Another year, another Year in Review post! Skipping past the obvious summaries of the past 12 months, 2021 was a pretty good year for Mike Eckman dot Com. As was the case every year, traffic increased from the year prior, but this year, traffic really increased, but more on that later.
I wrote more camera reviews than ever before, a few cool articles, I published the 100th Keppler’s Vault article and I started a new podcast which has been going great and is a terrific complement to the site. Not everything went as planned though, so read on for the Mike Eckman dot Com 2021 Year in Review.
In both 2019 and 2020, the site went through major behind the scenes changes as I moved between two different hosts, but this year was far less interesting in terms of the administrative side. Apart from a different platform for how site backups are maintained, a new contact form for people to email me from, and a few very minor cosmetic changes, very little is different from last year, and that’s not a bad thing. Regular changes to a website are not only a lot of work, but can potentially drive traffic away from the site if things change too much.
One thing I had wanted to do this year, which I mentioned in my year end wrap up for 2020, was to start making YouTube reviews, with the intent of a possible YouTube channel, but that never happened. A combination of factors, mostly related to time and not having the right equipment to do the videos the right way, resulted in this never getting off the ground. I may one day try some kind of supplementary video content, but not at this time.
While I was excited to hit a milestone of 100 Keppler’s Vaults, it came out of necessity as earlier this year we saw the passing of Marc Bergman, who was my source for every single one of those Modern and Popular Photography magazine articles. This summer I wrote a memoriam to Marc, explaining his role in this site and how he and I became friends. Although I could still do a few more Keppler’s Vaults with things he’s scanned that I never wrote about, I’ll never get any new content, so I decided to just call it a series at the nice round number of 100.
Here are some highlights:
- 67 new Camera Reviews, up from 54 in 2020 including first ever reviews by a number of companies such as Ernemann, Ferrania, Rectaflex, Royer, and Shinano.
- Two lens reviews, one for the Schneider-Kreuznach Tele-Xenar 135mm f/3.5, and the other for the KMZ MTO 500mm Mirror Lens
- 23 new Keppler’s Vault articles, completing the series at 100.
- My first ever review of a new product, the DOOMO Meter S clip on exposure meter.
- With almost non-stop announcements of price hikes for film, and various emulsions being discontinued, I decided to take a look back at historical prices of film and see how they compare today with inflation. My article on the Historical Prices of Film was well received and proves that while we are paying more than we did a couple of years ago, today’s prices are still more affordable than when many of the cameras we use, were first made.
- In what was probably my most controversial post of the year, I did a head to head comparison of two rangefinder heavy weights, the Nikon SP vs the Leica M3. You might be surprised at what the outcome was, but it was definitely not without some tough decisions!
Of course, the biggest accomplishment this year was the creation of the Camerosity Podcast. Starting with two proof of concept “Cocaine and Waffles” episodes recorded back to back in May, it became clear that there was an appetite for an FM-Radio style call-in photography show in which anyone can join and steer the conversation.
Ever since the first episode of the Camerosity Podcast, Anthony Rue, Theo Panagopoulos, Paul Rybolt and I have billed it as the world’s first open source film photography podcast. The reason this is an open source podcast is that it is driven entirely by it’s listeners.
From the very beginning, we received feedback from listeners about how much they liked the laid back “group chat” discussion. Although we did have a couple planned guests, we never once had a script or agenda for each episode. Topics ranging from almost an entire episode on Miranda cameras to video disc formats were all discussed. And with respected historians and authors such as Robert Shanebrook, Wes Loder, and Robert Rotoloni calling in, the amount of historical and technical information was very high.
As was the case these last two years, there are still ads on the site, but 100% of that ad revenue plus your generous PayPal donations goes back into the site. In fact, between the costs for hosting, backups, themes, plugins, registering the Podbean account, my costs shipping back and forth all the loaners I get, buying film and development chemicals to be able to shoot sample images for each review, I do not make a single cent of profit. The additional costs beyond what the site generates comes out of my pocket out of the love for what I do and I’ll keep doing it for as long as you all keep enjoying it!
If you like stats, here are a few interesting site stats: (These numbers are through December 21, so I will come back and update these in January to show the complete year’s numbers.)
- 572,136 site views which is up from last year’s 421,059 site views (a 35.8% increase), for an average of 1611 per day. (stats according to Jetpack)
- My most popular month was November with 54,487 views, which is the all time best month the site has ever had.
- My most popular post of 2021 was the review for the Minolta XE-7 with 3647 views, knocking the last two year’s winner, the Breathing New Life into Old Cameras post down to 8th place.
- 6,123.93 GB of data transferred through November (according to Cloudflare my CDN) for an average of 556.72 GB per month. My data rates are high as I generally have high resolution (for the web) images on the site. Each review usually has between 10-15 “beauty” images of each camera, along with 12+ or more sample images, which are all between 1-3 MB each.
As I have done the past two years, everything I do with this site is a lot for one person, so I am taking the month of January off from new content. Once I resume writing in February, what do I have planned for 2022?
As always, more reviews. I have quite a number already lined up for the first couple months of the year, and many more to choose from for the rest of 2022. I try to balance rare and common cameras, rangefinders, SLRs and TLRs, and cameras from different eras. So if you see a prewar nickel and chrome folding camera, there’s a pretty good chance there might be an electronic SLR coming next. The mystery camera to the left is a REALLY cool camera that will go live on 1/27 (that’s a hint).
I would love to get back to some one on one Q&A style interviews in my One Hour Photo series and possibly another Rotoloni Report, but we’ll see how that goes. In terms of articles, I will be doing a feature article on batteries, and perhaps something on film hacks for those of you wanting to roll your own film at home.
As I say every year, while I am the only person behind the content you see on this site, I definitely do not do it alone. The amount of feedback, donations, and other support I receive from you all is what keeps me going.
The entire list of people who have supported me is too long to type, a few people who go above and beyond are Kurt Ingham, Roger Beal, Paul Rybolt, Robert Rotoloni, Terry Byford, Mark Faulkner, Adam Paul, Mike Novak, Stephen Dowling, and so, so, so many others
Thank you all for your continued support! Seriously, this site wouldn’t exist without you. I promise to keep going, so here’s to another successful year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!