Blacking out camera bodies

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by David R Munson, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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    I keep all the white writing on my Nikon either inked out or taped over with black gaff tape. Other photographers I know generally seemed to be divided into two camps - those that do the same, and those that either oppose it or just don't see the point. I do it because I see no reason to attract extra attention with the "Nikon" or anything else in bold white text. Others may disagree, but I stil think people pay less attention to a camera if it's this unnamed black thing rather than some recognizable whizbang "ooh that's pretty" kind of camera. Granted, an F3 with a motor drive is never inconspicuous, but one can still minimize its visual impact.

    How many of you do this? Who among you don't like it or don't see the point? Other thoughts on this practice?
     
  2. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    You know, It had never occurred to me. I hate the yellow CANON on my T-70, and might just tape it over it before my trip.
    My 6x6s, on the other hand, have always been more duct tape than metal (that's an exageration). My current one, a Pentacon Six, has a homebrew waist level finder shade (made out of black FOAMIES and duck tape). It also sports a nifty yellow masking tape filler on it's lens cap, so it will hold tightly to the metal lens hood.
    My old TLR had wires stiches and duck tape on the leather case, and a foamie/duck tape (homebrew) square lens hood.
    So I guess I'm with you on the "tapers" team.
     
  3. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I haven't blacked out any of my cameras. My LF cameras aren't branded like 35mm gear, and my 35mm gear is so old, that most people who would be interested in seeing what I am shooting have something 3x as valuable around their neck.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    When I was in Poland in the 1980s I tried taping over the "Canon" logo on my F-1, but I found I couldn't avoid attracting attention, since it was so unusual to see a modern Japanese SLR in Eastern Europe at that time. Professional photojournalists often had F-1's, because there was authorized Canon service in Warsaw, so if you carried an F-1, you were either thought to be a journalist or an exotic foreigner.

    Then I picked up a big klunky Pentacon 6 used and eventually three lenses, and with this I could easily pass for a native and do street photography without drawing a crowd. I generally shot Agfachrome 100 purchased on the black market (the alternative MF slide film being Orwochrom). Most people probably assumed I was a local student (which I suppose I was).
     
  5. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    A chrome body in bright sunlight really does attract attention. In my youth, my Leicaflex SL chrome body was always taped. Sometimes, when people got close, they seemed more interested in the anomaly of a camera covered in tape they they would have if I'd left it chrome.

    No doubt in my mind, though, if street photography is your thing, you're better off with a dull black body. The best example of this was the Leica M4 through M6 which came in a flat black chrome finish. Very low key and very durable. When the later M6 models were ruined when Leica put a bright red dot (trademark/logo) on the front of the camera. Visit the Leica forum on photo.net to read discussions of putting black tape over the offending red dot.
    Take care,
    Tom
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have no need to black out anything - people always smile when they see me with a Zeiss Ikon folder. Or a 9x12cm plate camera...

    These old fashioned cameras seem a lot less "threatening" than a "modern" SLR, in my experience.
     
  7. garryl

    garryl Member

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    This black out has been going on since the 60's. The one thing I learned
    is that black cameras can't hide. Everytime someone walked into class, everyone went- "OOOOH a black camera" :wink: ! Everytime someone taped their camera, everyone was curious about "what's under the tape". :confused:

    If your really dedicate, you fill with Bondo-sand smooth- repaint. Beside, tape make you camera sticky. :cool:
     
  8. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    If I deprive my digigizmo of oxygen will that make it black out?:tongue:
     
  9. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Papparrazi gear ... one wears a black shirt - very good idea, anyway - less chance of being reflected in glass - and a black camera / strap over one shoulder.
    Least likely to be noticed.
     
  10. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Inconspicuousness is over-rated

    [​IMG]

    (Pic of my buddy Johnny at the Toronto Beaches Easter parade, scammed from Luke Tymowski)

    Persoanally I think black tape over the logo is decorative, rather than the opposite. I've been thing of putting Subaru STi logos on my blank lens caps (already prefer using Nikon caps on my 52mm canon lenses, which occasionally draws stares... but they're better caps!)
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I suppose if I want to be inconspicuous, I can just jump under the darkcloth.
     
  12. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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    Darkcloth or no, I've never managed to be inconspicuous with my 8x10!
     
  13. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    I think Wisner actually sells a bright red darkcloth so that you don't get run over when you set your camera up at roadside.

    Last weekend I was on the Jersey side of the Hudson taking pictures with my 8x10 of the Queen Mary 2 in her berth on the NYC side. A couple of people asked to look through the view camera. Soon an entropenur (sp?) was yelling $2 a look. I wasn't even being cut in, and it was my camera! jeesh...
     
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  15. Seele

    Seele Member

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    Nowadays, the public perception of someone taking a photograph is like having some sort of mechanica contrivance pressed to his/her face. I have found that by using a waist-level viewing camera, no matter how large and inherently conspicuous, does not really draw too much attention.

    There again there is the ancient art of being able to frame and compose by feel; when I was at top form (and that was a long time ago), I was able to hold a camera at arm's length, in any direction, and still correctly frame and compose the picture by feel only: something similar to "Robocop" being to aim his pistol without looking! Doing that with camera hanging around my neck was piece of cake indeed.

    But then, the technique is actually most important. I remember photographing people at the races with an original Contax SLR (not the Yashica-made RTS but the original eye-level 35mm SLR from the late 1940s), a bear to use, and really clunky and noisy, but I took shot after shot of people at close range with a 35mm wide-angle lens without them noticing a thing. Having the camera glued to your eye is more conspicuous than any paint job or tape covering, IMHO.
     
  16. fparnold

    fparnold Member

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    I have to second the 'go antique' system. The C220 attracts attention, but only benign (mostly old-timers saying that they used to have one of those. Last one of those had a Praktika around his neck instead), and if left at waist level, doesn't seem to bother people much. It's also enough quieter than my Nikons that I can glance at the viewfinder, shoot from the hip, and move on without seeming to attract too much attention.

    Alternately, the Spotmatic (chrome) seems to get less notice than the F2 (black). It may be a size issue. An Olympus XA attracts less attention yet, but it looks like a modern P&S.

    Maybe you should just look for the smallest and most primitive camera you can find (Zorki with a collapsible 50mm Leitz?), then learn to act unobtrusive.

    The alternative is go on the offensive. Years ago my boss at the local newspaper showed me a picture of a very large woman charging with her fist in the air. He had stopped to photograph a bar fight that had spilled into the street, and she charged him. John waited until she was about three feet off, let off a 283 at full power in her face, got the picture and ran. It made a fine addition to the Darkroom's "Too much personality for this paper" collection.
     
  17. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Back when I shot weddings having a noticeable Hasselblad was a definite advantage. You get the "woo" factor from the goofballs that always tried to jump in front of you. They kind of gave you the right of way.

    No I've never tried to cover up anything on my cameras and I like them looking as good as they day I bought them.

    I can't think of a reason, personally to do it. How does the fact that you are holding a motordrive or a big zoom lens or a Leica with a peice of tape on it make any difference to anyone. In my experience I always get respect with any camera (room to move around without being bothered) except maybe some silver snapshot camera.


    Michael MCBlane
     
  18. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    If you go to a lot of weddings as a guest it quickly becomes apparent that equipment doesn't distinguish the men from boys. The demeanor of the shooter makes it instantly clear if they are either worthwhile or a hack, and the size of their RZ67 has nothing to do with it.

    How about the Bruce Gilden method? Sweep in fast and hit 'em with the strobe and BAM you're out of there with a tip of the ol' karmic kap.

    • [list:d1c98f3b8d][​IMG]
      April 2004
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  19. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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    Brand names in a consumer society. It's that simple. If some people see Nikon in big white letters across the prism of an SLR, they're automatically drawn to the camera because it's a Nikon. I was at a party two weeks ago and was talking photography with a friend of mine when a guy casually asked what kind of camera I was shooting with. I told him it was a Nikon and suddenly his demeanor changes and he's totally a Nikon fanboy drooling at my taped up camera. Not because it's a big clunky thing with a motor drive, but because it's a Nikon. Same thing happened when I had a Leica.

    With some people, there is a fascination with camera names, as if spending X number of dollars on a camera automatically makes you a great photographer. If nothing else, taping a camera helps dispense with that nonsense.
     
  20. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    These days, if someone comes up and wants to talk photography, I just mention that I'm shooting film. They say "Oh" and politely back away. No megapixels, no software, nothing to talk about.
     
  21. gma

    gma Member

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    The first time I ever saw black tape over a camera name was in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, "Rear Window". Jimmy Stewart spied on his neighbors using an Exakta with a telephoto lens. In the 1950's movie makers did not want to give free advertising to anyone and every product name was blacked out or otherwise obscured. Now almost every movie is packed with product logos in every scene in which they can possibly include them and they charge the manufacturers to show the logos.
     
  22. Seele

    Seele Member

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    GMA,

    I think it comes down to whether the supplier of the product seen in the movie/television show actually supplied or paid for the product's appearance. For instance, in "CSI" all the cameras had their brand names taped over.

    Funny that in an earlier season of "Miracles" IIRC, the opening credit features a picture of a Pentacon Six (or Praktisix) without any disguise.
     
  23. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Well, I just put some black tape on my 8x10 monorail, makes it look inconspicuous as hell. Stand by for a bunch of street photography postings using this setup.

    Actually, some of the anodization (SP?) was being rubbed off the standard, based on the way I carry equipment in a bag, and I'm trying to protect the standard. However I immediately thought of this thread and had to post... I've actually black taped a camera after all these years!
     
  24. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    lol!

    i read this and pictured someone dressed up much like the Hamburgler from McDonalds with an 8x10 on a tripod yelling "GOTCHA!" as he took pictures. The people jump in suprise as they didn't even realize he was there... i should make a short film of this, haha!
     
  25. Deniz

    Deniz Member

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    i think i am pretty slick when i am using my F5 - 70-200mm/2.8 + sb-25..

    same applies to my 8x10 camera too..also 8x10 is a wood field so i blend in with the nature anyways....
     
  26. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    You can also be inconspicuous indirectly, e.g.:
    [​IMG]
    or
    [​IMG]
    which were made using a wireless remote flash controller. My lovely assistant Gary stood off to one side, while my camera had the controller on the hotshoe. People who noticed anyone usually noticed him, since he was the one emitting bright lights.