Soberly Dressed

on August 28, 2022
And of serious mien. The professional and dignified approach to photographic equipment. Conservative. Black. Dull. Ahem... Why? For years I read that black cameras were more professional than silver cameras. They were apparently all of the above when it came to presenting a professional appearance and presumably they made more professional pictures. In reality, at the time that I read this, chrome-plated cameras were easier to make than black-painted ones and the chrome plating lasted far longer than the paint did. Those painted professional Leicas and Contaxes soon started to show scuff marks, wear and brassing - much like their owners. Professional photographers were sometimes a rather scruffy lot then...I'm glad to say that this has changed. They all look splendid now and no-one should feel attacked at all... Back to the gear. There is a certain logic in presenting a corporate image in the design of cameras and lenses. The best makers do just this - sometimes to the point of obsession. Lesser factories turn out the occasional design oddity or singleton that may be perfect in operation but look odd in the gadget bag. If clients need to be impressed by equipment to justify the fees, you have to take this sort of thing in to account. Or get smarter clients. But what of the amateur market - the enthusiasts and artists? People not bound by the prejudices of others - only by their own. Can they have a more varied and colourful set of gear to play with? They certainly can. And they have had some spectacular chances in the past. The Yellow Hasselblad 500 C/M comes to mind, as well as similar startlers from Pentax some years later. Even Cosina had some "choices " in their Voigtländer range for awhile. And Three legged Thing. Their tripods have always been fun to look at - if only to see what they have dared to do. Of course they work fine - they are well-engineered and innovative - but that's only a third of the deal - the other two-thirds is the colour and the weird names. I have a feeling that Friday lunchtime at their design bureau goes on for most of the afternoon... There is more than just swagger about this - the various sections of their tripods and supports can be multicoloured to show where they are - the orange anodising standing out from the dark carbon fibre. And why not - in a dark studio a completely black tripod is an invitation to run over it like a tank trap. I wrap mine in orange tape so I can dodge it. This is also a feature of other makers when they eschew the black-only aesthetic and put chrome or shiny finish somewhere on the things. I welcome it and admire the look of the things. This isn't Pennsylvania and I'm not Amish.