Kuwait Bans Cameras With Big Lenses -- Because People Might Get Worried [Updated]

from the huh? dept

Update: And, um, this story just got odder as the original article has been updated to state that the reporter got it flat out wrong, and no such ban has been instituted by the Kuwaiti government. I'm not exactly sure how one goes about getting such basic information totally wrong, but consider the rest of this post here for posterity, rather than accuracy.

This one is just confusing. According to the LA Times, Kuwait has announced that cameras with big lenses (i.e., DSLRs) are banned for use in public in the country -- with an exception for "journalism purposes." If it seems unclear as to why DSLRs were singled out, while smaller point-and-shoots and camera phones are allowed, it appears that folks in Kuwait don't understand it either. The best they can come up with is that many people haven't been "exposed to art," and won't know what a big camera is for.
What most Kuwaiti photographers have come to wonder is how such a decision could be reached by authorities, especially considering that digital cameras and cell phone cameras have the same abilities. What most people think of photography as a hobby has become a bit misguided due to the fact that the country has so little exposure to art. While using a DSLR, passersby may wonder if the camera is being used for the wrong reasons.... What often happens is that a big black camera tends to worry people. Taking a picture of a stranger would seem like much less of an issue if you were using a more discreet camera or even a cell phone.
If you thought some laws in the US didn't make much sense, at least you can be happy knowing that other countries are even more bizarre.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    They have size issues?

    I use to have a problem with having a small one and all the professionals around me having large ones. Then I learned that my small one can do just about anything the large ones can do. Plus I can't afford the upgrade.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Brian B. (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 8:43am

    Cultural

    It's much more likely to be a cultural issue than anything "weird". If you aren't used to having your picture taken as a culture, having strangers (ie. tourists) snapping shots of you and your loved ones can be intrusive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 8:49am

    Re: Cultural

    Then wouldn't they ban ALL cameras in public? Or is this more "security theatre", just banning the big, scary cameras that people notice?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 8:50am

    Re: They have size issues?

    I like big lenses and I cannot lie...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: They have size issues?

    you other photogs can't deny
    when a girl walks in with an itty-bitty (camera) case
    and a round lens in your face

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:04am

    Re: Re: Re: They have size issues?

    You get SPRUNG,
    Wanna get that shot,
    Cuz you noticed that lighting was hot,

    Now you're mad cuz it happens, it's common,
    Some asshole's photobombin'....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    ComputerAddict (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:18am

    Oh baby, I wanna get with you
    And take your picture
    My homeboys tried to warn me
    But that cam you got gets police so horny
    Ooh, Reflex Action
    you say you wanna get in my shot
    Well, move plz, pose plz
    Can we all get in a Group Please...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: They have size issues?

    You people are so wrong in so many ways...why do I come here again?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: They have size issues?

    (I love this crowd.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    Encore!

    Encore!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    DS, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re: They have size issues?

    Down with shoehorning.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:48am

    RIAA perimeter breach

    Parody of Sir-Mix-A- Lot without the express permission of the artist will result in fines of no less than $18,000 per incident. This is your one and only warning and we will be requesting that the host of this site remove the infringing content immediately.


    Sincerely,
    The RIAA

    And because we know you were thinking about putting this parody on youtube, don't.

    Sincerely
    The MPAA

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:55am

    Laws

    Laws don't always make sense. Its easy to take something and blow if way out of proportion and soon you've got a real scare going on. The media does this all the time. Its how they make their living! FUD is the bread and butter of journalism. This kind of thing is also favored by oppressive governments. Those that wish do as they please rather than follow the laws. Remember, if no one saw it, it didn't happen...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: They have size issues?

    "why do I come here again?"

    It's funny as hell? That's why I keep coming here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Bob, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 10:34am

    We flew into Aman, Jordan last year, and had to wait 45 minutes while they located a military officer to inspect our binoculars. We had two small, folding pair. The customs agent didn't seem to like the pair labeled "National Geographic". They did not seem concerned about my somewhat larger telephoto lens for my camera. Jordan does X-ray all incoming luggage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    B, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 11:43am

    kuwaiti's are silly

    I live in Kuwait currently working here. They are some of the most idiotic people I have ever dealt with. It doesn't surprise me they would make such a law. The majority of them are dessert people. They haven't gotten out of the stone age quite yet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 11:48am

    "..while smaller point-and-shoots and camera phones are allowed.."

    I think what they're trying to say is that Kuwait officials are probably suffering from a "size" inferiority complex. I'll let your imagination run wild with that one. ;D

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    People who are confused as to why they would ban large lenses but not smaller cameras that have "basically the same capabilities" would likely be less confused that smaller cameras do not HAVE "basically the same capabilities".

    Larger optics = higher maximum image quality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    Re:

    edit: "less confused IF THEY LEARNED that..."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Tommy, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    "Lens-Envy"

    It's a simple matter "Lens-Envy". The Kuwaitis are jealous of Americans going around their country shooting their big 9" Canons. while they are dinking around with their little point and shooters!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    Nah, comparing my point and shoot with my dad's SLR (both 12.2MP), lighting does more to make a good or bad picture then a giant lens. When it comes to special stuff (fish eye, polarized) the lens is all important. For security or privacy fears, SLRs and point and shoots are exactly the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Icoy, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:26pm

    Size doesn't matter!

    Size doesnt matter if they want to ban the DSLR cameras then same thing with the small digital cameras...if Kuwait Govt not contented then ban all cellphones with cameras too, things getting worst? shutdown all the shops selling DSLR Cameras, they don't care about the tourist and the tourism industry though you can't even find any tourist spot in this ridiculous country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 11:04pm

    seems weird but it would work against people who lug their slrs around which is weird anyway - why you so hardkore man? i'm with the kuwaitis

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Nov 26th, 2010 @ 11:02am

    DSLR cameras

    Didn't know that was what they are called, but one was used to hide explosives to kill a popular Afghan leader years ago, another was use to hide a gun to kill someone in a European country (I believe Yugoslavia) - but of course, there is no reason for such a law - we just said so, didn't we? And we is Americans, we is allowed to tell them furriners how to do things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2010 @ 4:00pm

    Re:

    DSLRs are much better at certain tasks. DSLR video provides a much more appealing picture than consumer camcorders, and a full frame DSLR can take much nicer pictures than a point and shoot, all conditions being equal. However, aesthetic issues aside, if someone is taking a picture for practical purposes ("I want a picture of that person as he leaves the house.") there is little or no difference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 27th, 2010 @ 6:12pm

    Retraction

    The Kuwait Times issued a retraction on the whole thing.

    http://www.kuwaittimes.net/read_news.php?newsid=MzAwMTg4ODg1

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Jake, Nov 27th, 2010 @ 8:47pm

    Actually, there's twisted kind of logic to it. It just requires you to accept as a fact that there are more terrorists and armed robbers in the world than people willing to spend that kind of money on a recreational activity. Given the kind of sums we're talking about, this might even be true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Paul Brook, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 5:23am

    Hold on...

    I just don't understand. Was this in some way a ban on things that could potentially look like the scope of a sniper riffle?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This