Black VS. Chrome camera bodies.

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Mike Kennedy, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. Mike Kennedy

    Mike Kennedy Member

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    Is there a reason, besides esthetics, for the difference in finishes?
    I thought that maybe a black clad camera could be a little more unobstrusive in situations where being a photographer could be hazardous to your health. As a war photojournalist for example. Just wondering.

    Mike
     
  2. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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  3. Surly

    Surly Member

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    A silver finish will reflect heat and keep camera internals and film cooler in hot conditions. The "silver" finish I believe is a hard chrome and also wears better. The black finish is not as durable, typically. As a result, the black will wear and show brassing more rapidly than a silver finished camera. Ironically, you pay more for the black camera but the resale will go down faster if it shows brassing. I am speaking from my experience of using older Nikon SLR's. There may be many exceptions to this.
    I have two Nikkormat's and I use the black one more but the siver one is broken :smile:
    They are of the same general age and the silver one looks better because of the brassing. Of course brassing has nothing to do with image quality.
     
  4. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Theoretically, the bright chrome, especially when reflecting light, draws attention to the camera and therefore the photographer. Not what you want when taking candids. What Surley says about initial and resale prices is true.
     
  5. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    I will sometimes tape one up with some of that camoflage gun and bow tape if I'm trying to sneak up and photograph some woodland critter. Not at any other time, though.

    Bruce
     
  6. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    Speaking from the early days, there was a reason why professional cameras were black and consumer cameras were silver. The pro cameras were brass bodies. This didn't loook good, so they were painted. Black was the obvious choice. The consumer cameras were left silver because that's the color brushed aluminum was and it looked good. The original pro brass cameras were heavier duty and could take much more of a beating than the thinner and softer aluminum versions.

    Later, when black caught on and everyone wanted a "pro" camera, they painted the aluminum bodies too and it all became meaningless...

    Silver cameras will not 'brass' as there no brass underneath the silver color.... Excluding the few that were plated brass...
     
  7. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    Not sure when the "early days" ended, but my black Nikon FM2 has slight brassing, and does in fact show brass underneath (or at least the color of brass). I wouldn't consider the FM2 "consumer grade", but it wasn't their top of the line pro camera either.

    My Minolta XE7 (earlier than the FM2) also showed brass underneath.

    I've no doubt that some of the pre-plastic consumer cameras are painted aluminum, but I wonder where the change is made.
     
  8. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    My chrome(?) Canon AE-1 Program has some brassing on it.
     
  9. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I believe there were many cameras made with chrome on brass. The XE-7 was chrome on brass, and shared many parts with the Leica R-3. IIRC, all of Canon AE-1 production was polycarbonate on the top, part of what made it one of the most feature-rich cameras at a great price, and a runaway best seller. My father-in-law was rough on his Minolta X-700, which was black over polycarbonate, but there is also a shiny brass-colored layer under the black finish and on top of the white polycarbonate top casting. Bottom plates on many of the cameras with polycarbonate tops may be metal to keep them thin and because they seat battery compartments and tripod sockets, so any finish rubbed off there may appear to be a brass color.

    Lee
     
  10. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    It all depends. I heard back in the early (to mid) 90's, little silvery-looking Sony Hi8 Handycam was a way to make video documentaries in Sarajevo. Because the snipers would be pointing their rifles at anyone with a tool that looked weapons. But even with that little video camera, if you looked through the viewfinders in an open field, you would get shot from distance.

    Also, lately I heard when you travel to certain countries where secret police are tough, the last thing you want to do is to present yourself as someone who's eager to take pictures. Based on your possession of tools and documents, they could suspect you as a spy. I don't know for sure since I'm not a pro in that field.

    I'm not trying to scare you, but the bottom line seems to be that you don't want to carry around too many high-tech gadgets. And I regret that I got rid of my old beatup Nikon FM that I was using back in college.
     
  11. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    What has already been said is very true. Except in the case of Leica. The Leica's with the black bodies and black lenses have better bokeh than the silver ones.
     
  12. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    Thats because the black lenses absorb the solar rays and facilitate the production of "glow" while the silver ones reflect this solar energy thus producing substandard "glow."
     
  13. Surly

    Surly Member

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    Absorb solar rays and reflect solar rays? You're kidding right? How can the bokeh be effected by anything other than internal components? You guys are taking the piss arent you?
     
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  15. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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  16. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    When Contax reintroduced the S2, they also offered the S2b which had a Black body. I said "Forget it! If I have to pay a sick price for a Titanium camera, I'll be d@mned if I am going to get it covered up with paint".
     
  17. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    In 35mm, I use both. The black body had an advantage over the chrome body in two situations:

    1. When attempting to shoot reluctant subjects inconspicuously, the black body draws less attention than the shiny chrome body.

    2. When shooting small subjects on or under glass, the reflection of the black body in the glass is less than that of the chrome body.

    On one hand, I personally prefer the appearance of the black body; on the other hand, I prefer the way the chrome body withstands everyday wear and tear.
     
  18. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    Yes, I was being sarcastic. My apologies
     
  19. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    I still think I get better gas milage in my car when I am carrying black finished cameras, Nikon in my case. I would trade Bokeh any time for better gas milage! Charlie.............
     
  20. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Of course I was joking! Any chance I get to poke a stick at the bokeh boys I will ha ha. But I must say plopping a heavy metal black body Nikon on the bar counter worked wonders in my younger days.
     
  21. Seele

    Seele Member

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    When sensitive materials became fast enough to enable hand-held exposures, hand cameras became the fashion and to make them less obvious, American makers started to have them covered in black leather, with metal parts finished in black. Remnants of this approach can still be seen nowadays with cameras partially covered in leather.

    Anyway, this tradition carried on when smaller format cameras became viable: even during the earlier days of 35mm photography, both early Leica and Contax cameras were finished likewise, with metal parts finished in black.

    It was when nickel plating became economical enough that larger camera parts started to be bright finished, and later on, when chrome plating became affordable as an industrial process, the use of this harder-wearing finish became wide-spread: camera then acquired the connoctation of "male jewellery".

    Sure enough, with modern manufacturing techniques and materials, black cameras are actually cheaper to produce: the plastics materials can be of solid black colour so that no extra finishing would be required to make a black-bodied camera. In that sense, a "chrome-finish" camera would cost more to make, and of course, many plastics-bodied cameras with applied chrome finish can look pretty tatty after a while as the surface coating gets rubbed off.

    For me, black cameras remain a more viable option for my style of 35mm photographic work for being less conspicuous.
     
  22. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I personally prefer chrome to black bodies. Not only does chrome wear better than black paint, chrome reflects heat along with light. I never understood Canon's philosophy of painting their L-series telephotos a light grey to reflect heat and then only offering their top cameras in black. Ever been out in the sun for a couple of hours with your Canon EOS and L-series telephoto on a tripod? The lens will be relatively cool while the camera will burn you to the touch.

    These days, black camera bodies dominate. So does plastic. Taking an inventory of all my cameras, I only have one that's real chrome--a Leica M6. The EOS Rebel doesn't count, being fake-chrome plastic.
     
  23. matchat

    matchat Member

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    From what I hear the black cameras were black so as to minimise any reflections from the flash bouncing off the camera & reflecting in the subjects eyes. Also black was less obtrusive in use as it didn't shine as much. Ironically the black bodiesmade of brass are usually not as strong as the chromed bodies (they dent more easily). I believe that black cameras took off because Cartier Bresson used to use black tape on his Leica's.
     
  24. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    It's common knowledge that black bodies produce sharper images with better Bokeh.

    Kiron Kid
     
  25. Surly

    Surly Member

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    I'm so glad the bokeh thing was a joke. "Bokeh boys" HA that's hilarious.
    Please, dont ever apologize for being sarcastic! Come on now, my name is Surly and my avatar is a black and white painting! I live for sarcasm.
     
  26. Eric Mac

    Eric Mac Member

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    Here is my take on the situation.

    Black= black and white

    Chrome= slides

    Eric