6.19.2011

How to make your Canon 7D (or lesser camera) shut up and be stealthy. Cheap.

Here's a garden variety Canon 7D.  I like the camera because the shutter is already far quieter than the 5Dmk2 or the 1D series cameras and it's noise characteristic is less obnoxious than the 60D's.  But sometimes you'd like, or need, your camera to be a lot quieter,  more unobtrusive.

The camera as seen in the wild. Held by primo assistant, Ben.

I grabbed an old Zing camera cover I'd bought to protect camera bodies back in the days when we did a lot more travel.  I thought the neoprene would dampen vibrations on airplanes and keep splash and dust off the machines when not in use.  They worked pretty well.  But we started using one expensive digital camera instead of four comparatively cheap film cameras and I stopped using the Zings.  They sat in a box with other "one time use" stuff like Manfrotto tripod leg "shoes" designed so your tripod doesn't sink into sand at the beach.  For a while there was a raft of products designed to fit on your tripod legs to create a little cradle beneath the center column.  You were supposed to put things there you might need in a hurry.  A light meter, extra film, the polaroid back or even your loupe.  But as film dimmed so did the need for these accessories.

The box now provides a home for small flash accessories that people sent me to test.  Most were used once before I came to the conclusion that I could do this or that better with stuff that was already on the market.  I called the inventors or makers and they weren't interested in paying to have the units shipped back.

Here is the Zing Camera Case made from very thick Neoprene.  This case was made big enough to fit a full sized professional film camera with motor drive to it is more than roomy enough for an unadorned 7D. Notice how the top flap comes over from the back of the case and encircles the lens....

The case, as delivered, has a snout on the front that covers and protects a short zoom or normal focal length lens.  A flap comes over from the back and wraps around the lens snout to secure the packge.

Lately, the box has started to fill up with video camera stabilizer grips.  Cheap ones and expensive ones.  I've come to the conclusion that the cheap ones are most effective while the pricy ones look best.  But most of the time the tripod wins out.....  And, of course, the box is also home to many connecting cables.  I recently threw out all the SCSI cables when I realized that the last SCSI peripheral left the studio circa 2001.....

I took a pair of scissors and cut the snout right off.  Just did it.  No guilt.  Actor/Model/Patient Son is showing how a lens will stick right thru the newly created hole.


Anyway,  I cut a hole in the Zing camera cover so the lens could stick out and then I cut a hole in the back so I could look throw the finder while the whole package is bundled up and now I have a home made blimp.  It actually does a fairly good job of turning a noticeable noise into just background clutter.

Here's the raw case.  It's been modified before to work with a Nikon F5.  See the hole just about in the middle?  That was for the previous camera's finder.

Amazing what you can do with stuff from the box.....and a pair of scissors.

The lens is shoved thru the front opening and the rest of the case wrapped around the camera.

I've cut a new opening so I can see thru the 7D finder.  The case is open at the top because of my previous experiments but that works because you can look down through the top hole and see the screen for a quick preview.


Finally, the whole package in the hands of an expert.  There's enough play to get a shutter finger in under the top lid and enough play to reach in and make control adjustments.  The neoprene is dense and almost one quarter inch deep so it does a good job dampening noise.


It's not that much fun to shoot with but when in a stationary position it certainly serves it's purpose.


And that's the whole story of the sound deadening device (SDD) that I created to shoot during a live performance at Zachary Scott Theater.  You asked.

Ben's first babysitter writes a best seller.

If you've read the blog over the last two years you've probably seen this photo and other photographs of a young woman named, Lou Ann Lofton.  I met Lou Ann at a coffee shop called Quakenbush's Intergalactic Bakery and Coffee Shop on the main drag across from the University of Texas campus, here in Austin back in 1991 or 1992.  How did we meet?  I looked up when she walked into the coffee shop, her arms loaded with books, and I though to myself, "this is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life."  I walked up, introduced my photographic self and handed her a card.  A few weeks later I made a portrait of her in my studio and we became friends.  In addition to being beautiful she was and is one of the smartest people I've ever known.

When we visited her house I was constantly amazed at shelf after shelf of books that surrounded a comfortable chair in her living room.  She read constantly and, even in her early 20's, was fascinated by financial markets, commodities markets and especially equities markets.  I cast her in one of the first commercial videos I produced and I used her in several ads and editorial projects.

And when Ben was born she volunteered to babysit for us and.....was Ben's very first babysitter.

She moved out of Austin over a decade ago and is one of the brains behind the Motley Fool financial website.  And, she's written a book.  And I am certain it will be a good book on at least two levels.

First, it will be a rare product.  A very well written book that will reward avid readers with elegant and addictive prose.  Second, it will teach people how to invest for the long term......from the view point of a successful investor.  The book is entitled, Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl, And Why You Should Too.
I've pre-ordered it from Amazon.com because everything Lou Ann ever told me turned out to be right.

Hit the link and see what you think.

And yes,  she was a great babysitter.