Originally Posted by wgerrard
My XA is definitely not silent. The shutter is quiet, but definitely audible.
That said... I appreciate a quiet camera, but if the purpose of a quiet camera is to avoid clueing people into the fact that you just took a picture of them, isn't that possibility blown away because they've just seen you hold a camera to your face that's pointed in their direction?
If you are far enough away from someone so that they don't hear the shutter, how likely are they to notice you at all?
Conversely, if you want to get so close to people that you want a silent camera, aren't you also so close that you are quite obvious?
...Yours for not making a fetish out of quite cameras.
Well, it looks like that you may have a point, but the fact is that it just does not work that way, most of times, at least in my experience. Yes, if you are far enough away, no need for a quiet camera. But no need for a RF too, probably: you'll be working with a long, fast tele and the best tool for it would be a SLR, probably (paparazzi do it all the time).
On the other hand, if you are photographing people next to you (probably using something on the range from 28 to 50), camera noise is much more of a concern than it seems. Most people (either known people or strangers) are aware of you being around with a camera in your eye, of course, and react to that. People you know tend to "pose" for the camera, people you don't know tend to turn around, step aside or signal, in some way, that they don't want to be in the picture. In some countries, like Tunisia, they will even be very verbal about it, a friend of mine almost got stoned there for taking a few pictures...
But with a very silent camera, they don't get audible feedback to _when_ you take the picture (with the Hexar, sometimes even you don't!) and, after a while, go on with their "normal" activities, especially if you are not pointing the camera directly on them (and with something around a 28-35, that's what I'll be doing). For people you are with, that usually means stop "posing" and for people you don't know, they go on with their business.
Most people, when they see me with a camera in my eye, around them really expect to 1) see a flash and 2) hear a shutter noise. When none of this happens, thay probably thinking I'm just fooling around with the camera
or I'm not dangerous (reporter!), since I don't have a flash and/or a big, noisy camera.
Photographing people you don't know, at least for me, falls into two categories:
1) sometimes I'll ask people for permission to photograph them and it's going to be a posed shot. It does not matter what I'm carrying (I've photographed people with my 6x17 Fotoman and that's not a discreet camera, I assure you!). Probably, I'll get their name and address and send them back a photo.
2) sometimes, I don't ask for permission. Then I'll just hang around, most of the times with the camera in my eye, not pointing to them directly. I'll take a few shots and after a while, people will relax and go on with their activities (or just turn around and get away, sometimes it happens). If this is the option, having a very quiet camera helps, at least in my experience. The worst approach is using a big camera, flash, tele (people will see you are pointing the camera directly to them) and, worst of all, giving them a clue that you took a picture and it matters (ie, camera noise, taking the camera off your eye and stare directly to the people, or even worse, do all that and check the histogram on the LCD...
The shot I posted is from a series of 11 shots. The man was aware of me and probably knew I was taking pictures. But he was not the main subject (that's a 35mm and he is very much in the corner), I carried no flash (and believe me it was dark) and I just kept the camera in my eye, just moving around and pointing in several directions. As usual, he probably got fed up wating for a photograph to be taken (no clues!) and just went on doing his stuff.
Sorry if this is becoming a bit off topic now, but the reaction I get from people I photograph definitely depends on the camera I'm using and the way I use it... And that includes shutter and motor / winding noise.
That said, I don't loose sleep over it, either. Although I have to admit I was (and still am) a bit frustrated with the shutter noise that emanates from my new Leica M8 (people DO turn around in a church!) and I feel VERY tempted to dust off my Hexar, load it with film and use it...