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  1. #1

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    Black VS. Chrome camera bodies.

    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. #2
    Lee L's Avatar
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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
    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.
    To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. #4

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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.

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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. #6

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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. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichSBV
    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...

    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. #8
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    My chrome(?) Canon AE-1 Program has some brassing on it.
    Diane

    Halak 41

  9. #9
    Lee L's Avatar
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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. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kennedy
    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
    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.

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