Loud Cameras Breaking the Mood... and the Silence?

Discussion in 'Journalism and Documentary' started by dugrant153, Jul 4, 2014.

  1. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

    Messages:
    380
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Location:
    Coquitlam, B
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hey all,

    I've been contemplating bringing a larger medium format camera to some of my street/documentary and wedding work. Namely, it's a Pentax 645.
    Has anyone had experiences where the loud shutter or motor sound "broke" the mood of the scene? (i.e. draw attention to yourself, etc.)

    Sound is only one factor in taking a documentary photograph but in a quiet room... it's almost the ONLY factor I think?
     
  2. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,771
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just an unqualified opinion as an observer... shutter sounds used to be the norm at weddings. Plus, there are always a few people who don't turn off the shutter sound on their cell phones, as well as the automatic flashes always going off; I don't think your camera's sound would stand out that much. When you are the one making the sounds, it does make you self-conscious, but pay attention the next time you are in a similar situation - someone always coughs, bangs their leg on something, etc. I think it may just blend in with the other sounds of silence.
    I've not been around a Pentax 645, but have been told they are a bit loud.

    The motor drive may be more distracting, being more than a punctuating sound.
     
  3. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

    Messages:
    2,015
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2013
    Location:
    rAdelaide
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Unfortunately, as much as I've been annoyed at people taking camera-phone photos too, it's not that they don't (know how to) turn it off. There's something with more recent phones that you physically *can't*, full stop. The presumption is that it's better for people in public to know when someone's taking a photo, like of other peoples' kids or something (compare that with the latest dslrs specifically featuring 'silent shutter' live-view modes).
    But yeah, they could just *not* take the photo, then it'd be silent.

    Anyway, my Mamiya 645AF has a rather loud mirror, shutter, and motor wind-on, my EOS 3 is a tiny bit quiter but not by much, even my Kiev 60 gives quite the 'thunk' of the mirror, so I just avoid bringing them to places where I'm trying to be quiet. Not sure how the Pentax 645 compares to the Mamiya though.

    My Bessa R3A is my camera-of-choice for low-light and indoor-performances these days, small, discrete, quiet, and cheap f/1.4 lenses are of great quality, but I know you said you wanted MF. Of course, you can use you P645 if you want, but I'd consider a leaf-shuttered rangefinder if you really really want to remain quiet.

    If it's a wedding, people expect everyone to take photos these days, so I see no problem there, but if you're trying to remain discrete on the street, I'd consider something else.
     
  4. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,947
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I get annoyed by that all the time.

    For instance at a poetry reading where during the reading a news photographer shows up, walking around amidst the audience and around the poet, taking about 250 photographs, all in firing bursts. (Here I consider that gun analogy applicable.)

    I take the view that there are occasions were a photographer has to bee un-visible and un-hearable as much as possible.


    The weird thing though is that seemingly I'm the only one irritated by that. Only once someone from the audience protested, with the speaker appeasing, indicating that the photographer was hired by him to cover that lecture.

    The latter is another problem: that mostly the orginizers are behind that photography or at least utmost pleased by the press showing up.
     
  5. markaudacity

    markaudacity Member

    Messages:
    99
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2013
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Wedding work I would think will be very tolerant of shutter noise, unless it's during the actual ceremony. People expect cameras at weddings, and the Pentax 645 isn't going to be shooting ten-shot 8FPS bursts.
     
  6. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,771
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The example of the poetry reading reminded me of two things:
    1 - If the performer(s) is made aware (or asked), that can help them. If the performer(s) asked you to be there, that is all that matters.
    2 - Many performers are used to distractions, and a camera may actually be less annoying than other sounds at the venue.
    The audience, however, may not be used to these things.

    An idea that might help you gauge the concept would be to visit a local council meeting. Don't pay attention to the meeting, pay attention to the "audience." Do the same at a local church service - even if you are not religious. Simply being there won't bother anyone so long as you are respectful (and they likely will not know so long as you act like they do). Maybe find a coffee shop that sponsors poetry readings and listen there as well.

    Speaking of church, perhaps I'm a bit irreverent, but at my father's funeral service, I was commenting to my mom how ugly they painted the inside of the church since I was last there. I whispered, so only my mom knew what I was saying, but people could tell I was whispering. Meanwhile, I kept hearing coughs, bumping kneelers, coat and purse zippers, whispers, and hushed voices telling very young children to be quiet. Nothing really out of the ordinary for that venue. If I heard a camera, I might think it odd, but it would not have been any more distracting.
    When you get a group of people together for anything, various "noises" are common.

    Dull thuds and whisper-level sounds are usually not so distracting. Loud bangs or something just below normal talking voices are. I'd rate a "loud" shutter and manual winding as a dull thud, and a motor drive (at least the ones I've heard) as just below talking level.
     
  7. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,714
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    This is probably not the case with present day models, but I use to think that a Bronika sounded like a bomb going off.
     
  8. Vilk

    Vilk Member

    Messages:
    442
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    hegeso.com
    Shooter:
    35mm
    yes, there are these obvious moments when you will be more audible than at other times, but having shot a fair range of events and working in the street almost daily for a couple of decades, i think the only person who would ever care is me... and i think of the problem only when i come across a thread like this. to be sure, "my kind of pictures" does not require military-grade stealth. with this in mind, my "quiet" leicas have never brought me a single picture my "loud" motorized F2s would not have given me just as well (which allowed me to realize some cash, when i eventually sold the leicas and kept the F2s)

    people shoot street and events with all kinds of junk--i say get what you fancy and take it from there

    :cool:
     
  9. GRHazelton

    GRHazelton Subscriber

    Messages:
    732
    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Jonesboro, G
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a Pentax 645n and its pretty loud. For shooting during the ceremony, when that is allowed, I'd use my YashicaMat. Virtually silent, and a nice big negative. Gotta be fairly close, however.
     
  10. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

    Messages:
    1,726
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Location:
    Elko, Nevada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The Pentax 645 raison d'etre is photographing weddings and other events like this. I seriously doubt that you will cause a problem. My actual experience is that when I am taking pictures the sound seems terribly loud but when my wife is using the camera and I am a few feet away I really don't notice the shutter and film advance noises.

    Film advance at the end of the roll is another story altogether, but at least it is relatively brief. People are still accustomed to the sound of the shutter but the noise of film rewind (advance in this case) is not common any longer. If I am shooting some event where that will be a problem I usually step quickly into another room, fire the last shot, and then reload (the reload sound is similar.) If I can't I just kneel down so I am out of sight.

    I prefer my 645 for weddings or other events because it is far quicker to reload and uses interchangeable lenses, but a TLR is probably a good alternative, particularly for those very quiet moments during the ceremony.
     
  11. jscott

    jscott Member

    Messages:
    95
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Location:
    PNW
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    We need to be careful… I was photographing a leading Irish musician performing solo, using my Rolleiflex 2.8C. I was in the front row in a small room. I thought that it had a quiet shutter, but after I took a shot the musician looked at me quite annoyed and whispered "please, not during an air" (meaning a slow, quiet tune). It might have been OK during a reel or a polka...
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,824
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I used to shoot weddings with a Mamiya C330. In the church, the minister/priest would always ask me to be as quiet as possible (when any photos were permitted) and would usually request that the guests do not take photos at all during the ceremony.

    How things have changed.

    Actually, I have a very clear memory of a "noise" problem. I was photographing a panel discussion in the old Arts Club theatre in Vancouver. The panel was made up of some of the best known and important Quebec playwrights in Canadian theatre history. The audience was full of dedicated scholars and theatergoers who were hanging on every word.

    The old Arts Club had a wood floor centre aisle that was raked - it rose steadily from the stage area to the back row of the theatre.

    It was absolutely amazing - a plastic Olympus lens cap made the most outrageous racket falling to the aisle at the back of the theatre and rolling on its edge all the way to the front!
     
  13. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

    Messages:
    1,726
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Location:
    Elko, Nevada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To be completely honest, though many leaf shutters are quite quiet, I never felt that the Rollei shutters were as quiet as some of my older folders were.

    But I think if I had to have a quiet shutter now days I would pick the Fuji GF670. Half the time I can't even tell the camera took the picture...and I am the one who pressed the shutter button.
     
  14. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

    Messages:
    380
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Location:
    Coquitlam, B
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks for the insight. I think if it comes to the ceremony or a place where it's absolute silence or very very low level of noise, the 645 may come off as pretty (relatively) loud. I think when things are going on, it's not a big deal. But when the focal point is on one thing and the expectation is silence... ah, I don't know. I guess I'm just mindful of the noise so expect it of others also. I remember someone firing off with a pro Canon or Nikon digital and the mirror slap echoed throughout the hall. It was pretty loud and noticeable as she took a few frames at once.
     
  15. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

    Messages:
    729
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The film advance / shutter cocking noise is most of the time much louder than the shutter itself not mentioning the mirror slap!
     
  16. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,584
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is nothing as solid and resounding as the k-thunk of a Hasselblad or good solid SLR. A much better sound than the quiet woosh of a RF Leica!
     
  17. snapguy

    snapguy Member

    Messages:
    1,297
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2014
    Location:
    California d
    Shooter:
    35mm
    brain

    It is not necessary to turn off your brain just because you are pointing a camera. A good photographer thinks about other people and makes sure he is not over-annoying the heck out of them. Unless Elvis is in the building, of course and then you run over folks to get "the" shot.
     
  18. analoguey

    analoguey Member

    Messages:
    1,088
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Location:
    Bangalore, I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Everyone has a smartphone. And everyone wants a picture with their smartphone - at least thats what I have observed at weddings here - and that means there are usually at least 8 cameras focused on the couple, ppl jostling to take pic, then commenting that their camera is awesome..
     
  19. GRHazelton

    GRHazelton Subscriber

    Messages:
    732
    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Jonesboro, G
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Gaak! Years ago my best ever friend and I shot weddings, first with 35mm then a 645 Mamiya. At that time there weren't cell phones, and anyone using a SLR was probably pretty proficient and wouldn't mess up our shots. I don't care to shoot weddings professionally today, although I have all the equipment to do it. You have to satisfy the bride, and her mother, and just maybe the groom. Difficult if not impossible to reshoot. Too much stress for an Old Fart like me.

    When I have shot candids for friends' weddings, I introduce myself to the pro, if there is one, and try to work with him/her, certainly not against him/her, like some of those with PS and cell phones seem to be doing. "Professional courtesy," as it were.
     
  20. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

    Messages:
    380
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Location:
    Coquitlam, B
    Shooter:
    35mm
    OK, so I had the opportunity to bring the Pentax 645 to my friend's wedding (as a guest). The cameras these days tend to be really quiet and even the cellphone shutters are relatively quiet.
    I shot my own photographs and, as I do weddings myself, made efforts to NOT bump into and take over any of the main photographer's shots.

    That being said, the Pentax 645 is relatively LOUD. It could be that those closest to me could hear it go off really loudly, but I suspect the same would hold true if I was up front and the bride and groom were praying and I fired a frame. I fear that the ringing throughout the church hall would stop the entire church service... Just kidding :smile:

    In all honesty, the Pentax 645 is a loud camera in terms of the MOTOR WIND, which is not something heard these days but the shutter is pretty dampened. I think in the most silent of moments, I'd have to find a way to muffle it. Once the music gets going people start chatting, it begins to blend in with the noise. Now time to figure out how to dampen it.
     
  21. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,202
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have a P645N if I were in your position and wanted a picture during the ceremony where the guests are silent all I can think of is say a 200mm lens and being far enough away from the couple for the noise to only disturb me.

    If you do figure out how to dampen it then be sure to let us( or is that "we") P645 or P645N users know what you did

    Thanks

    pentaxuser