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  1. #1

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

    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. #2
    Truzi's Avatar
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    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.
    Truzi

  3. #3
    Dr Croubie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Truzi View Post
    Plus, there are always a few people who don't turn off the shutter sound on their cell phones
    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.
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

    f/64 and be there.

  4. #4
    AgX
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    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. #5
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    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. #6
    Truzi's Avatar
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    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.
    Truzi

  7. #7
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    This is probably not the case with present day models, but I use to think that a Bronika sounded like a bomb going off.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  8. #8

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    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


  9. #9
    GRHazelton's Avatar
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    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. #10
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    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.
    Dan

    The simplest tools can be the hardest to master.

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