|Jeremy Hoare is a freelance travel photographer residing in London, England. Phone/Fax: +44 20 7722 2065. Email: email@example.com Web: http://www.travelwriters.com/jeremyhoare|
One thing that is very useful on occasions to any travel photographer is a camera that operates quietly. Announcing your presence in near-silent emotional situations, such as a religious ceremony, with the loud crash of an SLR mirror flip and shutter could annoy people and even get you thrown out of an interesting opportunity. In highly charged situations, I sometimes wait to take the only picture I know I will be able to, just because of this -- once the shutter is fired I will become very conspicuous to everyone nearby and could be asked to leave.
But nowhere in endless camera test reports can I find a decibel level of a particular models performance. The closest is that sometimes there's a reference in the text describing a particular camera. But it must be easy to put a camera in a soundproof box with a decibel meter and measure the shutter noise.
In Japan, photographers can walk into photo stores and play with most cameras, held on security leads of course. It offers the wonderful possibility to try out every dial and button, compare viewfinders, look inside, and listen to the shutter! So while I was
there recently, I was anxious to try out the new Voigtlander Bessa R, and it does seem to be a good rangefinder camera for a reasonable price, filling a niche in the photojournalism market which is often part of travel anyway.
I was thinking to replace my expensive and old-fashioned Leica M6, as to change film with the Leica means taking the baseplate completely off, an archaic deign concept, in my view. I dropped and nearly lost it down a crack in the floor of a crowded dance hall some years ago, so I speak from a near-nightmare experience. The real pluspoint of the M6 for me is the very quiet shutter, which is so different from the shutter sound of all other cameras that people around you don't associate it with a camera sound and so ignore it. Great for me; I stay invisible as a photographer.
Imagine my dismay when I did my own highly scientific decibel test (listened to it from the front at arms length) of the Bessa R and found it was very noisy. No sale there, then. Next I tried the classic Nikon FM2, which has been revamped and returned recently to the market as the FM3A. Unhappily, again a very noisy shutter, so no sale there either.
So now I am looking out for a good condition Konica C35, possibly fifteen years old, but in tense situations it is quiet enough to be used. It also looks like a snap camera, another advantage when I wish to remain as inconspicuous as possible.
But a complication is that in my opinion, it is not a good time to buy expensive camera equipment. The end of film/and not-quite-there digital, is the crossroads we are at now. So Ill also search for another Nikon FA, as I will not invest heavily in film cameras when their use is rapidly coming to an end.
One reason I look forward to going digital, is totally silent shutters. Only I will know when I have taken a picture. How sad that conventional film camera manufacturers have not considered the shutter noise problem. They have certainly missed out on sales to
this travel photographer!
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