Here’s an odd little quirk of the modern age you’re not likely to see again soon. South of Holborn in London (many nice bookstores in the area), there’s a tube station that has been out of use for decades. Aldwych (previously Strand) station has been preserved as an historical landmark and used in a number of films and shows. Just recently it was opened up to the public for tours: £20 for entry, doubtless an interesting spectacle popular among both tourists and locals.
And just outside, a sign reading: “Due to their combination of high-quality sensor and high resolution, digital SLR cameras are unfortunately not permitted inside the station.” How delightfully absurd!
Now, naturally there must be some restrictions on recording equipment. You mustn’t use flash photography on the Mona Lisa, and professional videographers and photographers apply for licenses for off-hours shoots and so on. So it’s not like you can bring your tripod, flash umbrella, models and stylists to do an impromptu shoot wherever you like. But really, now. A wholesale ban on an extremely popular device very likely to be possessed by the people coming to this location?
And of course the DSLR format is by no means a guarantee of quality pictures, if preventing quality is the aim of this policy. A mobile phone will take better pictures than DSLRs from a few years back if used properly. And compact high-quality cameras are gaining ground as well: would the security guards confiscate an X100 or Olympus PEN camera?
In the case of a museum or tour, in which the property is in fact private and you are paying for admission, you must agree to their silly rules, though I expect such rules will soon be dropped as they are recognized as pointless and ineffective. But this kind of ignorant restriction is of a piece with the more disturbing ones we see placed on public photography, in which entire buildings are supposedly immune to picture-taking from the street. The rules are imaginary, of course, or at best arbitrary, as shown here. It’s not even worth arguing about how you might circumvent it.
This sign is something you can just shake your head at and buy a postcard to make up for a lack of photos, but the mindset behind it — aggressive ignorance — is dangerous.
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