Cheap alternative to painting Leica black...

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by darius_jedburgh, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. I was wondering if anyone here could suggest a good tape to use to
    cover a chrome M2 with. Is it regular electric tape, gaffer's tape.
    Any ideas, and also where I could get some?<p>Also, is it true that
    HCB continued to cover his Leica with tape even after they started
    building black models?<p>Thanks in advance for all of your responses.
  2. Why didn't you buy a black M2 (or other for much less $$$) in the first place? Why bother with it? Many historic photographers used chrome cameras with good effect. If one raises any camera to the camera shy they will know your intention. Anticipate and try to blend in, preset your settings, and be ready for the moment you desire. If one smashes any object to ones face, people are going to notice, because it is not a normal action except to blow one's nose.

    I have done all the above in Muslim countries and still had many subjects flinch. Never did the color of the camera matter; in my case an M and Olympus Stylus, black. Improve your technique.
  3. Darius, HCB covered his Leica with tape in the 1950s and stopped covering his cameras later. I suspect the reason is that it doesn't work. Whether your Leica is silver, black or blue it is going to get attention from anyone who knows Leicas. If they don't, you're just one of many millions of people who today carry a camera around. If you cover your Leica with black tape it will most likely call attention to it because it looks weird. People are more sophisticated than we suspect. The only way I have found not to draw people's attention is to shoot from the waist--that is to shoot blind. That takes a little practice but it works...
  4. Hmmmm, I had never thought of draping my cameras in Kleenex. I wonder if they could have programmable shutter sounds (like the ring tones on some cell phones). Raise handerchief-covered camera to eye, "Ah choo!, Ah choo! Ah choo!"
  5. Blowing his nose and taking a picture at the same time is another one of those silly HCB
  6. In this day and age, with shiny and noisy digital cameras, one wrapped in tape would inevitably call the attention of the people around you.

    For some reason, while traveling in Costa Rica, my Contax G1 made me too conspicuous (should I really blame it on the camera?). Later, in Cartagena, Colombia, my Canonet was virtually ignored... and so was I!

    Go figure...
  7. I understood there were two primary reasons for the gaffer tape; to stop the sun reflecting off the chrome and thus drawing attention, particularly useful in war zones,
    and as a bit of protection for the wearing surfaces. Elderly professional use cameras on sale seem to be either very heavily brassed, or looking mostly as new after the crafty owner has turned his taxicab into a low mileage only used on Sunday by removing the tape.
  8. M2 is a damn pretty camera to be covered with black electric or gaffer's tape. If you
    actually shoot on the street, you will realise that black or chrome, people WILL notice you
    shooting. So what's the point? Why delude yourself of this fact? Just shoot and smile and
    leave the electric tape where it belongs - on some electric wires back home.
  9. I am glad you are not a collector. If you can find an original (Meaning not repainted nor restored) black paint M2 and its price, it will make your heart stop. Well, maybe you are rich so it does not matter, but $4,000 for a real beater M2 black with mechanical flaws to a mint one, could easily set you back for US$10,000. There is one M4 black paint on eBay right now. Check out the asking price and you'll know what I mean. Cheers.
  10. I have found a very happy side to walking around with a Leica or some other weird rangefinder camera. I've made lots of friends--in Japan, the US, France, UK. There are people who are dying to talk Leica with someone and seldom have the chance. I've have never had a camera that has created so many friendships.

    I suppose if you do put tape on your camera you'll be more reaedily accepted as a serious street photog.
  11. Why not try an elastic bandage, the type used by athletes or medical patients for wrists, ankles and knees? Start wrapping it around your shooting wrist first. Then continue on and cover up the camera, leaving a small opening for the film advance and thumb (unless you use a winder, then cover it too), one longer slit for the RF/VF and last a hole just big enough for the lens. Then your hand and camera will be one camouflauged unit. When you shoot, people will think you're just wiping your brow and will never suspect your're photographing them. Plus, you'll never drop the camera or get it stolen. Voila, le mummy Leica!
  12. Why not just wear black gloves?
  13. Black photo masking tape! My M2 & M3 have worn it for years.
  14. Gil said it! Back in the bad old days a lot of us would tape up our chrome Leicas (and other brands) with Scotch Black Photographic Masking Tape which is a bit thicker than regular masking tape. Other than as protection there's little sense in doing it anymore. The average person today thinks that "real" pro cameras have to have humongous zoom lenses, motor drives, and look like they're made out of plastic. Or maybe folks just think that my beat-to-crap Leicas are so old that they don't actually work ;-) Or maybe I just don't feel self concious about using them so since I'm "acting natural" nobody pays me much mind.

    The black masking tape also acts as a padding against dings and scratches and has a dull glare free finish. Anybody who can manage to keep the plastic "protector" on the base plate for more than a month's use should have no trouble keeping a camera body taped up for a year or two between retapings.
  15. I just paid an extra $400 for a chrome M5 instead of a black one; give poor old chrome a chance! =)
  16. I'd like to clear up what I think is a misconception about using a balck camera because it is less conspicuous on the street. Black is indeed less conspicuous (particularly if you're wearing dark clothing) BEFORE you take the picture. If you're stalking a shot with a black object in your hand or around your neck people are less likely, at least in theory, to see it than if it is bright chrome. Once you proceed to take the shot, though, people are likely to see you taking the picture regardless whether your camera is black, chrome or yellow. Black is stealthy... it allows you to get closer to a subject without drawing attention. After that you're on your own... at least IMO.

    Just my two cents...

  17. "it allows you to get closer to a subject without drawing attention"

    Let me correct that... iy MAY allow you to get closer without drawing attention.

    Bottom line though is that technique is more important than camera color. I have a silver M6 with a silver Rapidwinder and a silver 50mm Summicron lens. It's pretty damn easy to identify it a camera. But I wrap the strap around my wrist and hold the camera instead of dangling it from around my neck. I usually hold it down at my side and when I spot a potential shot developing I nonchalantly move closer while putting the camera behind my leg.

    But I can see how a black camera could work to make you more inconspicuous. I certainly would not argue with someone who feels his black camera allows him to be more inconspicuous. It makes sense that it might. The idea is to to conceal your intentions until the last moment.

  18. Gabriel, I bought a black paint M4 for $700.

    Mike, You don't need stealth because "most" of what I've seen of yours were staged and/or static, no?
  19. One last thing... I remember reading once that Elliott Erwitt liked to keep his camera (a black M3) hidden underneath his coat. He had his leather Leica strap modified to add swivels and hooks so he could easily detach the camera and pull it out quickly for a shot. (His rig sounds similar to what is now the standard Domke strap with the swivels and hooks.) But the point is that Erwitt's approach was what I was talking about... conceal your intentions until the last moment. Don't walk around with a camera dangling around your neck.
  20. When I interned at Magnum Photos in NYC, my first errand was to deliver some stuff to
    Gilles Peress. He shares a great studio in downtown Manhattan with some other
    photographers, and has a very impressive collection of photography books. In fact, one of
    the items I delivered was David Alan Harvey's "Divided Soul", autographed of course.

    Like so many other interns at Magnum, I always carried my camera with me. The first thing
    he said when he picked up my camera was "Cover the Leica logo with some gaffer, and
    lose the lens-cap. Just use a UV filter.", which I promptly did.

    That's why I use gaffer tape.
  21. A lot of the in-close candid images in my Sydney Unposed project were taken with bright, shiny chrome cameras. So the idea that you need a black camera to be somehow invisible is a myth.
    Hell, since Nov of last year I've been using a Hasselblad 501cm - the silver chrome model - for the same kind of (outdoors) work. It's hard to get more conspicuous than that :?)
    As for "shooting blind" when the camera is away from your face. Well, if you buy yourself an AUFSU or cheaper Zeiss alternative, then the blindness goes away and you can frame your shots as precisely as you wish. I've been doing it for years now. FWIW I'm even using the AUFSU on the 'blad - it lets me shoot with the mirror up and thus avoid 80% of the "KER-LOMP" shutter noise.
  22. James, you can't say "chrome M5" or "black M5". The M5 was only made in chrome. That's when they started making black chrome cameras. Even then people didn't think it looked as good as black paint but it holds up better to beating around. One of these days the collectors will finally correctly value the time and effort required to take a pristine new chrome Leica and get it to the point where it looks like some of my M bodies...LOL. Dang, they must be worth tens of thousands at this point.

    Maybe the good people at, an excellent product, by the way, should come out with a pre-cut self-stick "cover the chrome" kit. Then the entire camera could look like it was black vulcanite (or hot pink lizard skin).

    Yeah, NOBODY would take you seriously if you had an entire camera done up in that lizard skin!
  23. "James, you can't say "chrome M5" or "black M5". The M5 was only made in chrome. That's when they started making black chrome cameras."


    Hey Al, it's too early for drinking on a weekday w/o football, maybe someone spiked you Drum tobacco. ;*)

    Black M5s are mUCH more common than Chrome ones, that's why James decided to pay $400 more for a chrome M5 over a similarly condition black one, see?
  24. Approach one: your camera is too BIG. Get a CL, don't use a strap, and simply wrap your hands around it. Looks like an amateur camera anyway. Approach two: Rip off the vulcanite and glue on some garishly loud scraps of car seat vinyl, like I did with my first Leicaflex SL (bright lime green). Looks utterly stupid, and people just think your'e a harmless nut, not a professional trying to profit from their miseries. "Smile, and the whole world smiles with you." or AT you as the case may be.
  25. Black M5s are mUCH more common than Chrome ones

    Yes, but "black chrome" as opposed to "silver chrome"- rather than chrome vs. black paint/enamel. I think that is what Al was referring to.
  26. Were there any factory painted M5s?
  27. I've never heard of black paint M5's. I don't see any reference of them in the Leica collector books.

  28. As far as I remember you had a choice of "silver" chrome or black chrome. And yup, that IS what I was referring to! Now what would be REALLY cool would be to get the black chrome stripped off my CL body and have it replated in silver chrome. Then I guess I'd have to cover it with black tape...LOL

Share This Page