sound-proof camera housings

Discussion in 'Nature' started by andy_hay, Jan 13, 1999.

  1. Hi. Does anyone know of any sources for sound-proof camera housings
    for use in at-nest photography, or for that matter has anyone made use
    of them? They are sometimes used by stills photographers on movie sets
    I believe, and when used on cine cameras they might be known as
    'blimps' or 'barneys' (a web-search on the latter brought up numerous
    sites relating to a certain purple dinosaur!).
  2. I have no personal experience, but B. Moose Peterson describes those
    devices and their usage in his book "Nikon Guide to Wildlife
  3. Here you go:
    Jacobson Instruments Mark Jacobson
    11491 Chandler Blvd.
    North Hollywood, CA 91601
    fax: 818.752.7913


    I have used blimps for shooting on movie sets and during symphonic performances. To the human ear, they ae dead quiet from 18 inches away. You need to talk with Mark about your specific cameras and lenses
  4. Thanks very much for the info guys. Ellis: what kind of camera were
    you using within the blimp - does the blimp allow you full control?
    How bulky/heavy is it, and would it allow the use of remote releases
    and attachment to a tripod? How expensive are they - and does anyone
    know of any outlets in the United Kingdom?
  5. Andy, you really need to talk with Mark Jacobson about your needs but re: your last post. I was using a Nikon N90s, with these lenses:
    20mm AF, 35mm AF, 85mm f/1.8 AF, 180mm f/2.8 AF, and a 300mm f/2.8 manual. The blimp comes in two parts, a body and interchangable lens tube, it is not I believe, waterproof. I used mine (rented from Jacobson's) in AF & aperture priority mode. You have to take the camera out of the housing to change film. It works best with cameras with a high eyepoint viewfinder. The blimp is configured differently for different cameras. You have access to shutter release, AF lock, and AE lock. Cost was about US$700.00. The body blimp is opaque (black PVS) and lined with foam conforming to the specific camera body. You fire the camera via a trigger button about where you'd expect one to be. This button connnects via cable to your remote socket on the camera. the overall size is about that of a shoebox, I cant recall if there is a tripod socket, but as these things are custom made, why not? The lenstube is capped in front with a removable glass cap. Have you tried any of the big film production or professional rental houses in London?
  6. Thanks Ellis. Sounds like a pretty well-designed piece of kit, but it
    must be a bit of a monster with a 300 2.8 on the front! I should think
    at that sort of price rental, or attempting to build my own might be
    the best options. It's good to talk to someone who's actually used
  7. Well actually there is no lens tube for the 300mm lens. I detatched the tube from the body and stuffed a padded Domke wrap around the lens barrel to dampen the sound somewhat., a lot still comes out of the end of the lens strangely enough. you should rent first and see if it works for you before buying one.
  8. I'm just wondering why you need a blimp for nest photography? What
    sort of equipment are you using and how close are you to the nest?
    While minimizing impact on the birds is (or should be) the #1 priority
    of any photographer doing such work, the noise of the camera is
    typically fairly low on the list of sources of disturbance. Just being
    there is #1 by a long shot, followed by the use of flash, with shutter
    noise being a distant 3rd (assuming you're not using a Pentax 67!)
  9. What I had in mind Bob was using a 35mm body with a wide-angle lens
    attached, fired remotely. Using a wide-angle would necessitate the
    camera being within a yard or so of a smaller bird: the idea being to
    get 'bird on nest within breeding habitat' - the wide-angle being set
    to a small aperture and at hyperfocal setting in order to get as much
    of the environment focussed as possible - the complete opposite of the
    telephoto treatment of nest photography. The shutter could be tripped
    either by using a long electronic remote cable with extension or via
    an infra-red/radio transmitter/receiver from a hide/blind at some
    distance. To some extent disturbance to the bird is reduced by the
    fact that the bulky hide looming on the skyline is further away than
    might otherwise be the case, although no doubt the bird will still be
    perturbed by the arrival of a small box on it's doorstep. And no doubt
    this box has to be introduced gradually in the same way that a hide
    is: during the process of moving the camera in it would no doubt be
    possible to get the bird used to the sound of the shutter by
    occasionally firing the camera empty. Of course some species are more
    or less sensitive to noise than others - likewise even individuals
    within a species, and it is amazing what birds will get used to,
    particularly if there's no obvious source (e.g the 'crash, tinkle' of
    someone dropping a teleconverter INSIDE their hide, and the associated
    muttered curses! Hypothetically). But as you say, the major priority
    is to minimalise disturbance, particularly to a nesting bird with
    eggs/young, and if it's possible to reduce noise, why not? Other
    advantages of using some kind of blimp might be that you could
    camouflage it to reduce visual impact for the bird, and so that it
    doen't attract unwanted attention to either the nest or the camera.
    Also it would of course be a bonus if it in some way weather-proofed
    the equipment. Of course this is by no means a new technique - I'm
    sure it must have been tried by yourself or one of your subscribers
    before? In fact it was suggested by Ilkka that Moose has made use of
    it (I haven't yet seen the book in question). I have previously
    attempted to improvise an amateurish kind of blimp by adapting the
    polystyrene block packaging that each camera body arrives in, wrapping
    the whole in camo tape and trying to break up the resulting boxy
    outline with rocks. The sound insulation was surprisingly poor
    (witness Ellis's last posting about lens tubes). I deposited the gizmo
    at a known wader/shorebird roost when the birds were away feeding (not
    having the luxury of time needed to move it in gradually). The body
    was an F4 set to 'continuous silent'. The birds clustered around it,
    but at a slight distance (evidence that the visual impact was a little
    too sudden or great) - just a little further away than I had hoped
    for! When the shutter was tripped they moved further away (audible
    impact), although it didn't create panic. Perhaps with time they would
    have habituated, but I would rather not have created even that small
    stir. Manufacture of blimps is obviously something of an art, hence my
  10. Sounds like an interesting project. A couple of thoughts come to
    mind. First would be a digital camera. No shutter, no mirror, no
    winder. Very, very quiet. The trouble would be finding one that
    could be fired remotely, had the right lens, could be "fix focused"
    etc. Second would be a Leica M6! Very quiet, but I'm not sure how
    loud the autowind would be...


    Given you want a wide angle lens, I'd have thought that putting the
    whole thing in a box would do the trick, given enough insulation. You
    don't need the ergonomic features of a blimp if you are triggering


    Good Luck
  11. Interesting points there about using a digi - I'll file that in my
    memory banks! Yes you're right about not needing full access to the
    camera body in that particular case, but I might also have use for a
    blimp for photographing alongside a film crew on occasion (and would
    then need those handling capabilities), and it would be handy to have
    something that would double-up. As I said before, it was great to hear
    from Ellis who's actually used one - the wonders of the www! I've had
    no joy on the British Journal of Photography's bulletin board as yet!
    Thanks y'all!
  12. Andy - try this before you spend a lot of time or money. Dont know if it will be ideal but it WILL be a starting point. Go to your nearest wetsuit manufacturer and ask to be given (or offer to buy) their offcuts and scraps of neoprene wetsuit material. I asked and gave some prints in return - folks were happy to have nice wildlife on the wall. Anyway - the neoprene material is easily cemented together with cans of black goop which the wetsuit folks can sell you. The neoprene comes in various thicknesses up to 1cm (and possibly thicker?), and the cement will STICK really well making neat tight joints. You can create all manner of shapes with various holes and whatever for bodies, and long tubes for lenses, made up from bits and pieces of the neoprene. I made a body cover for my F4s to use when stalking deer and otters as I was able to get so close that the camera shutter/winder was a disturbance, and the neoprene cover helped dampen the sound. The camera body cover also had the advantage of stopping the condensation from my breath freezing on the camera back in sub-zero winter weather during windy snowy days on the Scottish hills, and keeping the batteries working longer. I imagine you could layer a few skins of this material with something to create a custom case that keeps out weather and keeps in noise. For the cost of a can of cement it might be worth a try.
    Good luck.

  13. Thanks John, that sounds like a great idea - I'm all for something
    that might save $700! Did you get down to the 'inaudible to the human
    ear at more than 18" ' noise level? What sort of thickness did you
  14. Andy - I used the 7mm variety, which is thick enough to give a good sticking joint, but not so thick it becomes unwieldy in use or difficult to shape to the body - bearing in mind I wanted to handhold the thing. I also cut several holes to allow fingers access to various controls. You might not need all that accessibility so can make it less holey (and maybe more silent). A wodge around the lens in your case will help cut the sound too. As for the amount of sound decrease in decibels - I have no idea! All I know is it worked reasonably well; and if you are doing a static setup it will probably be possible to make a thicker one that is VERY quiet, either by using thicker material or layering the stuff. Worth a try I think as it will cost you less than #5 for the cement, and a couple of hours of your time. Got to be worth it!

  15. Thanks for the info John. It sounds like you're talking about butting
    edges up rather than just overlaps? I think I might try something that
    caters for both situations, if possible: make up one of your 'holey'
    blimps that'll just drop into a box with even more sound-proofing.
    Full Rubber Jacket!
  16. Hi Andy - yes - the joints are BUTTED. DO NOT overlap them as the cement will not stick to the fabric covering. If you want to strengthen the joint you can stitch it with nylon thread - the fabric allows this. It also allows the sewing on of velcro so you can have an easy way of fastening the thing closed.
  17. Thanks John.
  18. good practical info even I was looking for similar thing for similar project. is best forum for adsvice.

Share This Page