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Kuwait Bans DSLR Cameras Use For Non-Journalists 446

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-give-'em-ideas dept.
DaveNJ1987 writes "Kuwait has banned the use of Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras in public places for anyone who is not a journalist. The ban, which was passed by the unanimous agreement of the country's Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Information and Ministry of Finance, prevents the public from using DSLR devices on the streets of the Middle Eastern State. Tourists are to be affected by the new laws and must be aware of this before travelling to Kuwait. Smaller digital cameras and camera phones are exempt from the ban."
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Kuwait Bans DSLR Cameras Use For Non-Journalists

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  • funny and ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:26PM (#34321636) Journal
    An ironic twist I think... I know many people whose DSLR pictures totally suck because the camera is beyond their ability to master even simple photographs. Also, ironically, anyone who would want useful information from digital pictures can readily shoot quality pictures with non-DSLR digital cameras. Is this for real?
    • Re:funny and ironic (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:32PM (#34321748) Journal

      An ironic twist I think... I know many people whose DSLR pictures totally suck because the camera is beyond their ability to master even simple photographs. Also, ironically, anyone who would want useful information from digital pictures can readily shoot quality pictures with non-DSLR digital cameras. Is this for real?

      I think the idea is to cut back on some form of spying. Lets face it, if you are a journalist, you want REALLY good pictures for your articles, like national Geographic quality if possible. Thats why they're allowed DSLR's.

      But if I'm a spy, and I see a hand off going on between some military personel and some 'civilian' - I'll be all dressed up as a tourist with my nice HUUUUUGE Telephoto lens, snap a few quick shots. If someone gets suspicious you either delete the pictures if you don't have much time or if you think you can without noticing, switch out the memory card.

      Asta Lasaugna, don't get any onya.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Forgot to mention: the point being that you can't get that kind of zoom level with a regular digital camera, in case I didn't make that point obvious.

        • The tiny thumbnail size sensor makes those 14x and up supper zooms possible. My 400mm on my SLR is huge in comparison. On my full frame sensor is 400 on my crop sensor SLR its about 600mm.
          here are the class of camera I'm talking about.

          http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/q110superzoomgroup/ [dpreview.com]

          Of course these don't work well in low light....

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by fyngyrz (762201)

            On my full frame sensor is 400 on my crop sensor SLR its about 600mm.

            No. It's 400mm in both cases, You've conflated field of view with magnification. The lens puts the same image at the focal plane; the crop sensor doesn't capture the edges (because the sensor is smaller) and this gives you the same field of view as a 640mm lens, but the information in the crop isn't any larger.

            There are only two factors that affect captured magnification: One is the lens; the other is the sensel density on the senso

        • by wygit (696674)

          My old Canon S1IS had a 380mm equivalent lens on it http://goo.gl/jxdxu [goo.gl]
          and my present Panasonic ZS5 has a 300mm equivalent in a pretty small pocket camera.

        • by Guspaz (556486)

          There are plenty of non-DSLR cameras that support a variety of lense mounting standards. For example, micro four-thirds cameras (non-DSLR) can use four-thirds lenses (DSLR) via adapters, at which point you can get those same HUUUUUGE Telephoto lens on a non-DSLR camera like the Lumix GF2, which has a body very similar to most point-and-shoots.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by interval1066 (668936)
        If I'm a spy and my target is something in Kuwait I think the last thing I want is a bulkier SLR, I'll take a digital. In fact, I'll buy one there in Kuwait, snap off pix of my target(s), and send them over the internet. No need to go through customs anything that might be connected with spying. Seriously, the people who run governments need to step up their games.
    • Re:funny and ironic (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:37PM (#34321824) Journal
      It sounds like classic security theatre to me. It has, somehow, become an article of faith in jackboot circles(the world over, apparently; our Limey friends on Airstrip One seem to be the most enthusiastic; but the notion is international in its appeal) that 'terrorists' simply cannot function without extremely high quality photographs, taken personally with professional grade equipment, even if their target is some tourist trap with 10+ million publicly available images on the web... It has further, somehow, become an article of faith(among both jackboots and photo-n00bs) that DLSRs are the magic ticket to being the next Ansel Adams, while anything without interchangeable lenses might as well be a webcam from 1993.

      How exactly these beliefs persist, I'm not quite sure, when any moron who spends ten minutes in the camera aisle at Best Buy can see that contemporary happy-snapper gear is pretty competent(particularly when paired with contemporary flash memory that will give said happy-snapper 10,000 chances to get it right for under $40...) and trivially available stuff like Photosynth [photosynth.net] demonstrates the power of huge numbers of shoddy images combined with some algorithmic cleverness...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by erroneus (253617)

        It has been discussed many, many times. Belief beats fact. Fear beats belief and fact. This seems to apply to everyone across the board. It's like the anti-gun groups who conveniently ignore the reduction in crime in the US states where CHLs are issued and continue to cry "blood in the streets." It simply doesn't matter how much fact you shovel out. They won't see anything but what they want to see... and by "they" I mean pretty much everyone including you and me.

        • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @04:03PM (#34323060) Journal

          That's what you believe. The fact is that gun control prevents gun crime:

          http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/gunaus.htm [converge.org.nz]
          http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir-crime-murders-with-firearms [nationmaster.com]

          • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @04:42PM (#34323584) Homepage Journal

            It's also apparent that the overall homicide rate is consistent with the trend prior to the enactment of the gun bans of '94-'96.

            I'm not sure why Aussies seem to think it better to be stabbed or beaten to death than to be shot, but more power to you, I guess. Myself, I prefer to be able to adequately defend myself.

            • Yeah sure. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @05:55PM (#34324666) Homepage Journal

              USians simply don't grasp the fact that, bar war zones, they live in some of the places with the highest homicide rates in the world.

              The mental blockage to link phallic enthusiasm for guns and homicide rates eludes other wise reasonable pople (oh wait, half of you would vote for Sarah Palin if given a chance. Forget what I said)....

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by the_womble (580291)

                Except most of the murders are not committed using guns, and even if you excluded gun murders the US would still have a very high murder rate by developed country standards. On the ohter hand lots of places have high gun ownership and low murder rates.

                When the UK strengthened enforcement of its guns laws (i.e. making for effort to find and seize illegal guns) the result was an increase in knife murders.

                I have always lived in countries where civilian use of guns is tightly restricted, and my instinct is to s

                • Re:Yeah sure. (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by thegarbz (1787294) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @03:19AM (#34328430)
                  Call me crazy but I greatly prefer someone lunging at me with a knife in their hand. Fuck give them two knives. I also know that if I am running away from an attacker I greatly prefer they have something in their hand which requires close contact to be effective, and not a projectile weapon. Pre-meditated murders will still happen, but it's the jealous ex boyfriend, or cool dude you insulted infront of gang that will give you a fighting chance (or a running chance), even if they are armed with a fucking sword.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  I have always lived in countries where civilian use of guns is tightly restricted, and my instinct is to sympathise with the ban, but I think the "guns don't kill people. people kill people" lot have the facts on their side.

                  Ah, but that's clearly not reading the statistics right. The correct formulation would be, "Guns don't kill people. Americans kill people." If you contrast the prevalence of guns in e.g. Norway (tons of guns, more than the US) the adage becomes "Americans with handguns kill people."

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by modecx (130548)

                You mean countries/territories like:

                El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, South Africa, Belize, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Mexico, Russia, Swaziland, Panama, Paraguay, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Costa Rica, Suriname, Papua New Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Lithuania, Thailand, Zambia, Belarus, Barbados, Seychelles, Uganda, Georgia, Estonia, Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Kenya, Argentina?... In that order

                • Re:Yeah sure. (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @02:52AM (#34328310) Homepage

                  Just out of curiosity, which of these countries are at a development-level comparable to USA ? Does even a single one of them have a GDP/person that's atleast 1/3rd of that in usa ?

                  Can you find me a country where wealth/person is atleast half of USA, and where homicide-rates are comparable ?

                  If you're happy to beat Kenya, then yeah, fine, more power to you.

      • Photosynth [photosynth.net]

        You'll be installing Microsoft Silverlight. It's small and fast.

        Anybody got some pointers for FOSS photogrammetry systems?
        goddamnit, can slashdot misinterpret allegedly valid html worse?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tverbeek (457094)

      Non-SLR digital cameras have gotten very good in recent years. As an old-school 35mm SLR user, there are times I'd love to have a DSLR, but a 10MP non-reflex camera with a 10X optical zoom lens (such as the one I have) can take pretty much the exact same photos, albeit with marginally lower image quality due to the optics. So they're accomplishing nothing except to require amateur photographers to use smaller and less expensive cameras.

      • I loaded the newegg homepage a few minutes ago and(by pure happenstance) they were offering a 35x optical zoom Canon point-and-shoot for a hair under $400. I'm guessing that a real lens snob who can afford something that gets its own tripod and looks like an anti-tank weapon would be driven to tears by the optical artefacts(particularly around the edge of the frame); but with a tiny tripod and some adequate image stabilization wizardry(yours standard on the nicer point-and-shoots) I suspect that you can get
  • by mschaffer (97223) * on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:27PM (#34321644)

    What about regular SLR cameras? Why ban D(igital)SLR cameras?

    • Film is dead, Netcraft confirmed it!
    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      Similar to my initial line of thinking, which was along the lines of "what the hell can banning DSLRs achieve when point-and-shoots (or micro four thirds) are still legal", but the opinion of the author is that they're going for a chilling effect:

      In my opinion, the only reason the Kuwaiti authorities didn’t issue a full scale ban on all digital photography apparatus is because every self-respecting smart-phone these days comes with a couple megapixels strong built-in camera that would basically make the ban useless.

      The ban will not affect small ‘standard’ digital cameras, in theory. But in all honesty, who would be willing to go in public taking shots with a digital camera and risk having to explain the differences between DSLR and non-DSLR cameras to angry Kuwaiti authorities? I for one certainly would not.

      The author and I are thinking of non-SLR digital devices, you're thinking of non-digital SLRs, but the argument is the same - do you want to take the risk?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fahrbot-bot (874524)
      I'm guessing digital SLRs are banned because the photos can be easily copied/uploaded whereas those on actual film cannot. Control the flow of information.
    • by lazlo (15906) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:53PM (#34322074) Homepage

      Or what about interchangeable lens cameras with an LED-based "viewfinder" that do not actually use a reflex mirror? I think they're called by some "bridge cameras", and I'm not entirely sure I understand what the advantage of the reflex mechanism is for a digital camera. (for a film camera, yeah, I completely understand. But those reasons mostly don't translate to digial *at all*.)

      In reality, I suspect that the term DSLR is being abused similarly to "assault weapons" is in the US. The law really means any camera that looks too scary to be permitted to civilians, and the real definition will be defined ex post facto.

  • I agree (Score:5, Funny)

    by michelcolman (1208008) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:27PM (#34321646)
    Using a DSLR camera while standing in the middle of the street, is just unsafe.
  • Why? Is there any reason at all for this ban? Help me out here.

    • They did it because they can, and because nobody will punish them for their temerity with a bullet in the head.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        They did it because they can, and because nobody will punish them for their temerity with a bullet in the head.

        They can't be tyrants because we, the US of A, liberated the Kuwaiti Royal Family and this monarchy from the evils of Saddam Hussein; which we then invaded Iraq to free its people from the oppressive tyranny of that tyrant in order to install a democracy.

        Don't you just love US foreign policy?

    • by rwven (663186)

      It seems like it must be some nonsensical knee jerk response for the sake of security or some crap. Seems like a typical blind bureaucratic action or something...

      If you spend a few more bucks on your point and shoot, you can get pretty close to the same quality as a DSLR.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Oppressive government that hates society and is trying to hide something.

      It makes it easy to target people that are "journalists" and require fees or kickbacks.

      It also eliminates people from having 300+mm telephotos to take photos of "secrets" from a distance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jugalator (259273)

      Why? Is there any reason at all for this ban? Help me out here.

      I guess they don't want HQ telephotography of abuse of power from safe locations etc, where they won't even know who's photographing them so they can't see who they should arrest. :-p

      However... Smaller digital cameras OK? Uh, what about the Canon SX30 IS with 35x zoom? That's better than my Nikon D90 with my 200mm lens. While perhaps not the same optical quality, this doesn't matter at all unless they're trying to ban photographs with a nice bokeh, or low noise levels, haha. :p

  • Back when digital photography was in its infancy, what I did was shoot pictures with 35mm film, and then mount the negatives as slides, and fed them into a slide scanner.

    As far as I can tell, none of the technology involved in that workflow would come under this ban. So...?

    • by jandrese (485)
      I was wondering if there's already a 35mm SLR ban in place and this is just extending it to DSLRs or something. They would be about a decade late in enacting the ban, but that's politics for you.
    • by rwven (663186)

      Not only that, but with high quality 35MM film, you can get a MUCH higher resolution scan out of a negative than your typical DSLR can produce. High end 35MM film will capture the equivalent of 30MP+ images.

  • Why? Seriously, what benefit is there banning DSLRs over other cameras? It can't be the existence of telephoto lenses, because there are lots of compacts that have large zooms. Maybe it's a war on artful, quality photos?
    • by rwven (663186)

      Actually your typical point and shoot has a much deeper optical zoom than most DSLR lenses. a 10x telephoto lens for a DSLR is hundred or even thousands of dollars. Most point and shoots do 10x optical or better. Heck, my cheap digital camcorder does 30x optical, 40x digital.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Algan (20532)

        Talking about 10x or 20x is irrelevant. Ten times what? A 200-400mm lens is technically only 2x, but it goes further than any point and shoot camera. Most point and shoot cameras start at around 20-30mm and go to about 100-200mm focal distance, since that's the range most people want.

    • by argmanah (616458) *

      Why? Seriously, what benefit is there banning DSLRs over other cameras? It can't be the existence of telephoto lenses, because there are lots of compacts that have large zooms. Maybe it's a war on artful, quality photos?

      Ok, seriously, people need to stop talking like a DSLR and a compact one is essentially the same. You have clearly not tried to shoot photos at extreme distances in low light. The difference between a quality DSLR in the hands of an expert versus a compact ones can be very extreme depending on environmental factors. Here in the states, the place I've seen it come up on the most is at concerts, where a DSLR with a good lens will make the pictures appear like you've got front row seats when you're really u

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mysidia (191772)

      Why? Seriously, what benefit is there banning DSLRs over other cameras? It can't be the existence of telephoto lenses, because there are lots of compacts that have large zooms. Maybe it's a war on artful, quality photos?

      Not only that... but there are non-SLRs that have Telephoto lenses you can attach, I am pretty sure. Some of the compacts with Zoom capabilities are probably SLRs, technically

      There are some "SLR-LIKE" cameras that are not SLRs, because they have a separate viewfinder which does not loo

  • by index0 (1868500)
    Are these cameras legal on the streets of USA? From this past decade of news, it seems like it is illegal in USA too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jmottram08 (1886654)
      Right, compare the US to a country that bans cameras. Everything is about you.

      The current police filming incidents are headed to the supreme court, where they will be overturned.

  • by Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:32PM (#34321730) Homepage
    If you can identify a journalist by his camera, it's easier to target journalists when you want to keep "bad news" from leaving the country.
    • by erroneus (253617)

      Also, large DSLR cameras are seemingly indistinguishable from weapons when viewed from helicopter. I seem to recall the murder/slaughter of civilians video showing a photographer carrying equipment being slaughtered while someone in the audio was saying "he's got a weapon!"

      • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        That's any camera. I've shot at people on a paintball field before because the photographer was in an aiming stance pointing at my teammates in a location I was expecting to find opposing players.

        • That's why photographers call it "shooting" pictures. With a telescopic lens, the stance of concentration can look like that of a rifleman from a distance. Or in the case of the video, someone holding what appears to be an RPG. So ya, I'm not surprised you fired back in the heat of the moment.

    • by syousef (465911)

      If you can identify a journalist by his camera, it's easier to target journalists when you want to keep "bad news" from leaving the country.

      It's not just that. It's also a lot easier to dismiss blurry evidence from a dinky little camera not suited to capturing fast action. I wonder how hybrids and high end interchangable lens non-DSLR cameras are classified. I was actually wondering how long it would take before some country banned (or licensed, with onerous requirements) cameras altogether. I guess Kuwait is leading the way...

  • by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:33PM (#34321766) Homepage

    Oops, I guess it is.

    http://www.pixiq.com/contributors/248 [pixiq.com]

  • by bhcompy (1877290)
    Guess I'll just use my old fashioned SLR and scan the developed photos. SLR is superior anyways, but that's another story
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Guess I'll just use my old fashioned SLR and scan the developed photos. SLR is superior anyways, but that's another story

      I've barely used my film SLR since I bought my digital SLR. As far as I know, my DSLR does far more than my film SLR (Nikon D80 vs Nikon F75). In fact, I will likely trade it in soon to get myself a new lens for my DSLR.

      I can take hundreds of photos for little cost, and keep them all or strip out the few that came out blurry because I was in a rush. I can do auto-exposure bracketing to

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      Guess I'll just use my old fashioned SLR and scan the developed photos. SLR is superior anyways, but that's another story

      Good luck with that. You know it's a totalitarian state rivaling anything else you have heard of like Iran, cuba, north korea, etc. The difference is they have the money to take care of problems created by totalitarianism...

      Kuwaiti police: I see you have a large professional camera, surely you know that those are prohibited unless you have a clearly displayed journalist ID badge

      Photographer: Ah ha, but this is a regular film SLR camera and not a digital one like the ban said!

      Kuwaiti police: (points autom

  • Tourists are to be affected by the new laws

    Does Kuwait have a booming tourism industry or something? I don't understand why they'd do this.

    Seriously, between idiots saying I can't take photos on or near their property, and police believing they have the right to seize or delete my photos, a lot of countries seem increasingly hostile to the notion of photography.

    WTF?

  • Along with porkchops and chitlins.

  • We've all seen or heard about such things. Primitive, uneducated, unsophisticated peoples often fear that cameras will steal their souls.

    Maybe DSLRs are considered big enough to steal souls while camera phones and point-and-shoots just aren't big enough to hold a soul.
    • So they think it's OK if journalists steal souls?
      • And that's why the Paparazzi are not true journalists, because they go after people who have no souls to capture to start with.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        So they think it's OK if journalists steal souls?

        Well, it's only fair. After all, they've already sold their own.

  • my flip video recorder is laughing very loudly.

  • I have a compact camera that fits in my pocket that takes *better* pictures than my big DSLR did; I have a (sadly, no longer working) Nikon D1X that is exactly what a professional camera looks like; big body, takes all Nikon lenses, but only shoots 5mp. Compact cameras can shoot up to 14mp, last time I looked. Say what you will about the lens, compact cameras can produce spy-agency-worthy images of ... uh ... whatever is spy-agency-worthy in Kuwait.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I have a (sadly, no longer working) Nikon D1X that is exactly what a professional camera looks like; big body, takes all Nikon lenses, but only shoots 5mp. Compact cameras can shoot up to 14mp, last time I looked.

      Well, you can easily buy DSLRs up into the 16 megapixel range. The fact that you bought one when they didn't have anywhere near the resolution of film doesn't indicate a problem with DSLRs, it makes you an early adopter who got stung.

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:44PM (#34321932)
    are clearly a danger to the public and should be banned. Thanks to the Kuwaiti government for finally standing up to the kuwaiti second amendment bullies.
  • Isn't everybody glad that Americans fought and died to liberate Kuwait in the early '90s? They are praising George Washington as they revel in freedom!

    I say we just withdraw from the entire Middle East. With the money we spend over there we could be on a hydrogen economy pretty quick.

  • ...because as we all *know*, terrorists only ever use DSLRs. Me, armed with a 14.6 megapixel Sony NEX and a small kit zoom lens can only produce crappy quality pictures which are easily outmatched by even my n-year old 6 megapixel Pentax SLR with the same zoom.

    Unless of course they want to crack down on journalists - but then journos are exempt.

    Okay, so maybe they're having a go at the camera manufacturers who wouldn't pay a bribe - but then the same manufacturers also make small cameras too.

    Ok, I'm stumped

  • Tourists?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Copley (726927) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @03:15PM (#34322384)

    "Tourists are to be affected by the new laws..."

    What tourists?! I live and work in Kuwait... As a country, it's really not a tourist hotspot! Any tourist coming here, even if they took snaps of the the most interesting features, would leave with only images of scrubby desert, busy highways, shopping malls, a few skyscrapers, and the Kuwait Towers.

    But, yes, it's a daft rule, and it may well affect the local amateur photography enthusiasts. However, Kuwaiti law is not consistently applied: If you're a Kuwaiti citizen, you'll often get away with something that a non-Kuwaiti would not - especially if you have a bit of 'wasta' (i.e. your father knows the second-cousin of the minister's uncle!)

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