How to darken a chrome lens? (Summaron 3.5)

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by juan_de_valdenebro, Jun 16, 2016.

  1. Hello,
    I am photographing in dangerous neighborhoods in South America, and I need to darken my Summaron because it calls everyone's eyes (on a black camera), so I guess there must be a few chemical compounds that can do it... The easy part of this story is I don't mind the final tone, or how uneven (tonally) lens' surface can be in the end and forever: I'd prefer a lens that looks old or beaten or rusty... ANY idea is very very welcome... After a couple of days searching, I have no clue... I really think applying some liquid with a brush can make it, maybe some acid? Thanks a lot!
  2. Chromium is pretty resistant, chemically. Anything which would darken chromium would not be something you'd like inside the lens.
    I think the proper approach is to use ink (of any color), applied to a check to purchase a lens which meets your requirements. If a Leica lens is beyond your budget, look at Zeiss or Voigtlander. There are also P&S cameras which would get the job done at a fraction of the price.
    I don't think the color is much of a disguise. Thieves seem to know a lot more about value than you seem to give them credit. It may not matter. What's yours can be theirs at no cost to them, and maybe the ultimate price for you.
  3. I think your search came to nothing because, other than simply using a more appropriate low-cost camera to work in such dangerous conditions (media types can afford to get their camera stolen, then replaced by their employer. Not me), your only real options with what you have would be to:
    1. just buy a black lens, or...
    2. beat the heck out of that one you have so it really is, beaten and rusty.
    Personally, I don't like option 2 and I wouldn't try applying anything to the lens to make it appear so. Probably liable to do more harm than good.
    There are people who re-finish chrome lenses to black paint just like they can remove the chrome finish and paint bodies black. Almost certainly a long process, probably won't see the lens back for months.
  4. Black electrical tape to cover the shiny spots.
  5. There is black silkscreen ink meant to stick to glass surfaces or various other paints. - All of them are of course messy and unlikely to bond very well.
    I'd get a black lens hood and call it a day. If you are a crafts person, why not stitch the crummiest half case on earth for your "worthless beater"?
    Insurance is of course another option and runs probably around 2.5% of the kit's value per year.
    I don't know South American poverty, but honestly: if an easily grabbed camera pays as much as 2h of hard work, its worth stealing. And sad to tell: this applies to Zeniths, FEDs & Zorkis too, even in Europe. But I wouldn't be surprised if a robber asked you to hand over phone wallet and your belt instead of your camera.
    Like Edward I'd question color's disguise capability. A camera is held used and carried like a camera and spotted as such be it neon pink black or woodland. Stealth is acquired by appearing poorer than the thief + blending in.
    Good luck!
  6. It may be less of an issue than you think - not sure a Leica + chrome lens is much less noticeable than a Leica with a black lens. If I were doing this, I'd use gaffer tape, which is easier to peel off afterwards. You could buy the wide stuff and cut out a ring for the front of the lens, and use strips to cover the rest.
  7. I know they always call the shiny ones "chrome", but are they really?
    I always thought the lenses I knew were aluminum.
    Otherwise, the black Zorki lenses look a lot less shiny than some.
    I should post a picture of my green Zorki.
  8. Have you tried a Black Sharpie permanent marker?

    You can remove it with alcohol after the job is finished.
  9. Black Leica lenses are either enameled brass or aluminum. Chome (shiny) lenses are chrome plated brass. The only other bright metal would be nickel, which is somewhat yellow and prone to staining. It is used on firearms because it can be polished to a mirror finish, whereas hard chrome plating, like used on Leica lenses, is usually textured and somewhat matte. Brass lenses are much heavier than ones with an aluminum shell.
    Chromium is very hard, 8 on the Mohs scale, which is harder than glass and common minerals, including quartz. Bright chrome, as used on automobile trim, is very thin and full of micro cracks. Consequently it is not very durable and allows the substrate to corrode.
  10. I think Brian's idea is good, a black industrial-sized sharpie will darken it down, and is reversible. Or, black photo tape, similar to blue painter's masking tape.
  11. I suggest a large silver handgun tucked into your one will notice your fancy lens.
  12. Thanks everyone... The Sharpie idea looks like having nothing but lots of advantages... I'll try it, thanks!
  13. Per Brian, I use a black Sharpie often. Lens hoods, especially on the outer edge get banged up, nicked or otherwise worn through so there is a bright reflection point on the edge. The sharpie blends right in and can be easily renewed. Don't try flat black model airplane paint: messy, chips, wears right off, won't stick to chrome.
  14. I wouldn't alter the finish on any Leica equipment but the first thing that came to mind was to use camo paints that are
    used for guns. They are semi-durable and come in various colors.
  15. How about a black vinyl wrap?
    Or better yet... a pink vinyl wrap.

Share This Page