philosophy

The dangers of having a BIG camera

Over the recent days there was a lot of media coverage due to fresh video evidence on the tragic death of Namir Noor-Eldeen, an Iraqi photographer working for Reuters.

A contributing factor in his accidental killing was when the gunner in an American Apache helicopter mistook his camera for an RPG.

Zoom lens: mistaken for an RPG

Zoom lens: mistaken for an RPG

Of course this is an almost-absurd event. War photographers might often actually be protected by their large and obvious cameras, identifying them as presumably neutral observers.
But this serves a good introduction to the point I actually want to make – the “best” camera is often not the best camera to have. You might be encumbered by it, or even worse, might not have it with you at all.

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It was a Nobel cause

A CCD sensor

A CCD sensor

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award one half of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics to Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith “for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor“. Willard and Boyle developed the first CCD sensor 40 years ago while working at Bell Labs. Luckily both of them are still alive to claim their prize, which just shows the advantage of being brilliant when you’re young!

Despite being superseded by the CMOS sensor in modern DSLR cameras, the CCD (Charged Coupled Device) remains the sensor of choice in almost all other digital cameras, ranging all the way from the cheapest cell phone to the space-grade sensor in the Hubble Space Telescope.

Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and the founder of the Nobel prize, wrote in is final will that the prizes should go to  “those who … shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. ” And a worthy and noble cause it is!

A Nobel prize medal

A Nobel prize medal