Camera’s Live View Might Be To Blame in New Zealand Train Death


A New Zealand railroad buff killed by a train Saturday may have been misled by his camera’s LCD screen into thinking the train was a safe distance away.

According to the New Zealand Herald, 50-year-old Gregory Duncraft was photographing an approaching passenger train last week when he failed to move out of the way in time, despite two long warning blasts by the train’s engineer. The train was traveling at about 28 mph when it hit Duncraft, who passed away shortly after from head and leg injuries.


Witnesses said Duncraft was busy looking at the screen on his camera, not the train itself, when the incident happened. And fellow photographer and friend Stewart Nimmo told the Herald that he suspected the camera’s live view gave Duncraft the perception that the train was further up the track.

Railway officials said Duncraft had to trespass on railroad property to get so close to the tracks, an unfortunately common occurrence when rail buffs gather.

“I’m surprised that it has not happened before,” an engineer told The Herald. “We have guys with cameras jumping out in front of us all the time, it’s crazy. They don’t seem to realize that we can’t stop these things on a dime. I have had too many close shaves to count.”

(via The New Zealand Herald)

Image credits: Working photographer by dicktay2000, New Zealand Road Sign by New Zealand Transport Agency

  • TraineeInTraining

    So, he didnt look up from his camera even when the train blew its horn? Those horns arent really quiet eh.

    Perhaps LCD screens on the back of cameras should tote the “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”

  • 54435

    only one to blame .. and im sorry to say that.. is the darwin award contender….

  • kassim

    If he was using wide angle lens, that train would have appeared further away than usual. Tragic accident.

  • Fuzztographer

    More accurately: objects looking at the mirror are dumber than they appear.

  • 3ric15

    My thoughts exactly.

  • gochugogi

    Wish he used a telephoto lens that day.

  • Renato Murakami

    1st test on that 8mm fisheye lens huh? Quite unfortunate

  • Antonio Carrasco

    Perhaps LCD screens on the back of cameras should tote the “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”

    NO, if you are too dumb to get out of the way of the moving train, a disclaimer will not stop your inevitable demise.

  • Rob S

    Sorry but this is NOT an accident. An accident is a rock falling from 500 meters up a hill and hitting your car. An accident is tripping, hitting your head and falling into water.

    This is the foreseeable result of choices. Choosing to be on a rail road track. Choosing to stay on that track when a train is coming. Choosing to ignore multiple warnings.

    In the entire history of rail roads there has NEVER been a single person hit by a train who was not on the tracks. It cant swerve. If you are not on the track – or very very close to it – you are 100% guaranteed to NOT be hit by a train. Unless of course there is an ACCIDENT – like a train suddenly coming derailed at the exact spot where it can hit you. That is an accident. Being hit by a train while you are on the tracks is expected.

  • Uncle Wig

    David Becker, the camera’s live view was in no way to blame for this death. The railroad buff himself is solely to blame. He wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings, and he died. I don’t know your background, but your headline is really terrible journalism, even by Internet standards.

  • harumph

    Not only that, but as others have noted, it was more accurately the lens that was the cause of the misperception. Live view mode has nothing to do with it really. The results surely would have been the same had he been looking through the viewfinder. The headline and the article place an odd emphasis on “live view,” as if the photographer’s use of live view mode is somehow to blame.

  • jrconner

    A dead brain, not live view, was the problem.

  • Spoken Word™

    Darwinism? No, STUPIDITY!

  • A_Lwin

    I do hope this won’t cause some other idiots to file a lawsuit against camera manufacturers who implement live-view in their cameras.

    First rule of any photographer should always be “Safety First!”

  • Pryere Coleman

    Did the camera/SD card survive the trauma?

  • DGM

    The Live View did have nothing to do with it, or do you think you get a
    different perspective by using the viewfinder??
    It does not matter if it was technically an accident or not. The result is that a person died just because he was trying to get a nice shot, and misjudged the risk. I feel sorry for his family.

  • Alexander Petricca

    I don’t think the camera was to blame, more the fool he stands in front of an approaching train that offers TWO separate warnings.

  • Zos Xavius

    So….did he get the shot?

  • jch9596

    But the dumb bloke should not have been that close to the railroad tracks to begin with. Live view, fish eye? Only one thing responsible for this man’s death — the man himself!

  • peaceetc

    I’m sorry this happened, and I feel for his family, but a few things can’t be argued: he was trespassing, he was on the tracks where he shouldn’t have been, and he was clearly not paying attention to his surroundings. Live view had nothing to do with it, expect to serve as the distraction. The man made some very bad decisions, and this should serve as a lesson to us all. Blaming live view is taking away from the true lesson, and is more than little ridiculous.

  • Fran

    First thing I learned in drivers Ed… At age 16, TRAIN MOVE FASTER THEN THEY APPEAR. “Never race a train, you will lose!” Really, they do. This guys only fault.

  • Rabi Abonour

    Yeah. While, say, looking at the scene through a wide lens would exacerbate things, it is simply difficult to judge the speed and distance of an oncoming train. People need to learn to err on the side of caution so tragedies like this don’t happen.

  • Jargis

    As tragic as this is, I feel like PP could afford to be a little more neutral once in a while, especially in its headlines. It’s people who are distracted by their shiny screens. This headline makes the article seem like a “Guns kill people” argument.

  • Krijsh

    Actually people have been killed by derailed trains and those that crashed through the end of tracks

  • Adam Correia

    If this was the U.S., his family would be suing the camera manufacturer for making the train look further than it appeared. I am truly sorry for the loss his family and friends must feel, but seriously? You couldn’t look up? Tough luck.

  • Krijsh

    Using the live view would actually be better than the view finder

  • TN

    i feel bad for his family, but this is clearly a bad decision on the photographers part, regardless of the camera, lens, live view, or anything anyone might suggest. he made the decision to get on those tracks, and take the picture.

  • kimberly537

    my mother recently bought a nice 6 month old MINI Cooper Clubman by working parttime online. my link w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • tyrohne

    That’s what your mother TOLD you she was doing. It’s better than describing the sailors’ grooming habits down under the docks…

  • ThomasBisset

    Read the last bit of his post again Krijsh…

  • DougU

    I agree. With Live view you can usually see more of what is happening around the camera compared to the viewfinder. This has more to do with focal length. A wide angle would have made it appear further in the distance.

  • harumph

    Again, it’s interesting to see how vicious the comments on PP’s Facebook page are, compared to here, where people are largely posting anonymously. What is it about PP’s Facebook page that has inspired the worst in people?

  • Wodan74

    O dear, don’t give them that idea… we already have these silly ‘electric shock’ warnings for double AA batteries operated stuff… what’s next? :-)

  • kendon

    nice headline, petapixel. not.

  • Krijsh

    Sorry, I was stuck on the earlier part that said “NEVER” and didn’t pay enough attention to the later statement that disqualified the previous.

  • Richard Rabinowitz

    A REAL photographer would often have a sense of what he or she is taking a picture of without having to look at the screen. The screen is mainly there to see if the pic comes out…

  • Richard Rabinowitz

    Types of people who get hit by trains:

    a) Anna Karenina and her ilk. They deliberately go onto the tracks to use a conveniently available and on-duty train as a suicide weapon.
    b) Idiots who aren’t paying attention.
    c) Idiots who aren’t paying attention.
    d) Idiots who aren’t paying attention.
    e) People who get crowded and shoved onto the tracks.
    f) Idiots who drop something onto the tracks and feel the urgent need to retrieve it.
    g) Idiots who cross tracks, or walk down them, thinking nothing’s going to come down those tracks.