What's silent got to do with it???

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Steve Mack, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. Steve Mack

    Steve Mack Member

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    Please excuse my ignorance, but I am curious why the (relative) silence of the shutter is an important consideration when buying a rangefinder camera (or any other camera, for that matter)? If it is reliable, and the glass is excellent, and it handles well for you, and you think it's snazzy, and you just plain like it and it's your go-for camera when you go out, what big difference does the shutter volume make? If you want to hear a LOUD shutter, try out a Mamiya 645 Pro with motor wind...

    Just curious.

    Please pardon me while I don my Nomex fireproof suit...:tongue:

    With best regards to all.

    Stephen S. Mack
     
  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I do not know. It beats the "shirt" out of me.

    Steve
     
  3. memorris

    memorris Member

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    For me, I use the rangefinder in situations where a loud shutter would cause distractions. Meetings are a good example of this type of location.If I am shooting crowds on the street, a loud shutter can be a problem. So it really boins down to what and where you are shooting. For me it is a consideration.
     
  4. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    It hails from the days back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

    In the olden days, photographers used large cameras, and taking pictures was a highly visible enterprise.
    People like Erich Salomon started using small cameras (he famously used the Ermanox) and concealed it and what they were doing with it, thus inventing a new branch of photography: candid reportage.
    Cameras needed to be silent too for that.

    And the cameras also needed fast lenses. So they wouldn't need a quantity of magnesium powder exploding with a loud bang and a cloud of smoke.
    A barely audible click alone is much better, is it not? :wink:

    There also are reflex cameras that are not much louder, if louder at all (Olympus OM, for instance) than rangefinders
    The silent bit however somehow stuck to Leicas in particular. Became part of the Leica Lore. And with Leicas being the Mother of all rangefinders, to all other rangefinders as well.

    And of course noone can deny that rangefinders indeed are silent. But whether it matters much?
    If you want to minimize the risk of getting caught taking pictures where you are supposed not to, perhaps. :wink:
     
  5. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

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    If a situation calls for silence, then no amount of noise is too little. What you thought was barely noticeable can quickly become like firecrackers.

    More often than the "sneak photography" situation is events to be photographed that you just don't want to disturb with extra noise. Back in April, I was at an avante gard theater performance where the performers had actually requested I shoot pictures. The show in question included music, spoken word and periods of dramatic silence. All I had was an SLR, and I shot with it, but I'd have been a lot less inhibited with a quieter camera. It wasn't a problem while there was music being played, but during silence my mirror slap and shutter snap would've echoed far in that little auditorium. I missed a terrific shot because I simply couldn't bring myself to generate that obnoxious noise during a silence when a rather daring performer was showing a great deal of skin. It felt uncouth, even with performer sanction.

    That's just a sample from my amateur life. There's even more stringent situations like live film sets where sound is being recorded. If a noise is audible, then it's too loud. A plain Leica would likely not pass muster. Expensive and burly special soundproof enclosures are made for cameras so they can be used in situations like that.

    If your photography never brings you into situations where how quiet your camera is matters, then I say enjoy yourselves. It's great to not have to think about this. But please, don't decide that because it doesn't matter to you that it can't possibly have valid importance to others.
     
  6. vics

    vics Member

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    If you have a camera that you are very comfortable with, use it forever, regardless of the shutter noise. I will say though that if what you want is a quiet shutter, get a Rolleiflex TLR.
    Vic
     
  7. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    One of the big plusses of a rangefinder is that they can be very compact and quiet- not something that will announce your presence. A TLR can be quiet but it is far larger than a rangefinder- not something you can tuck into a pocket. If you need a quiet slr, you can blimp it... but that's not going to make a fairly large camera any smaller.

    The quietest cameras I've had was actually an AF camera... a konica hexar AF with "stealth" mode. The mamiya 6/7/7ii cameras are also nice and quiet. The olympus XA is also fairly quiet and of course very small.

    Having a quiet camera is not necessarily about "getting caught" - there are plenty of situations in which one simply doesn't want to announce to everyone that a photographer is in the room. I have recently worked around some acoustic guitar sessions with an SLR and it's not cutting it, everybody knows instantly that somebody is taking photos. Alas I sold my konica some time ago :sad:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2009
  8. nocrop

    nocrop Member

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    Tonight, I did a walk around the neighborhood photo shoot with my girlfriend. She saw a scene she wanted to shoot, so she grabbed my Canon P and took her time to get the shot. I couldn't believe how loud the shutter sounded from where I was, about 30 feet away. No doubt I'm attuned to the sound, but still . . .

    It's rarely an issue, but a quiet shutter can be important, especially if you're taking photos on the sly. My Autocord has the quietest shutter of any camera I've owned, including an M6, and it isn't even close.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    When cameras were first permitted in U.S. courtrooms, judges generally stipulated "Leica only," because they were quiet enough not to interfere with the proceedings. I think that's true for many journalistic situations, where the camera shouldn't interfere with a speaker, particularly if video is being recorded at the same event.
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Sometimes I want to have a car with a loud rumbly muffler.

    Sometimes I want my cameras to have a good solid click.

    Momma, don't take that CLICK away from me!

    Steve
     
  11. elekm

    elekm Member

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    A big factor is a desire to be as unobtrusive as possible. A big SLR (film or digital) with a fat zoom lens and whirring motor drive announces yourself when you sometimes don't want that attention.
     
  12. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Another very quiet is the Kodak Retina IIIS rangefinder.
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    A load click is the modern analog of the press cameras firing off flashbulbs in the mid twentith century!

    Steve
     
  14. cknapp1961

    cknapp1961 Member

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    I like using a rangefinder at say a wedding from the back of the church for the "overall" shots. Also, the mirror slap at symphonic concerts can be an issue, but it works better to shoot at the rehearsal anyway. Rangefinders also come in handy at military memorial services that I shoot. I use a Kodak Retina IIIC for these and other situations, switching to an SLR or DSLR as the situation requiring respectful silence has passed. SFC Craig Knapp, craig.knapp1@us.army.mil
     
  15. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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    I was a sound and specifically a dialogue editor for most of my professional life and while a noisy camera shutter would be a nuisance it was really a matter of a quiet one being preferable. All extraneous noise is a pain in production sound recording, but quite often a 2 frame "click" is more easily remedied in post-production than the sound of a motion picture camera that grinds away in the "background" throughout the take, a dolly that squeaks its way across the floor of the studio,aircraft overhead etc. or absolutely the most difficult, a director who commands throughout the shot between lines of dialogue (yes Peter Jackson, I mean you!).

    Whilst dialogue is very often rerecorded actors and directors often find that the performance in the production take is the best one, thus the lengths that dialogue editors take to rescue dodgy production recordings of dialogue.

    I do imagine that our fragile thespian friends would, however, be rather sensitive about a clacky still camera shutter.

    Regards from the off topic department - Ross
     
  16. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    Believe it or not but at one time our society did NOT have the constant hyper-noise level that it has today and many individuals actually liked quiet and did not feel that they had a right to blast whatever form of sound for others to hear. There were no boom boxes, no car stereo's, no cell phone rings tones, no walkman's, in short it was quiet. there was not the constant proliferation of cameras, cell phone cameras and video cameras. One could pretty much do as one wanted without the constant concern of being photographed. Those wanting to photograph people invariably gravitated to the Leica to avoid disturbing thier subjects and to photograph 'candids' or what is now referred to as 'street photography'. Much press photography was done with a large press camera with flash. With the advent of the SLR, the noise of the mirror was considered intrusive and again the Leica was the camera of choice. Today, SLR's are everywhere and the noise from them has replaced the songs of the birds we used to hear.-Dick
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Stephen,

    Think of a poet reading out his work in front of a small audirence. I would rather not use my T90 in continuous mode at such an event. Someone being around the podium is already distracting.

    But others do and I know I'm oldfashioned. Anyway, the ideal analogue camera for such a situation does not exist. I don't think a rangefinder would suit me either; perhaps a TLR with a tele lens. In this case a sensor-SLR without mirror but electronic viewfinder has its advantages.
     
  18. eddym

    eddym Member

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    For 25 years I have shot dance and theater performances. The quiet shutter of my Leicas allows me to take pictures like this:
    [​IMG]

    I was seated in the front row of the theater. At this point the music stopped, and the dancer made this position in absolute silence. Even the shutter of my M6 was too loud, so I only made one shot.
    I have shot ballets, symphonies, pantomimes, plays, poetry readings, and lectures, and I have never heard any complaints about my work disturbing anyone. This is because I use a camera with a quiet shutter.
     
  19. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    For most of my work, the sound is not really important. But as mention before, there are times where quiet is important.

    Jeff
     
  20. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    There are places were photography isn't (or wasn't) allowed except with a Leica or similar quiet camera, and no flash.

    Often only accredited news photographers were allowed to shoot in certain courts, the only system cameras that used to meet the noise requirements, and were quiet enough were M series Leicas, until more recently.

    As Eddy describes above most theatres won't let you use an SLR during a performance, but they may allow a Leica, one way to get around this is to shoot at the dress performance were you can get total freedom.

    So a quiet camera can have it's benefits.

    Ian
     
  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I agree. But I use the camera that I have available at the time. One is a Certo SuperSport Dolly which is very quiet, but somewhat cumbersome.

    I just find the whole discussion amusing because when I started taking an interest in photography in the late 1950's this was a hot topic in "Modern Photography" and "Popular Photography". The amusing part, for me, is that all the comments made today are the same as those presented then. Hence, "There is nothing new under the Sun." or "Technology changes, people do not."

    Besides I love the sound of my 500 CX.

    Steve
     
  22. Roger Krueger

    Roger Krueger Member

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    If you want absolutely dead effing silent try a Black (e.g. early) Konica Hexar AF with silent mode on. Comparatively an M6 sounds like a 12 gauge. The 35/2 isn't the equal of a Leica ASPH, but folks say it's as good as the last pre-ASPH 'cron.
     
  23. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    If you're doing weddings, shooting during the ceremony, a quiet shutter is certainly an advantage. It's really surprising how loud even a Leica is during a church service. Otherwise, probably doesn't matter.
     
  24. Steve Mack

    Steve Mack Member

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    OK, I learned my lesson!:rolleyes:

    Moderators: if you want to shut this one down it's all right with me!

    With best regards,

    Stephen S. Mack
     
  25. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Member

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    :D How is your suit doing, Steve?

    I often shoot in environments where I am trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, chiefly quiet acoustic performances and candids. As an audio engineer and acoustician by trade I began to notice the importance of the reflectivity of the space. In very live spaces like some churches, halls, theaters, etc. that are designed for lush acoustic reverberation, the sound of the shutter, regardless of its volume, can hang in the air for a second or more.

    In the beginning I used an F4e only because it was what I had available to me. Like the Konica Hexar and others, it has a "silent" mode that dampens the mirror and reduces the motor noise. It was quiet enough for what I was doing at the time but after experimenting with some different cameras, I found the cloth shutter to be the most desirable. Its intensity varies from camera to camera of course but to my ears it still has a softer sound than most metal shutters.

    One also learns to adjust their technique as needed. For particularly quiet performances/spaces, I try to line up my exposure with noises already occurring within the space. If there are music cues or a spot of crowd reaction I try to exploit that and shoot then. Of course, there are still plenty of moments when the right time is the quiet time and then it's just a matter of courage. :smile: