Cameras prejudiced against Asians?

Squeezed May 13, 2009

Blogger jozjozjoz is having issues with the technology in her camera lately, going so far as to call her camera (gasp) racist.

As I was taking pictures of my family, it kept asking “Did someone blink?” even though our eyes were always open. Sheesh! RACIST!

Did someone blink?

The camera in question was a Nikon S630. I have a Nikon as well, but it’s a D40 DSLR. My first thought when I heard this was this: Nikon is a Japanese company. (In fact, they pronounce it differently there…NEE-kone rather than NIGH-konn.) So you would think that they should have designed this anti-blink feature with Asian eyes in mind. Because as most people know, when we Asians smile (which, after all, is what you do in front of a camera 99% of the time), our eyes all but disappear. Kinda annoying when you’d have to fight with your camera on this.

As I thought about it, though, it made me wonder. Photographers come in two stripes. One type gravitates toward the DSLR, interchangeable lenses, and off-camera flash; the other type wants the camera to do all the work. Point, shoot, done. The camera makers have bent over backward to make cameras easy to use for point-and-shooters, and for the most part they’ve succeeded.

For instance, in modern point-and-shoot cameras, we see autofocus mechanisms that focus in on faces, cameras that release the shutter when the subject smiles, and (as you can see) cameras that detect the dreaded blink.

While this technology is all well and good, sometimes I wonder whether camera technology is becoming too smart for its own good. I’d probably imagine that if the camera hadn’t tried to be helpful, “racism” probably wouldn’t be an issue here. :)

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