Photographer Diaries: The disadvantages of having an SLR..

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An odd topic to be talking about, and with answers that are pretty obvious too, but since I love reading what all of our wonderful readers have to say, I want to share this with you.

There’s absolutely no doubt about the fact that dSLRs are fantastic devices, outperforming any P&S out there. The colours, the sharpness, the overall image quality.. absolutely stunning. And why not? They have a bigger sensor, much bigger compared to the teeny ones in compacts (especially when companies are stuffing 15+ megapixels onto those teeny sensors), better glass (if nothing else, have you ever noticed the difference between the size of even the smallest SLR lens and the lens of any common compact?), and loads of other features that I don’t need to state really.. We all know why SLRs are better. BUT.. yes.. there is a BUT..

DSLRs have their disadvantages as well.. why am I talking about them? Let me share today’s experience with you. I’m currently participating in a workshop, and the campus where I’m located at present is an infotech park pretty far off from the city, which houses campuses of a number of big companies. The weather here is great, a much needed respite from the sweltering heat of my place (46 degrees Celsius, hottest in the country!), and it even rained today. It was around dusk, and I set out on a walk, to enjoy the weather and explore the area. I carried my camera along, not really wanting to take pictures, but just in case. The light was a bit too low, so it was more of a scouting mission than anything else. There was a meadow, and hills beyond. And there was this construction site.. a huge new corporate campus coming up. I made mental notes of all the photos that I wanted to take, and planned to come back the next day at dawn, or dusk. I spent a little more than an hour as I was really enjoying the walk. On my way back, a security guard whistled somewhere in the distance, and motioned for me to come. When I went there, he took me to the head guard, who asked me what I was doing, where I was from, and why I had a camera with me. I gave him his answers, but he wasn’t satisfied, and asked to see the photographs in the camera. Since I was in a good mood, I didn’t think much about it, and simply showed him the pictures that were there. I hadn’t taken any new ones. Satisfied, he apologised for the inconvenience and said that he’d been told to check my camera by an official who’d seen me walking around with it. I said “Its fine, you did what you needed to :) ”. He conveyed the whole thing to the guy who’d told him to check, but that guy didn’t seem satisfied, and I was told to wait a little longer. That guy then came, with another guy, and I was again questioned, and my camera scanned, much more thoroughly. I was then told that photography was prohibited on the site. I said Ok, and left.

Since I hadn’t taken any pictures, it didn’t make too much of a difference to me. But if I had, and if they’d asked to delete them, I would’ve been very put off. There was no single indication that cameras were not allowed.. not even the security guard said anything. It was an open area, with no defined boundaries, so one would assume that he’s free to take pictures if he likes. If it is prohibited, why can’t you put up a simple sign that says so!

A similar thing had happened the day before, when I was out with a friend, with cam and tripod, in the campus looking for a suitable location to try out a new technique. Then too, the head security guard spotted me carrying a tripod and a big cam, and called me. And this one was rude. He said the same thing – you’re not allowed to take pictures without written permission from the vice president of the blah blah blah. Then too I went away without saying much, even though I was extremely pissed at his attitude. And today, almost everyone participating in the workshop was busy taking pictures of the place and friends. That really put me off.

The whole point of me narrating the whole thing – My fault was that I had a bigger camera that I could not fit in my pocket and used a tripod, and so I was not allowed to take pictures whereas everybody else had compacts and were going snap-happy. How unfair is that!

This was one occasion where the bigger size of my camera proved to be a disadvantage. I never had a problem carrying it around. The problem arose when I was spotted carrying it.

All said and done, I will not compromise on my pictures, and if I’m not allowed to shoot, then I’d rather not do it than to do it with an inferior camera so that I’m not ‘seen’ (no offense!). I guess sometimes in life, things are just not under your control. And waddaya know, I’m feeling better already, having shared this with all of you. I would love to hear what you have to say about it :)

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  • Chris Newhall

    “All said and done, I will not compromise on my pictures, and if I’m not allowed to shoot, then I’d rather not do it than to do it with an inferior camera so that I’m not ’seen’ (no offense!).”

    I have a few camera's including a Nikon DSLR but my favorite to use is my slightly modified Canon S90 (it's got Richard Franiec's grip and a little bit of electrical tape to make the wheel on the back work right). I like it because of it's small size, versatility and low light performance. I've taken some of my best photo's with that camera, it is not inferior to my DSLR in most cases, sure I can't print a great looking poster using it but I can make some amazing 8×10's. You are just being snooty.

    If you get rid of the attitude, I think you might find yourself becoming a better photographer…

  • Chris Newhall

    Oh, and take a little time to learn what rights you have as a photographer so you don't get bullied around next time, instead of just whining about it to us.

    Watch me get banned or my comment deleted for this… :-P