In theory, it's a good idea. But like the other posters have mentioned, it's an uphill battle. In my experience (Application Developer), creating the content management side is easy. Creating the content and building a subscriber/user, that's an entirely separate -- and exponentially more difficult -- endeavor.
* How would you entice professional photographers to review equipment on your site? To start, I imagine this site would have low traffic and small user base, so for a professional photographer to take time away from their job, you'd likely have to pay them.
* How would you manage the content? Would it be a free for all, or would you have an administrator?
* What would be your source of revenue? Ads are great, but given the saturation of market (I mean, you're posting this idea through a competitor) I can't imagine you would recoup your investment (time, capital, etc) very quickly.
Frankly, this idea kind of sounds like facebook for photographers. Which, again, isn't a bad idea... but having built these sorts of tools in the past, I can guarantee getting it off the ground would be more challenging than you think.
Thanks for your thoughts! You're right, the primary factor in getting an idea like this off the ground would be finding the professional photographers to write reviews. I have access to this, so the secondary factor which comes up as you mentioned is of course SEO.
I don't believe revenue would be a requirement here, at least at first. Perhaps referral links to cameras on B&H or something could be one source, which wouldn't be banner-based (ldeal). What do you think?
If you already have professional photographers willing to do reviews on your (theoretical) site, then you already have small piece in place. In regards to SEO, I would have the photographers write reviews that would exclusively live on your site. Then the photographers could link to your site in their blogs/websites. This would provide a valuable SEO boost. In this context, link backs (depending on the source) can be more valuable than content.
But I'm still skeptical about the overall "business plan" aspect of it. If the site becomes as popular as you envision it, revenue would be a side effect of popularity. It's hard to have a popular website with a large user base and high SEO ranking and not be able to pull in revenue. Sure you can say you're not interested in making money off it, but that will immediately put you at a disadvantage to your competition.
Would it be a useful site? Sure, but useful doesn't always (and frankly rarely) translates into successful. Take this forum for instance. It has almost all the content you're looking to build your site around -- professional reviews/photos from all forms of photographers, featured stories/articles, and just about every opinion you could ask for. Granted, it's lacking in organization, but I wouldn't see myself gravitating towards another site with less content and better organization. Most of us have developed skills for sifting through loosely organized data, and unfortunately have an attention span reflective of that. So your primary challenge will be two fold: attracting users to your site, and convincing them to stay.
And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be negative here... just realistic. I've spent hundreds of hours of my own time writing my site from scratch with a hoard of useful features that no other site on the Internet offers. And to date, the only regular visitors I get are my wife, my mother, and myself. But I knew that going in. I wanted a web application where I could quickly access all (and by all I mean 32,000 and counting) photos I've taken and organize/view/manage them from anywhere. It works great, and more importantly I had fun building it. But I never had an expectation that it would become wildly popular and be the next facebook for photographers. I just enjoy writing software.
But that being said, I look forward to seeing what you can put together. :-)