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This gentleman was REJECTED from getting a permit at Antelope Canyon because he has a mirrorless camera!

What do you think about this?

Even worse, this gentleman happened to be the Great +Gordon Laing, the guy that runs the amazing CameraLabs.com !  I heard this last night at dinner and was SHOCKED.  Like Gordon, I also believe that cameras that have mirrors that flip around inside are a breed that will mostly die out over time (I quoted the Great Gordon in my article about this at http://www.stuckincustoms.com/2012/01/04/dslrs-are-a-dying-breed-3rd-gen-cameras-are-the-future/

The notion that a "real photographer" has to have a camera with a mirror that mechanically flips from 0 degrees to 45 degrees is very odd.  And to think he was rejected from a certain tour group because of this condescending, arbitrary policy is beyond comprehension!
 
Antelope Canyon - got a mirrorless camera? No permit for you!

I spent a lovely hour at Lower Antelope Canyon near Page in Arizona this morning. Antelope Canyon is a famous slot canyon carved by flash floods which have exposed beautifully coloured rock walls with grooved surfaces. The canyon itself is a narrow passageway about two stories deep and around a couple of meters wide. In places you have to squeeze your self through, but unlike caving there's rarely a feeling of claustrophobia. If you can climb down some narrow stairs, you'll have no problem paying a visit.

Antelope Canyon is probably most famous for beams of sunlight, which at the right time of day and year can create dramatic-looking tubes of light, shining down through the fine dust. As such it's become a mecca for photographers and tourists alike.

There's actually two Antelope Canyons: Upper and Lower, located on opposite sides of a main road. A quick turn off and you're there moments later. They're Navajo National Parks and you'll need to pay a fee to enter. Upper Antelope Canyon is widely regarded to have 'better' sunbeams, and as such is the more crowded of the two. I wanted to avoid or at least minimize the crowds, so headed to Lower Antelope Canyon. I should also add that having seen lots of photos of the sunbeams in the canyons, I now find them a little contrived or even cheesy. Impressive, yes, but I just don’t really like the effect. For me I much prefer to avoid the sky, ground and sunbeams altogether, and instead focus on the beautiful, abstract swirly patterns and colours. I don't even want it to be immediately obvious which way up the image should be.

I knew what to expect in terms of pictures as I'd visited Lower Antelope Canyon a few years ago during November. It was very quiet then and I think I was pretty much alone down there other than about five other photographers. Back then I took my Mamiya 7II medium format film camera. This time was a different story. It's been a surprisingly warm October and also a lot busier than I expected; indeed it's been hard to find accommodation in some towns. As I drew-up to Lower Antelope Canyon parking area, there were already a lot of cars present and a small queue at the entry.

For safety reasons, both Canyons are only accessible by tours, in groups of around 20 people, leaving every 15 minutes or so. The fee at Lower Antelope Canyon in October 2012 was $26 USD for entry and a tour lasting about an hour. I believe Upper Antelope Canyon is more expensive.

Photographers will however be pleased to learn there's another option. You can request a permit which allows you to enter and 'self-guide' for up to two hours. This is what I did the first time I visited, and what I wanted to do again, but today was different. I'd already been identified as a potentially serious photographer due to my tripod, but then the man in the ticket office asked to see my camera. I produced my Panasonic GX1 to which he asked 'does that have a mirror?' 'No!' I proudly replied, to which he said 'then you can't have a permit'! He then explained that permits were only granted to people carrying DSLRs or film cameras, especially larger formats. This makes sense as it separates the serious photographers from the tourists with the point-and-shoots on wobbly tripods. To keep the crowds flowing through the Canyons, the latter would be kept in tour groups, while only the former would be allowed to roam free.

It's a fine idea, but like all these things, where do you draw the line and importantly which side will you be on? Well, the managers of Antelope Canyons in their wisdom drew the line with mirrors. I was actually told I could not have a self-guided photographer's permit because I had a mirror-less camera. I of course tried to explain my camera was every bit as serious as a DSLR in terms of quality, control and lens choice, but he was adamant: no mirror, no permit.

I really didn't want to join a group of 20 others, so he offered me another option: a private tour with my own guide. It sounded expensive, but in fact cost the same as a group tour! So off I went with Reuben, my guide, who turned out to be a photographer himself, although one who also strongly believed mirrors were the way forward.

As it happened, it all worked out really well. Despite our initial differences of opinion, I soon warmed to Reuben and I think he was at least bemused, if not actually interested in my ramblings about future camera trends. More importantly he knew all the good angles in the Canyon and while I normally don't like being advised which direction is best for the shot, he did point out a lot of angles and compositions I'd not noticed. He also listened to my preference of no sky or ground.

I should also add that during my time down there, two or three tours shuffled past and I was impressed to see their guides allowing plenty of time for all the photographers in the group to set up their shots. It didn't seem rushed at all or creatively compromised, other than being in a group environment. Many also had cameras with mirrors and decent tripods! Interestingly I met with some people who'd visited Upper Antelope Canyon at the exact same time and they had a much less enjoyable experience, describing it as a zoo at times and noted several photographers being told to hurry up! Then again it easy to get lost in the experience, but it did reinforce my view that despite the fewer sunbeams, the Lower Canyon is a nicer overall choice.

So what do you need when you're down there? Technically speaking the Canyons benefit from very wide angle shots. They can be dusty too, so you probably don't want to be swapping lenses down there. You'll also want to shoot with small apertures for a nice large depth-of-field, and thankfully the subject matter won't be greatly affected by diffraction, so feel free to use f11, f16 or even smaller. Small apertures and low light levels will however result in long exposures, typically of at least a few seconds if you're using the lowest ISOs for the best quality, so a tripod is absolutely necessary.

As you already know, I took my Panasonic GX1 and as luck would have it, I was travelling with the perfect lens for the job: the Lumix 7-14mm ultra wide zoom, equivalent to 14-28mm. I had these mounted on my Gitzo 1514T traveller tripod with Markins ball head. I took lots of single exposures, but also captured some bracketed sequences just in case I choose to apply some evil HDR techniques at a later date! 

The photo you see here is just one I've quickly grabbed from my selection today: it’s a single exposure of 1.6 seconds at f10 and 160 ISO (the base for the GX1). The lens was set to 28mm equivalent and the white balance set to daylight. There's minimal processing other than a slight tweak of the levels, so what you're looking at is very close to what came straight out the camera and what I saw in person. I hope to share some of the better ones at a later date, but really wanted to discuss my entry experience with you sooner rather than later!

I'm really pleased with the photos I took today in my brief hour exploring Lower Antelope Canyon, and also happy with my private tour. Ultimately though I remain concerned by the management's judgment call on what constitutes a serious camera - or at least one serious enough to allow an independent permit. The guy behind the counter knew what he was looking for, and had already identified my camera as mirror-less before even asking. Last time I visited with a medium format film camera, which ticked all the right boxes for the permit, but this time my choice of camera actually prevented the access I desired.

I genuinely believe mirror-less cameras are the future, and while it'll take a while before they dominate DSLRs, more and more of us will start using them as our cameras of choice, especially when travelling. I've always enjoyed jesting with friends about who's carrying the most 'serious' camera, or chatting with pros who often feel they have to carry a big camera to be taken seriously by clients, but this is the first time I've been inconvenienced or potentially compromised due to my choice of carrying a mirror-less camera. Has anyone experienced anything like this anywhere else? Either way, if you're planning a trip to Antelope Canyon, the message is clear: if you want a photographer's permit, make sure you have a mirror.

(cc +Trey Ratcliff , +Robert Scoble , +Olympus , +Ken McMahon )
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99 comments
 
This is fabulous looks like carved wood ...
 
So if I went with a Leica rangefinder I'd be refused?   That's just insane - there is no reason anyone should be denied from going on a tour or receiving a permit anywhere for what camera they're using.  Even if it's an old Blackberry.  It should not matter ever.
 
Guess my iPhone won't pass... Absolutely ridiculous. 
 
I can't get over how unreal the nature can be. Thank you for expending my awarness.
 
So like... would he destroy canyon with his camera or what? Whats the thought behind this policy?
 
backwards...someone needs to bring these people into the now and future.
 
Well GF1 is a good camera I heard which is quite close to DSLRs in image quality etc but... those people at the entrance maybe aren't aware of this.

I agree mirrorless is the future though maybe DSLRs are as well. I myself love my Sony NEX-3 and won't trade it even for Mark III
 
I'm going to disagree with everyone here.  Limiting photographer credentials to dSLR carrying individuals seems like a reasonable choice to me.  They have to draw the line somewhere.

I would add however, that they should also allow photographers to present credentials in evidence of their professional nature.  But unlike the rest of you I do not believe mirrorless cameras are serious cameras - yet.

When you can get something that generates images that are the equivalent of say a 5D in a mirrorless format, then YES!  But today's mirrorless cameras for the most part have crappy lens choices available, fewer features, and menu driven selection of options which slow down photography dramatically.

One last thing.  Even when every camera is mirrorless, there will still be big professional versions that have higher resolution, better lens selection, more manual controls, etc.  So, there's always going to be an obvious "professional" level of gear.
 
This gentleman was REJECTED from joining a tour group at Antelope Canyon because he has a mirrorless camera!

He was not rejected from a joining a tour group but rejected from getting a permit for entering the canyon on its own WITHOUT a tour group.

I also heard about this policy and like some other native Indian policies this is a bit too strict. The same applies if two people want to have a foto permit and only one has a tripod. Then the other one has to stay outside or join a group.
In Feb 2011 my wife was allowed to come with me even without a camera. So the change in policy must have happened afterwards.
 
Hey you tourist- where's the fabric hood and wet plates for your image box?
 
Perhaps the "powers that be" at Antelope Canyon should be presented with a copy of the above image so they can see for themselves that regardless of their policies, they are wrong to limit someone with a photographic vision from using whatever imaging device they choose. Another good case in point is +Kalebra Kelby with her iphone images which rival the beautiful images produced by many "professional" cameras. 
 
Yes I am interested at what the thought is behind the policy is as well. Are they believing that only good quality DSLRs can shoot good pictures that represent the canyon well? If so how do they prevent someone from taking out their cell phone for a instagram shot etc..?
 
They will not prevent anyone from taking cell phone pictures. You just do not get a foto permit. That's it. Take a group tour and make pictures with your cell phone. As many as you like.

BTW, even if you have a DSLR without a tripod NO foto permit.
 
This is just pure stupid elitism. 
 
I can't get over how stupid it is that if I went with my Leica M9 & RRS tripod, that I couldn't get a permit.
 
The policy sounds ridiculous to anyone who knows that possession of a DSLR does not a serious photographer make.  However, in reading +Gordon Laing's post it is made clear that their policy is intended to reserve the private self-guided permits for "serious photographers" which I'm sure would be appreciated by said serious photographers and Gordon noted the policy is well intended.  +Trey Ratcliff states incorrectly that he was rejected from joining a tour group, he was rejected from getting a self-guided permit.  Once Gordon convinced them he was a serious photographer they gave him an option.  I think the policy is well intended so instead of over-reacting does anyone have an alternate suggestion for how they can easily and quickly make that assessment?
 
Very strange on how they chose to differentiate on what is an acceptable "serious camera" and what is not, to say the least.
 
Wow.  I was out there a couple of months ago.  I was planning on going to see the Antelope Slot Canyons, but I am glad I didn't.  I have a Leica M9 and I guess I would have been turned away. So silly. Good thing I did not waste that day.
 
I bet they would let a Leica mirrorless in.......just sayin'.  but then you see the Sony RX1 which I imagine will be a VERY capable full frame camera.  (with fixed lens)
 
+Autumn Ginkgo Leaves 100% agree, your comment sums it all up, nothing else needs to be said. what makes a photographer is not the camera he uses.
 
+David Floyd not so sure.  People are just stupid sometimes, and look for big, bulky cameras with long lenses and assume that it is the equipment and not the guy or gal holding it that makes the photo.  +Dave Powell had his M9 mistaken for a point and shoot and was allowed to bring it into a concert where "pro" gear was not allowed.  Just shows you that people judge things superficially.
 
Sounds like they drew the line where someone could be trained to identify the line. Identifying a professional photographer by his gear can be very unreliable. Money buys the gear and the skill and eye make the photographer. A good photographer knows how best to use their gear and environment around them to get that perfect shot.
 
sounds like the park svc has issues
 
I think they are just trying to limit the number of people to limit the impact on the area.  There is a park around here that does not allow dogs.  I know the person who set the policy and it was nothing about dogs.  They needed to cut the number of visitors in half and half the people had dogs so either no dogs or only people with dogs.  

If I were setting the policy in the canyon case, I would have said the camera must have interchangeable lenses.

For a real bad policy, in California you need a permit if you have a professional looking camera.  +Mike Spinak was told to leave a park because he was taking pictures with a EOS 1Ds.  I tried to get a permit but as it required $1million in liability insurance, dropped it.  It is a law aimed at the movie industry but picks up photographers.  With a mirrorless camera, you are probably safe.
 
Interesting rule given that large formats (which they allow) are mirrorless as well :) Glad Gordon tried to talk some sense into them. If they get a steady stream of people explaining this, the rules will hopefully get altered in time. It's about the photographer and not his gear :) 
 
bwahahahaha!!! Thats freaking hillarious. A good photographer can do more with a freakin point n shoot than an idiot with a DSLR.
 
Lower Antelope Canyon is awesome!  Sorry to hear about the problems but I can sympathize with the native Americans who are trying very hard to allow serious photographers the opportunity to get a few good images.  Both Upper and Lower canyon are often very crowded and, I, for one, was glad to have a native American photographer guide who was allowed to keep the "masses" at bay while I was trying to get a good shot.  Yes, I did pay more for this (and they don't discriminated about the camera you are using) but I was there in the middle of summer with only one opportunity to be there...and, it was worth it.  Try Carol Bigthumb's photography tours next time....it really is worth it for the fabulous slot canyon.
 
Two things: 1. They should adjust their policy to consider cameras with removable lenses instead, and B. LOL at "evil HDR techniques"
 
Awesome photograph Trey! Beautiful!
 
Many years ago I hustled through the lower canyon with my then new Canon 1-D, but the rush was more to keep up with the  changing light and sun rays that only show up for a few minutes in each place. The guide was great, could not have gotten the shots I did without her, plus she'd throw up some sand and dust to make the sun's light rays visible, almost like having an assistant. The private guided tours there are very much worth it. They'll catch on to the "mirrorless" new designs, I'm sure.
 
+Gregory Russo I really don't think someone is stupid because they don't happen to know about Leica cameras.  Your comment is inappropriate.  Nor is someone stupid because they can't assess the photography abilities of a person by looking at them.  If we believe the policy is well-intended (and I'm not saying it is or isn't) then they need a way to distinguish the serious photographers.  Perhaps a better way is to have certain times during the day for serious photographers and/or charge more for "photographer permits" than for joining a tour group?
 
Thanks for sharing this +Trey Ratcliff and thanks also for all your comments. It's an interesting situation, but to be fair to the owners / managers of the Canyons, they are pretty photographer-friendly. As it stands they have to have organised tours of about 20 people at a time just to get the numbers through there safely and to ensure people get their shots without hoards wandering between 'stops' on the tour. I'm also impressed they make exceptions for serious photographers by identifying them and giving them permits which allow them to self-guide. I did this a few years ago and it worked really well, and while I was down there this time, the self-guiders were behaving well.

But the point of the story of course is what constitutes a serious or a professional photographer. In the absence of a press card or some written credential, they have no choice but to judge you on equipment, and as we all know there are folk with top-end cameras who are beginners and folk with budget gear who can out-shoot us all.

Then as I discovered, there's the thorny issue of more modern cameras which technically are as serious or capable as a traditional DSLR, but are a different form factor. Maybe it's a mirrorless interchangeable lens system like I was carrying, or it could be a fixed lens premium camera like a Leica M9 or a Sony RX1.

A tricky situation, although one which they resolved by simply giving me a private tour guide at no extra cost. That said, if they hadn't given me that option, then I would have had to join a group which I really did not want to do.
 
Clearly, the solution is to carry an old 8x10 view camera as a case and keep your mirror-less camera inside! Once inside the park, you just open your "case" and mount the camera to your tripod. :]. I'm not a Mirror-less fan. But I'm shooting mostly sports and they're not up to that kind of job yet. The thing I don't like about them is the electronic viewfinders or lack thereof. I prefer the clearer view through the viewfinder. Maybe one day...
 
wow! i thought it was a photo of fire there for a minute. thats definitely a keeper!
 
It sounds like a well run ship and god knows we need to encourage photographer friendly sites :) I guess the best way to determine pro v amateur is to simply to have the people pay for a permit. If I travel and take the time to get there, I'll pay whatever the amount is to get my shots. Having the staff try to figure it out with the gear,etc. is naturally pretty messy system.
 
+John Pozadzides I respectfully disagree concerning lenses. I've been shooting Micro Four Thirds for the last six months on my world trip and I selected it on both size AND the quality and selection of lenses available. I'm carrying the Lumix 7-14mm f4, Leica 25mm f1.4 and Olympus 45mm f1.8, all of which are outstanding lenses which outperform pretty much any full-format DSLR lenses I've tested in terms of sharpness right up to the corners. 

There's also some classics for the Sony NEX system, most notably the Zeiss 24mm f1.8. Then there's the entire Fuji X-Pro system, which has great lenses.

I agree most of the CSC sensors to date can't compete on noise or tonal range with larger full frame formats, but as we all know, noise and dynamic range only constitute two factors in overall image quality. Optical quality is another crucial factor, and for me when I'm shooting an image with detail across the frame, I want it to be pin sharp corner-to-corner. I can achieve this with my system to a much better extent than most full-frame DSLR lenses which actually don't always perform as well in the corners as you hope.

And full-frame is coming to compact cameras. Obviously Leica has had it for ages, but now we have the Sony RX1 too, so times are a changin...!
 
That's pretty sad to be judged by something as archaic as a mirror in this day and age of development of camera equipment.  Thanks for sharing this post.  very informative. 
 
Well said +Gordon Laing, it's very refreshing that you have taken the time to acknowledge they are, in fact, trying to be photographer friendly.  Their system isn't perfect but they are trying... if the photographers emotionally over-react they may change their policy to not allow self-guided or private tours at all.
 
I would hardly call this an example of an arbitrary, condescending policy. Rather is is just another example of a policy that has not kept up with the frantic pace of technological advancement. 
 
I agree +Autumn Ginkgo Leaves , in fact I'm also carrying the Leica 45mm macro. There's loads of premium choices AND they all become stabilised when you mount them on an Olympus body...
 
wow its really amazing
 
Next year it will be 24megapixel or better and carbon fiber tripods only, and I still can't take my NEX-7!
 
Ugh. Tour groups. For some interesting shots off the beaten path, check out the San Rafael Swell area a bit further north in Utah. http://goo.gl/YB64h Our favorite is a place called Goblin Valley, which is crying out for someone with your talent to shoot some photos there! (No tour groups, and they don't care about your camera style either.) Here's the current image search for Goblin Valley: http://goo.gl/nrQdq
 
Lovely picture... I also shoot with a GX1, so I especially enjoyed this post.
 
Playing the contrarian here. From the Antelope Park administrators perspective, their main goal is to reduce the number of people from taking private tours so that flow is not hindered and crowds move through smoothly. Would you rather have no option of private tours at all?  So picking the mirror as the differentiating criteria may have been a relic from old technological past, but given the percentage of mirror-less  DSLRs available that can give a serious run for the money to traditional DSLRs is very small. So the criteria for 'mirror' still to a large extent separate 'Pro' DSLRs from the others. The exceptions (mirror less) are so small in number that it does not skew the overall result.   I am guessing in the past they probably only allowed film format SLRs only and must have modified their criteria to 'mirror' to keep up with times as DSLRs got introduced.  The criteria for differentiating the 'Pro'/'Serious' photographer from the 'crowd' based on their equipment alone in itself is questionable practice. A great photographer can take a great photo with any reasonable equipment. On the other hand a bad/clueless photographer may take worse photos with the best equipment.  So we have to understand their logic behind this practice. They have these main criteria

  1)  Crowd control and smooth flow
  2)  Give benefit of doubt to serious/professional photographers so as to support artistic creativity and at the same time benefit from free advertising that these great photos taken by great photographers provides.For eg: I did not know about Antelope canyan's beauty and whether it is worth a trip until now and until the great pics I found on Google convinced me
 3)  Find an easy, quick, cost effective and reasonably accurate guessing mechanism for identifying serious/pro photographers which even their possibly non-photography skilled staff can also enforce/implement.


Keeping the above three criteria in mind, checking for 'mirror' makes a lot of sense in the current situation. If mirror less cameras become more and more main stream, then they would be forced to 'update' their criteria as well. But that time is still a bit far in the future.


What would you guys suggest the mechanism should be that can fit all the three criteria above?

- If there were a professional photography club (like AAA for Auto) then such ID card might prove the 'seriousness' of Pro guys more effectively. But I know that folks like Trey don't believe or subscribe to such associations.(I forgot the name, but Trey mentioned in some posts about some photographers association that he does not believe in, since they do more harm than good)

- May be there is something equivalent of a 'klout' score for photographers that can be verified by the staff with quick lookup on internet. I like this most, since it is crowd influenced reputation. May be G+ can provide different 'industry' specific  'G-score' reputation rating similar to that of klout.

- Have interested folks 'try' for a permit at a private kiosk on the side by answering photography based multiple choice questions. (Park can make this cost effective  by administering this 'exam'  over a smartphone that has an 'Exam app' instead of a kiosk.)
 
 
sorry for the experience. I once went with photography group to the up Upper Canyon. it was in later may when the sunbeams were more direct. it was a very busy time of year. there was about 20 in the group. 2 guides would block off the tourist so the pro photography group could take their time with the pictures. this actually worked well during a busy time of year. still a little rushed but workable. next trip I'll take your advice and go to the lower Canyon. do
you know how late in the season they stay open.
 
On a second note I don't think Trey would have went to an epic place like Antelope Canyon without his D 800. He would have packed his mirrorless camera to have as a backup. Mirrorless cameras are still a novelty and I can see the point of view of the park employees.
 
I'm of the camp that kind of really dislikes the new mirrorless cameras. But I'm an old fogey when it comes to photography. ;) Glad it still worked out for you! The image is great. (and proof that we should all use the photographic tools that work for us!)
 
I never thought to worry about about mirrorless discrimination! I guess I know to lie if I'm ever asked about my E-M5
 
Hell-o-o-o-o-o...

It's THEIR canyon.  It's on THEIR land.  THEY get to make the rules.  Not you.

Gripe all you want, throw all the hissyfits you want, call them "stupid" all you want -- I doubt they will care.  They already have more business than they can handle, so losing yours isn't going to make a nickels' worth of difference to them.

If you don't like their rules, don't go.
 
+Ken Barber I'm all for folks enforcing whatever rules they want to. The lack of a mirror just seems like a strange line in the sand at this point. I don't think it's "stupid", but perhaps a bit outdated. 
Dan Sr
 
I visited Antelope Canyon last week with my 5D Mark II and had a wonderful guide (first tour of the day).  He took exception care and time to point out the best shots and angles - I was really impressed.

Now for the not so good news.  I took over 500 shots and when I got to the Grand Canyon (next stop on my tour), guess what - I lost the compact flash card there.  Over 500 shots and a $6,000 tour of the mid-west and I lost ALL of my Antelope pictures.

I have lost and found reports filed at the Grand Canyon, but as of today - no luck.

A fabulous experience at Antelope Canyon turned into a very disappointing day ... and ... before you ask - I DID NOT HAVE MY NAME AND PHONE NUMBER ON MY CARD.

So ... here is a tip for you.  GO RIGHT NOW AND DO JUST THAT.

All I have now is the memories of what my Antelope Canyon pictures looked like on my LCD - they looked amazing. SOB SOB
Chi Liu
 
Wow. That's shocking and a little discriminatory in terms of the type of camera he has. I own a mirrorless camera and I'm proud to say that most of my pictures produced are just as good - if not better than some "high end" full frame dslrs. 
Chi Liu
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I agree with another responder on here. This kinda thing reeks of elitism. That's like driving to a restaurant valet and they refuse to park your car because its not a Lexus, Benz or Bimmer. I really dislike this type of thinking. If u paid for the tour, u paid for the tour. There's so many other issues going on in the world than to "bucket" folks based on a mirror.
 
Thanks all for the good discussion...

I do understand the need for rules... but the rules should not be stupid.

Gordon can take great photos with his camera that does not have a mirror that flips from 0 to 45 degrees... the is no good reason that he is singled out.
 
It's about money. It used to be wide open, but they're trying to maximize profit from their hole in the ground. Nothing wrong with that, just not very well thought out and the way they do it rubs a lot of people the wrong way. I first went to Antelope in 2005. Paid money, they point over to the entrance hole, and off I went. 2007, same but already price was going way up. Oh and it had flooded and you could only go halfway down, but you paid full price. 2008 winter time, I was the first one there. One guy walked through to make sure no snakes fell in during the night, then left me alone. Again big price increase. 2011 summer. I had a tripod and wanted to do the photo thing. I had my wife and friend with me. I was allowed to take 1 person with me but not two. I couldn't even pay for another photo thing because you have to have a tripod to qualify. It wasn't enough that my wife had a camera with a mirror, must have tripod. Even dumber, we wound up going in a group, and then the group leader guy just let us go on our own. So they made less money but let us do the same thing. Oh and it cost a lot lot more that time.
Something else, if you have Laurent Martres book on photographing the area, it mentions that going to Antelope qualifies you for a Navajo land day pass and you can then use that to enter the slot canyon south of Page. I know, I did this in 2005. Not anymore. Have to pay extra. Always pay pay pay. And hey you want to print one of your photos and sell it? Pay for a commercial shooting license. 
Considering the crowds, I guess they will keep raising prices, but it gets to where there's so many other amazing things in the area to photograph that it's not worth it.
 
+Gordon Laing I believe we're all in violent agreement about what a decent tool can do in the hands of a professional.  And while I feel the current crop of micro-cameras are decent, I have had the opposite experience with lens quality as you have reported.  One day it would be interesting to get together and do some tests.  I will defer to your expertise since I have only toyed with the non dSLRs.

Until then, I believe there is still an argument to be made that mirrorless designs are not yet professional grade. For example, I've yet to hear a wedding photographer espousing the virtues of their mirrorless images (except as a backup), and despite the rapidfire abilities of some of the small Sonys, there are no sports photographers on NFL sidelines taking pictures with those cameras.

And so I think it's worth noting there is a difference between professional tool, and professional ability.  Michelangelo had crude instruments, but I'd rather have him carve me a sculpture today than anyone alive with modern power tools.  But does anyone doubt that if he were alive today he would have the best tools available?

I submit that if we were to take the top 20 photographers on Google+ and set up a juried competition, judged by their peers, with a grand prize of $1 million for the greatest photo of them all - not one of those photographers would show up to the competition with a mirrorless camera.

If I'm right, and I know that's a big if, it proves that these designs are not professional grade today.  After all, only an idiot brings a knife to a gunfight. ;-)
 
+Rob Knight, +Trey Ratcliff -- I agree that the rules are a bit... hmmm, not sure what word to use here -- arbitrary?

But since this involves one of the tiny plots of land that the U.S. Gov't finally allowed the native tribes to keep, after multiple broken treaties and other indignities, I'm inclined to cut them quite a bit of slack.  More than I would cut most other folks.
 
Kinda like when flight attendents don't let you use your phone or certain devices on an airplane even when it is on airplane mode.
 
And I was just saying yesterday that I wanted to get a mirrorless, because I'm fed up with the clunk noise every time I take a shot. Great bird scarer!
 
and where would my leica digilux 2 fall into all this or my leica dlux 4?
 
Bring back the glass plates, wooden box on a tripod, black cape and flash powder!

And while they're at it, bring back top hats...and get rid of those horseless carriage contraptions too!


In all seriousness, if it captures an image...let it be.
 
well I"m so glad to know that when I'm in the market for my next camera, it's not the lenses or sensor I should be comparing but the mirror. Now my only question is, full frame mirror or crop mirror?
 
There are hundreds of canyons in that area. I've been to a few with my Fuji X100 and my Zeiss Ikon (35mm film), without any problems. I guess your experience may vary depending on the particular canyon you pick and the tour agent (there is some overlap).

Edit: No, I don't agree with the policy. Please write reviews for the tour agent and the canyon, so that people find it when looking at the options.
 
Yes, but..
I can totally understand your frustration. The new gen of mirrorless  are such great tools, especially in experienced hands. On the other hand I really appreciate that such a great opportunity exists at all! The selection process might not be perfect but as a hobbyist one normally does not get such options at all.
We've been to both antelopes this year and the guided tours where really crowded and I was not able to get a single decent shot. But when I did the "self-guided" tour the next day I just got so many amazing shots: (Here my favorite: https://plus.google.com/photos/107440737920263428175/albums/5799116008089654369/5799116271776424834)
 
I think we all forget the "tripod" in the story ...
 
Gordon's article is actually really great... Too bad most people will just remember it for one rather "who cares" point.

Good job to gordon for being creative and overcoming an obstacle that would apparently trip up lots of others.
 
I have loved, and still love following your posts. I DID NOT LIKE you saying, "real photographer ".That made me feel bad. I do think it is ridiculous to turn him or anyone away for their camera mirror!
 
I think it's crap. Mirrorless is a real camera.
 
A wonderful composition and capture +Gordon Laing The colours, shadows and lines are superb. I agree with you and +Trey Ratcliff that the mirrorless camera prohibition is bizarre and is overdue for repeal.
 
I was last there in 2008 and shot with the Canon xti (the body does the basics but the glass is all "L") in both upper and lower as well as a private tour of Canyon X, this rule is ridiculous for 4x5 and 8x10 purists. I have yet to see a mirror in a view camera ;-)
 
My takeaway from this discussion is the same as most about this type of photography: Save your money for some good boots and find your own amazing shot. There is no doubt this is a one-of-a-kind location, but it's been shot to death. The rule is arbitrary and unintelligent, but it's the rule. So vote with your dollar and take an amazing shot somewhere else.
 
Thanks to all authors and comments: I guess Indians are owners of that land so, that’s their rules and I just trying to clarify them for myself, and didn’t catch all details yet. I’ll appreciate if someone here may help me:
1. If me (with mirror camera)  go with mine wife (with camcorder) , both with tripods, guess can we both satisfy “Photo category”, right?
2. What price nowadays for Photo permit and “Personal guided tour” permit?
3. Am I right that “Photo permit” allows to be in canyon without group & guide during <= 2 hours?
3. If I have mirror camera + tripod, am I must to pay for “Photo permit”? Or is it just a best way to minimize crowds and have a better opportunities to photos?

I’ll appreciate any answers and comments!
 
They just want to limit the self-tours to a reasonable number and it's a Native American Tribal Park (not National), so they get to make their own rules.  It seems strange that people are complaining about their rules as if it's a government policy.  Do they know anything about reservations and Tribal Parks?  It doesn't sound as if they have a clue.

Think about it, to really get at who is a serious photographer and who is a tourist who wants snapshots (who they want to go on the tours) would take much too long.  They made it simple and easy with no judgment involved.  Also, they are being more than reasonable to offer 1 on 1 tours for the same price as the group tours.  It all makes sense to me.

 I'm there right now, by the way, and am considering doing it tomorrow, though the forecast is for clouds and it's December.  I already did the upper canyon group tour on a previous visit and it was actually fine.  I had plenty of time to get shots and people were nice about it.  Everything about Antelope Canyons is overshot, so I don't really get cheesy.  But I do like that shot.  

By the way, what is this stuff about dropping names (who I've never heard of) with the adjective "great" in front of the name?  Is that supposed to be tongue in cheek?  I sincerely hope so.  Otherwise Trey whatsisname is a real dork.

I'm open-minded about mirrorless but for now think of them as good travel cameras.  Until they fully match quality/noise performance in the same variety of conditions as full-frame DSLRs, I'll withhold judgment about their "taking over" the camera world.  It all sounds like hyperbole to me.
 
+Trey Ratcliff yep- this is bunk! It happened to us last week! My girlfriend was rejected from a "photographers permit" because her camera was mirrorless and her tripod was too short. She loves the perspective of the shorter 'pod and her camera is great. So they made her take the standard guided tour (separated from me) which wouldn't allow her shorter tripod to be used at all. Also- her "guide" wanted to show her how to take pics and even snatched her camera from her a few times. I don't know how she ended up with the decent pics she did.  I got great pics, but it kinda of messed up the memory for us. Actually- they state that only medium and large format cameras could be used and you may not ever profit from the pictures you take without paying them ahead of time.
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