No longer mostly ads like in the 1990's, the articles are more interesting and informative, not to mention visually enticing. Sure, there will be 'dud' issues from time to time, but I like their articles pertaining to digital imaging. The ads still abound (their main source of revenue), but it doesn't make up for a humongous majority of ink and paper. It's worth getting.
I have subscribed to Popular Photography for about 5 years. I intend to continue subscribing because it has the most product reveiws of any photo magazine that I have encountered. It allows me to keep up with what's new in the way of equipment. Of particular interest are the lens tests. Pop Photo tests most new lenses for 35 mm cameras, which is more than any other source that I know of.
Now to the bad part: I find that the articles that are not related to products reviews are primarily intended for novices, and they are very repetitive. If you've subscribed for more than a year, you will find that many basic subjects are treated over and over again. And I have always been disappointed in the subjects of the articles, which are just very unimaginative. Photography is such a huge subject, with many interesting and idiosyncratic techniques available. There is no need to stick to the same handful of subjects. It's uninspirational, and it's bad editing, frankly. I do like Herb Keppler's monthly column. He's a plain-spoken guy who usually has something useful to say. More evidence of editorial laziness is that Pop Photo essentially puts their annual product guides in the magazine. This means that several of their issues are dominated by pages and pages of charts telling you what is available this year in SLR's, point-and-shoots, film, zoom lenses, etc. There is very little else in those issues. Other magazines put their product guides in a separate publication that is available on the newsstand.
In summary, Pop Photo has a wide audience and a lot of potential, but needs a better Editor. The product reviews and tests are worth the price of the subscription to me, but that is really what the magazine excells at.
I've subscribed to PPI off and on for many years (including when it was Pop. Photog.). I agree with the reviewer who said that reviewers tend to be mostly positive about reviewed products--however, they're better than they used to be and do, in fact, mention problems. In addition some other photog. mags simply don't do bad reviews at all. One of the rationales photog mags sometimes use is that they don't want to publicize bad products so they don't review them. Hmmmm...
Also, it's true that many articles are superficial or rehashes of past "how-to" articles for near beginners, but they do sometimes cover other aspects of photography, and they do have profiles of photographers and their work from a variety of different fields, which I find interesting.
My biggest gripe with PPI is that they are hyperbolic about any new development or product, so there is a lot of: "We finally got our hands on the new Kamera S&M2000 which is now the top of Kamera's line. Kamera has completely redisigned the grip which is now a different shape and has a small patch of nubbly rubber on it. And we were surprised to discover that the button for releasing the flash is now mounted on the SIDE of the camera!" Etc., etc. Everything new is incredible, stunning, radical, amazing, worth a close look, etc. Truly radical developments just don't happen once/month like clockwork in photography, but they go for headlines instead of stories in depth....
Also a pain are evaluations of color films with numerous side by side shots all limited by the magazine printing process and many of which look nearly identical...which is a tad funny, actually.
Bottom line is: read it for a year and then subscribe to something else for a while. Helps to get more info and you can compare different approaches by mag editors that way.
I've been a reader of Popular Photography for some time and find it useful, but certainly not perfect. The strength of the magazine is that the testing of cameras and related gear is very quantitative in nature and allows you to compare similar products objectively. This is obviously the first priority of the editorial staff and they do a good job of it. The only thing I would fault on their reviews is that they aren't always pointed enough in pointing out one product's shortcomings compared to others in the same category. They do, however, offer more of this type of feedback than just about any other magazine I've seen so it is a relative weakness at worst. Some magazines, like Shutterbug, just offer gushing subjective reviews for every product they cover and Popular Photography definitely lives up to a much higher standard.
With regard to the remaining content, the magazine plummets in terms of quality. There are frequent "how to" articles that have sunk to a point of being almost laughable. Never a strong point, in the past six months I've seen more and more articles demonstrating techniques to achieve an effect in some photo that I would delete if I had taken it... yet it's held up as some sort of shining goal that I should aspire to. It seems to this reader that the editorial staff needs a good shake up and the magazine a good going-over from top to bottom to get things on track.
Overall, I consider this magazine worth subscribing to. But only barely. At the low per-issue cost of a subscription I'll get enough product information to make it worth my while. But if you aren't into photo gear and have no intention of buying a camera in the next year or so I don't think I'd recommend it for you.
I was a little disaapointed in this magazine... over half of the magazine is ads..... there are maybe 4-5 main articles in each issue.... just seems a little light on subject matter.... would love to see more on getting better photos in tough situations... new technology and overall more information on photography....if you like to check out the ads on new photography equipment then you'll love this magazine... otherwise I say pass....
Average mag that covers the basics and generally places more emphasis on the latest toys/gear and not really all that much on "photography" other than how to crop and adjust the color balance here and there.
Popular photography is heavily loaded with ads. Once you've acquired your camaera and basic equipment, there really is no need for anything more than a one year subscription as the articles start to repeat themselves under a "new" same headline... e.g. "How to make your colors vibrant" or "how to take control of color" or How to make the colors "pop" or "secrets of color photography" yada, yada yada...essential the same thing.
If you need photographic inspiration slightly more emphasis on "photography" and works by others I'd go for "American Photo". If you want more info on the latest gear, go for Shutterbug.
They're all quite similar at the end of the day.
Personally, I learn more about photography by critically studying the amazing photos in National Geographics or just looking at weekly photos in a weekly issue of Time magazine.
The magazine is targeted to the beginner/prosumer in my opinion. It's good and light reading. Full of ads though. I agree with the other reviewer that it gets repetitive after a while, especially if you photography skills are a big advanced.
Magazine keeps you in touch with respect to new equipment (i.e., advertisments especially but also product reviews) and some technique. But just too many damn advertisements.
I got this subscription for an awesome deal, so it was worth it. However, as far as useful content, it's only okay. I like the UK photography magazines better since they're filled with less ads and have better articles. Overall this is a great casual reader.
This is a good magazine. They have redone the inside since the last time I read it. The format is much better now.