they use, and close to 9/10ths of them say Sony. Now, is sony that great?"

Cry me a river. Yes, Sony is that great for many folks.

--- "So great that EVERYONE just HAS TO invest in the Sony ecosystem vs Cannon, Nikon, Panasonic and Fuji?"

This is where your SDS and conspiracy theories kicks in. Tell me exactly who is saying EVERYONE just HAS TO invest in the Sony ecosystem vs the other brands. I don't know what YT channels you watch, but, literally all of them lay down the pros and cons and their opinion. Then, it's up to you to weigh in and decide for yourself based on your preferences and or needs. That's how it works.

Panasonic? What does a CD player have to do with all this?

Roger Jones's picture

Every time I hear Sony I think of TV or Beta. Have you ever tried to get a Sony repaired? Good Luck with that.
As for Panasonic they seem as good as any other electric company, although they are in with Leica, and Sigma which seems to work well.
Although when I think of Panasonic I think of a Laptop I had, but a CD player??? Oh well

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--- "Every time I hear Sony I think of TV or Beta."

So reeks of desperation. From your post below, "Every time I hear Sony I think Minolta" LOL. This guy.

--- "Have you ever tried to get a Sony repaired?"

Yes, I have, and they did.

--- " Good Luck with that."

Didn't need Luck. I just filled out a form. They gave me an estimate and I sent it in. Guess happened next? They repaired and sent it back.

Michelle VanTine's picture

Great feedback and interesting perspective. Where do you go for trusted reviews?

D R's picture

Sony by far is the most aggressive when it comes to marketing, and luring in "influencers" to do so. There have been a few "influencers" who have come out and admitted to it.

I also know a guy who works at a camera store and he said they Sony also markets to them much more aggressively than any other company.

If people think that Youtubers honestly review products to help viewers, they are sadly mistaken. Most do it for their own bottom line, whether that means endorsements from a company, trips, or more views... and Sony is by far the most aggressive for this.

90% of photo/video Youtubers are under the Sony banner as influencers. Canon has a few like Pete Mckinnon, Irene Rudnyk, and Vanessa Joy. They are very open about their positions.

However, there are dozens, and dozens of Sony influencers who are generally more low key about their affiliations. I recently watched a Youtuber who has shot Canon her entire career, and she announced on her video that she was switching to Sony... she also added in a very low key way that "one of the reasons was" because Sony reached out to her and wanted to add her as an endorsed influencer. She hadn't considered switching and was happy with Canon up until that point. $$ talks.

Jim Tincher's picture

😂😂😂

James Bruton's picture

Anyone making a purchase online based on that seller's website product reviews are most likely making that purchase based on manufactured information to sell the product.

STEVEN WEBB's picture

Fake reviews are not a new thing, they've been happening since people were first able to sell stuff online. I remember reading a story about fake reviews more than 10 years ago. I'm surprised, though, that the ratings for those cameras dropped by so much after removing the fakes.

winzehnt gates's picture

They used AI to remove the fakes. We don't know how accurate the AI is in detecting fakes.
That being said, people who aren't satisfied with a product are much more likely to write a review than people who like their purchase. So, after removing the fakes it's no surprise that mostly complains remain.
A representative survey among owners would always show a better result.

Michelle VanTine's picture

I was surprised as well- but the whole system is pretty unreliable. I really like the website mentioned Fred Miranda.

James Lowell's picture

This article feels disingenuous. The ones that seem to have dropped to 2.5 stars are the used ones. The new ones, from the manufacturer, are still highly rated. My everyday camera is the Sony A7R4. I like the camera a lot. Fast auto focus, love sonys color science, battery life is much better then my previous Sony. It's not a perfect camera. It was expensive, high megapixels=more space, the screen doesn't freaking flip!!!!!! WTF SONY! A 3K CAMERA SHOULD HAVE A FLIP SCREEN! But, at any rate, I started with canon and switched and don't plan on going back.

Eliyahu Mayevsky's picture

I am confused now. Are you a real user or a paid Sony outbrain?? Who to trust in this virtual matrix???

Michelle VanTine's picture

hahaha

Alexander Petrenko's picture

So many people registered here just to post a comment about fake reviews…

Timothy Linn's picture

I’m sorry but I call BS on this. I’m no Sony fan but it’s not a 2.5 star camera body. If the 2.5 star rating is accurate, all this tells us is that the reviewers are incompetent.

Michelle VanTine's picture

Yes, if you read the entire article the point is that Amazon is NOT the place to look to for rating reviews. I bet if you looked up the cameras listed on the websites I suggested such as a Fred Miranda you would find a more accurate evaluation by real photographers who use the cameras.

William Salopek's picture

2.5 stars for the A7R4 sounds suspiciously low.

ioas 12's picture

Same here. I personally don't like Sony for their colors, but it's definitely a 5-star camera for many other things, if put in the right hands and for the right job. It simply can't score that low, especially from people who really own it and need to validate their choice.

Michelle VanTine's picture

Yes, if you read the entire article the point is that Amazon is NOT the place to look to for rating reviews. I bet if you looked up the cameras listed on the websites I suggested such as a Fred Miranda you would find a more accurate evaluation by real photographers who use the cameras.

Robert Nurse's picture

I avoid shopping at Amazon like grim death. The site is a complete hot mess and an assault on the retinas. How people make heads or tails of all that confetti is beyond me and my hatred of all things Amazon has just been solidified.

Robert Nurse's picture

I avoid shopping at Amazon like grim death. The site is a complete hot mess and an assault on the retinas. How people make heads or tails of all that confetti is beyond me and my hatred of all things Amazon has just been solidified.

Joachim Wulfers's picture

So, if you wanted to point out that Amazon is NOT the place to look for rating reviews, why did you use this title for your article: Outed: Sony a7R IV Drops From a 4.8/5 to a 2.5/5 After Removing Fake Reviews.
You know that many people just read headlines and that is exactly what your article caused, i.e. a FAKE headline.

Michelle VanTine's picture

Because it's a fact from the article I'm quoting, it creates interest for readers, and it proves the point of the article that amazon is unreliable

D R's picture

It's weird how, even with facts, Sony users will attack as a "fake headline".
Sony users are some of the lowest of the low, most aggressive defenders of their tech I've come across, perhaps only surpassed by Fuji users.

I've actually known people who bought Sony cameras like the A7III, had overheating issues, and were lambasted in Sony forums for bringing up such a forbidden topic/accusation. I didn't even know the A7III had overheating issues because Sony peeps were so aggressive in suppressing this information (and a lot of other issues).

Mark Chia's picture

I've been wondering about that as well, it is pretty ironic that an article about fake reviews has a "fake"(misleading) headline. Anyone who's been on the internet for 2 seconds should know how quick people jump to conclusions without reading articles - especially if it's something they already have strong bias against. The photography community already has enough beef between users of different brands.

Jay C's picture

A7r4 - 2.5
r6 - 3.5
Z5 - 3.5

Fuji : o
Leica : )

Michelle VanTine's picture

Let's go Leica!

winzehnt gates's picture

If I want to know more about a certain piece of gear I akways google

"gear name" review blog

and try to find reviews of people who have actually used the gear and not just tested it for just a day or a week. Often I find bloggers who use it similar to how I intend it to use.
(I prefere written articles, but every year there're more videos and less articles.)

Michelle VanTine's picture

Interesting. And does it lead you to certain sites like DP Review etc

winzehnt gates's picture

E.g. when googling “X100V review blog” you’ll find jperez[dot]ca who has used the X100F extensively and who gives his very personal view on the X100V or admiringlight[dot]com, where Jordan Steele explicitly states “I review gear from a real-world shooting perspective, determining how a piece of gear handles for me in actual use. I also am not a videographer, so my camera reviews focus on the still-imaging aspects of a camera.”

I like it when the reviewer states clearly what kind of photographer/videographer he/she is. Ideally the reviewer has used the gear for some length of time – at least a couple of weeks.
Sites like DP Review are good for getting the specs or for test shots. That’s valuable if you have specific needs, like the fastest AF for sports. But if you look for a travel camera it’s better to have the perspective of someone who actually travelled with this camera and if the AF was fast enough for the photos he took.
E.g. my old Fuji X70 is supposed to have a slow AF, but in most cases its fast enough and in other cases I’d use back-button focus to prefocus. (If I were to write a review on the X70, I’d include how to best configure it so you can switch fast and easily between back-button and shutter-button focus.)

And above all, I try to find written reviews instead of videos.
I like to pause to think about what I’ve read, to be able to easily go back to a paragraph I’ve already read and to decide myself how long I look at an image example.

Michelle VanTine's picture

excellent perspective thank you for sharing

Jeff Wiswell's picture

1) I stopped buying photography gear on Amazon
2) the best way I've found to verify fake reviews is to look at the most recent reviews. If people buy something based on the fake review that turns out bad, they tend to leave scathing comments

Michelle VanTine's picture

Same!

Zdenek Malich's picture

Nearly every who is in photography for a while knows how DxO Mark was criticised for their reviews. And this is going way back... So nothing new here.

Anthony Sams's picture

1. Do the camera specs meet your needs?
If yes, continue.
If not, go to a local camera store.
2. Did you rent the camera?
If yes, go to 3.
If not, rent the camera.
3. Do you like the camera enough to buy it?
If yes, buy it!
If not, DO NOT.
4. Go shoot! The best camera is the one you use!

Michelle VanTine's picture

Love this!

Robert Nurse's picture

This is probably the best advice you can get for camera gear! Renting that hot new body several times lets you see things a review just can't give you. Not only that, you can hit the ground running once you've made the purchase. I took this route by renting an EOS R a couple of times to get a feel for mirrorless before I took the plunge.

Roger Jones's picture

Well said
Thank you

David Pavlich's picture

Who gives a rat's behind? If your camera is one of the 'victims' of this article, but works just fine for you, does this or any article like it change things? All this does is confirm that those that believe the internet stuff the majority of time are fooling themselves. The vast majority of members here know that it's difficult to take a bad picture with modern cameras. They all make great images. It's the operator that screws up a shot, not the camera.

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