2023 Year in Review

Another year is over, which means another year end wrap up!  The best news this year was that 2023 seemed to be the first year post COVID that felt like a normal year.  2020 and 2021 clearly weren’t, and in 2022 things did get a lot better, but there was always that sense of hesitation, like, “is this for real?”  Of course that doesn’t mean that 2023 didn’t have its share of ups and downs, but let’s focus on the positives.

Artwork by David Revoy for 2023.  Image courtesy, wikidata.com licensed through CC4.0.

For me, this past year can best be described as more of the same, which isn’t a bad thing.  The site continued to grow year over year, and we beat our year end stats from 2022 by over 8% making 2023 the best year the site has ever had.  In addition, in January we crossed the 60,000 views in a single month threshold for the first time, something which happened again in March and August.

Very little changed, both in the content I wrote or in the functionality of the site.  In last year’s recap, I hinted at possibly updating the site’s theme to something new as the one I’ve been using since 2017 is no longer actively being developed, however all attempts I made to try something else didn’t accomplish what I wanted, so I stuck with the same theme for another year.  One minor glitch did appear which coincided with a WordPress platform update, causing a display issue in search results, but I was able to resolve that with a workaround.  The day will likely come where I have no choice but to switch themes, but that day did not happen in 2023!

Rest in Peace, Kurt Ingham.

Beyond that, the majority of new content came in the form of more camera reviews.  As some of you know, after the passing of long time collector and good friend Kurt Ingham, I was able to acquire a large part of his collection, expanding the number of models I could test and review far beyond what I would have ever been able to acquire on my own.

Receiving part of a collection as a result of the death of a friend is bittersweet because I was excited to try out many fantastic cameras, but I’d much rather have my friend back.  But such is life (and death).

This year was all about reviews, and I pushed out 46 new ones.  This is down from 58 last year, but that’s a result of taking the entire months of both January and August off, and also that I didn’t do a single three camera multi-review as I had often done in years last.  With the trip to California to pick up Kurt’s collection and all of the effort needed to sort and organize it once it got back to me, I was overloaded with cameras all year and needed a break.

Last year, I extended the life of the Keppler’s Vault series, publishing three new articles, which I had hoped to continue into 2023, but just never got around to it.

In addition to new content on this site, 21 new episodes of the Camerosity Podcast were recorded and released with interviews from a number of awesome guests including:

  • Paul Sokk and Chris Whelan who are both big time Yashica collectors.  Paul’s site, yashicatlr.com is the go to resource for Yashica TLR and Nicca rangefinder information.  Episode 58 was dedicated to Yashica and Nicca and was my personal favorite episode of the year!
  • Robert Shanebrook, came back for a second episode to regale us with more wonderful Eastman Kodak stories, along with discussions on the state of the film industry and other film stocks that have existed in the past.
  • Todd Gustavson, curator at the George Eastman Museum had been on the show before, but as a participant, but in Episode 51 came back as our primary guest and shared even more stories about the Eastman Museum and all of the wonderful things they have there.

    Rudi Berden and I, two dudes collecting cameras!
  • Rudi Berden, Rudi is a long time collector and friend whom I’ve corresponded with many times over the past several years and I finally got to meet him in person this summer out in California, after which he made a few appearances on the show.
  • Johnny Sisson, formerly of the Classic Lenses Podcast, and the original host of this show when it was Cocaine and Waffles.  Johnny has taken a break from podcasting and social media for the past couple years, but we were fortunate to get him back for Episode 50 to see what he’s been up to in our 50th Anniversary show!
  • Vladislav Kern, from ussrphoto.com and major Soviet camera collector.  Vlad is a great friend of mine and has been on the show before, but prior to Episode 56, we had never devoted an entire episode to the Soviet camera industry.
  • Phil Sterritt and Mike Reitsma, both from the Argus Collectors Group, Episode 42 was all about Argus and other American cameras.  Although not always the most popular models for collectors, a great deal of excellent American cameras have been made over the years and we tried to cover them all!
  • Marwan El Mozayen from Silvergrain Classics, the company behind the resurrection of a brand new Widelux panoramic camera came on Episode 52 to talk about his new project and panoramic cameras in general.

In addition to these special guests, we had themed episodes for Pentax, Argus, Mamiya, Graflex, Konica, Yashica, the East German Camera Industry, Panoramic Cameras, Half-Frame Cameras, Point and Shoot Cameras, and much more!  Returning callers also included terrific people like Robert Rotoloni, Dan Tamarkin, Ray Nason, Andre Domingues, Mario Piper, Mark Faulkner and many, many more!

A special thanks is owed to Anthony Rue, Paul Rybolt, and Theo Panagopolous for all their time, effort, and energy on the show.  None of us get paid to do this, but each of these three guys bring their own special touches to the Camerosity Podcast which I could not capture on my own.

I say this every year, but it’s true every year.  Ads suck, but 100% of that ad revenue plus your generous donations go back into both the site and podcast.  I have heard your complaints and am aware that on occasion, the ads do get in the way of content.  Please understand that I do not control the exact position of the ads, or which ads appear.

The way online advertising works is that I subscribe to an ad marketplace through Google called Adsense which collects advertising money from advertisers all over the world.  Those advertisers do not directly post their ads on my site, instead I use an ad manager called Ezoic who automatically does that work for me and pays me a commission based on which ones appear in which locations and if any are clicked on.

I do have some control over the types of ads (so no R-rated ones), and how often an ad should appear on which page based on how many words it has, but these controls are not as intuitive as you’d think and each time a new type of ad is available, it is automatically turned on without notifying me so then I have to go back in and troubleshoot and disable things I don’t want to see.

Hosting this website and the Camerosity Podcast is not cheap.  Registration for Podbean, the host for the podcast is $180 a year.  My Amazon Web Services bill is over $70 every single month, including site backups.  I pay for premium theme support, premium backup software, plus the ongoing cost to acquire, borrow, and send back loaned cameras.  Each time I make a trip to the post office to send back a loaned camera, that’s another $12 – $18 depending on the size and where I send it.

If you like numbers, here are a few interesting site stats:

  • 676,202 site views which is up from last year’s 624,714 total (an 8.2% increase), for an average of 1852 per day. (stats according to Jetpack)
  • My most popular month was March with 67,213 views, which is the all time best month the site has ever had
  • My most popular post of 2023 for the second year in a row was A Look Back at the Prices of Film with 8428 views
  • 7,113.65 GB of data transferred through November (according to Cloudflare) for an average of 646.69 GB per month.  These numbers are actually down from last year despite more traffic, which can partially be explained by WordPress serving up images with better compression.  Most browsers now receive images from mikeeckman.com in a much more efficient format called WEBP instead of JPG,

Every January I take the month off from new content, so after the the year ends, you won’t see anything from me until February, but once I start posting, what do I have planned for 2024?

One of my favorite reviews of the year was for the Epson R-D1 digital rangefinder camera.

If you guessed “more reviews” then you’re absolutely right!  If I continue my current cadence of releasing reviews, at some point in 2024 I will reach a milestone of publishing my 500th review.  Then in December, I will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of this site, both are accomplishments that blow my mind!  I run this site entirely by myself and when I first got started, it was just a personal blog that nobody other than maybe my mom and dad, ever read so to have over 500 reviews over the course of a decade is, quite frankly, hard to process.

With the additions to the queue from Kurt Ingham, the number of cameras I could potentially review in 2024 is massive, but I will do my best to try and find a balance of not looking at only one type of camera.  While it is probably fun to read about some obscure rare camera from the early 20th century which no one has ever seen before, those reviews have limited appeal and can be difficult to research as there won’t be much info out there on them.  I make an effort to balance rare cameras with common ones and not do too many of the same type in a row.  If I do a Japanese SLR one week, I’ll try to follow up with a German rangefinder, or an American box camera or something like that.

In September I sold some cameras at the Chicago Photorama.  Here I am with Robert Rotoloni and Mark Faulkner.

The Camerosity Podcast will continue as well.  The guys and I have been putting together some ideas for shows and topics to talk about in 2024.  I say it in every episode though, the topics and discussions on the podcast are influenced by you!  So if there’s something you want us to talk about, or a question you have, please come and talk to us!

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.

A special thank you to the following people who have donated $20 or more towards the site:

  • Paul Rybolt
  • Roger Beal
  • Phelps Photography
  • Igor Reznik
  • Jeffrey Felton
  • David Leibowitz
  • Patrick Sweeney
  • Brian Mac Domhnaill
  • Donald Lampert
  • Joseph DiCarlo
  • William Norton
  • Hugh Baird
  • Jeffrey Oliveira
  • Norman Smith
  • Michael Seebeck
  • Thomas Zevaco
  • Phillip Sterritt
  • Mike Reitsma
  • Christian Labus
  • Christopher May
  • Charles E Gabe
  • Russell Malm

If you’ve contributed to this site, the Podcast, or to me personally in any way and I did not include your name, please forgive me.  The list of people who have helped me do what I do is very long and you are very much appreciated!  What you read on this site and hear on the show are all a direct result from your love and support!

I can’t say it enough, thank you to everyone reading this.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!  See you in 2024!

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