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I recently posted a question that was put on hold as off-topic. I understand that questions about videography are off-topic here on Photo.SE (as discussed here), and this question is by no means a re-open request or let alone a rant!

I have a question regarding the on-topic section of the help center.

It says:

If you have a question about...

[...]

  • using photographic equipment

[...]

...then you're in the right place to ask your question!

One comment on my question stated:

The SX230 HS may be photography equipment, but as soon as you start using it for video it becomes video equipment, and not photo equipment [...]

In my opinion the Canon SX230 HS is photography eqipment. Its main purpose is to take photos, while I can take videos, too. Following that interpretion of the guideline mentioned above a question like "How can I take still images with a Sony HDR-CX190 camcorder" would be on-topic, because the camcorder then no longer is video equipment, but photo equipment?

I think that for my question I am more likely to find help here, rather than on avp.SE, while for the question about the camcorder I will more likely find help on avp.SE than here.

Thus my question is: Is this interpretion of the help center's on-topic section intended? Because if that is the case I propose to extend the info:

  • using photography equipment unless used for videography
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    I can say with authority that it would have been answered on AVP. I'm the #1 video guy over there and a big time Canon fan. I didn't know the answer off the top of my head, but I would have done a quick check and found the answer for you. – AJ Henderson Jul 29 '13 at 19:10
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    And off to avp it has gone... – Rowland Shaw Jul 29 '13 at 19:22
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    I'm not in favor of the proposed change. It's not just "using photography equipment unless used for videography". Using photographic equipment for propping doors open, for pounding nails, or as fish bait are all also off-topic. – Please Read My Profile Jul 30 '13 at 17:49
  • If the only qualification was what is photography equipment, the Nokia 1020 would start to pop up here with questions about how to use it's video features. It is apparently first and foremost a camera(according to marketing speak), but I would still consider anything about using the video features of it off topic here. – dpollitt Jul 30 '13 at 23:00
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The question about video questions asked on Photography StackExchange has always been a bit of a hazy subject. In one sense, as AJ stated, few devices these days are dedicated to a single task, which puts us all in a bit of a conundrum right off the bat. It is difficult for us to completely make anything and everything video related entirely off topic because it often involves stills photography.

As such, despite what our FAQ and help pages state, it is better to approach the problem of where to ask a question from the angle of: "Who is best able to support me and offer an answer, and where do those people hang out on the StackExchange Network?"

The ultimate goal for someone asking a question is to get an answer. For the most part, the members here who are most frequently able to offer up an answer are far more well versed in stills photography than video (in any context), and that extends to video taken with photographic equipment. For your own sake, it is best to let your question move through StackExchange to the place where it can best be answered. If someone votes to close with the goal of moving your question to another site, don't take it as commentary on the quality or validity of your question...just take it as other members trying to help you find the best place to get an answer to your question.

It should be noted that there are times when a question will fall right on the line between on and off topic. I think yours might qualify. Your question was more about how to use the equipment than it was really about video. I think that kind of question can be answered at either PhotoSE or AVPSE, and if someone has the answer, they should...regardless of which site it is posted on first. That does not mean that is actually what will happen...sometimes the person or people with the answer aren't logged onto the site by the time a question gets enough votes to be migrated. Sometimes you'll get an answer, and you'll accept it and it will get up votes, and a question will still ultimately be migrated. There may even be times when a question bounces around sites a little before it finds its final home.

That is all just part of how StackExchange works, and the ultimate end goal is to help you get your answers, while keeping things as organized as possible.

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  • +1 on the answers even for off topic questions and not fretting about it bouncing around a bit. I didn't answer in this particular case since it would require research on my part, but I'll generally answer and vote close for off-topic questions I know the answer to with the hope that it will be migrated to the correct site with answer in tow. – AJ Henderson Jul 30 '13 at 15:11
  • @AJ: I'm certainly not commentating on your lack of answering, bud! :P No worries there. – jrista Jul 30 '13 at 22:06
  • I know, I was just commenting on the reasoning behind someone who typically does answer even when off topic and reinforcing your point that in general we want to answer questions if we know the answer but also want to make sure information is well organized for others to find it in the future. – AJ Henderson Jul 30 '13 at 22:45
  • The question "Where on SE are people that are able to help me most likely?" was the reason I asked here on photo.SE. And that is also a reason why I asked this question - as the FAQ should reflect this fact. As they obviously do this already - and FAQ do not necessary need to cover every edge case, I will mark your question as answer - although other answers on this question offer valuable opinions as well. – Spontifixus Jul 31 '13 at 9:19
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    @Spontifixus: It is ok that you asked it here. We understand that not everyone knows the best place to get an answer. That is exactly why it is possible for us to migrate questions among sites, in order to help you get the best answer. I do think the question could have stayed here...it really fits at either AVP or here. But in the case where a question was definitely off topic and thoroughly video related, it WILL get migrated. That is not something you should get upset about...or take as commentary on the validity of your question. It is just the machine churning... – jrista Jul 31 '13 at 16:46
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Yes, if you are using a video camera to take photos, it would be on topic. The reason for this is because conceptually, there is a fundamental difference between the needs of photography and video. They are related, but still different enough to merit separation.

That said, we have very few "pure" devices these days, so it is hard to define the type of device by anything other than it's use case. A smartphone, for example, could be considered photographic equipment since, in many cases, they have a camera that rivals the quality and capability of many point and shoots. This however, does not make it on topic to ask how to check your e-mail on your phone. Modern cameras, both point and shoot and DSLR, are similarly hybrid devices capable of use as either video or still cameras.

If AVP didn't exist, then I would be more inclined to agree that video related questions for still cameras should be allowed here, but since there is a site dedicated to audio/visual production, it is a much better fit there as it really is not photography related.

It's also worth noting that even professional video often uses DSLRs now, so your question is very likely to get answers on AVP and at least one or two of us on Photography also are contributors over on AVP.

As for the clarification, I'm not 100% convinced that it is a necessary change. I think that withing the field at least, the distinction between a camera being used for photographic purposes and a camera being used for video purposes are distinct use cases. I don't know any videographer that shoots on DSLR that would say they think what they are doing is related to photography and they would consider their rig a video rig, even though the camera is still perfectly capable of being used as a photography rig with a different (or maybe even the same) configuration.

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  • See my comment on jrista's answer. I also think now that the FAQ are OK as they are, for not every edge case needs to be covered by the FAQ. – Spontifixus Jul 31 '13 at 9:21
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I'd personally define "photographic equipment" as "equipment being used to take a photograph", as opposed to "equipment that can also take still photographs". So, I wouldn't ask about the videography aspects of my camera on photography.stackexchange, but instead on avp.stackexchange.

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