You probably know that Flickr is a site for sharing photographs, and a great resource for finding photographs of nearly anything you can imagine, or a patron could need. But Flickr is also an excellent consumer resource for anyone interested in buying a new digital camera, or in improving their technical skills with the one they own.
Most digital cameras embed your jpg files with EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data, recording the camera settings such as shutter speed, date and time, focal length, exposure compensation, metering pattern and if a flash was used.
When a photograph is uploaded to Flickr, that information is read and recorded, and is usually made public. In the Additional Information for most photographs, you will see the make and model of the camera listed, as in this example.
Under the name of the camera, there is a More Properties link, which takes you to a page with all the technical data :
More Properties Example
From that page, you can click on the camera name and get statistical information about the camera and how popular it is with Flickr users, and also see samples of photographs taken with the same model. Flickr uses their “interestingness” formula to display the best examples of all pictures taken with the camera, and you can also limit the display to photographs taken using different modes like Portrait, Landscape and Macro.
The statistics and examples are not a substitute for reading the reviews when choosing a camera, but they are a great supplement. Reviews often show a few examples of photographs taken with a camera — here you have literally millions to explore, and you can make up your own mind about whether the camera you’re considering is capable of taking the kind of photographs you want.
You can also start at the top, so to speak, and access Flickr’s Camera Finder information directly rather than starting with a particular image. You can see the most popular brands and popular models, see usage graphs and statistics, and see price information and reviews from Yahoo Shopping.
Flickr’s camera information is a great example of the datamining, finding ways to use all of the information that’s accumulated when millions of people use a site to share photographs, buy books, watch movies, etc. The system isn’t perfect — some cameras (especially cameraphones) don’t record or pass along this information, some users choose not to make it public, and scanned images from film cameras are not represented. But Flickr has an unmatched set of data about camera usage which is quite different from camera sales figures, and the ability to view camera information for any image or to search and sort through images based on camera information make this an amazing consumer resources for anyone interested in digital cameras.