Wednesday, June 23, 2010


a camera manBack in the old days, cameras were mechanical devices. You pressed the button and a mechanical iris engaged to set the width of the lens diaphragm and a shutter opened and closed at the required speed for the exposure. A Leica made a lovely, gentle hiss (I borrowed one once) and my industrial-strength Zenit made a loud clunk. Possibly because it was made out of the combine harvesters that were remaindered during the Kazakh famines of the 1930s. The Zenit was the entry-level SLR; it was about a quarter of the price of the next cheapest model on the market.

It's all digital now. Which is good in lots of ways: I get to see the pictures there and then and I can tidy up the exposure without the use of chemicals and red light bulbs. No moving parts, unless you count my finger.

So why does everyone's digital camera go clunk?


Anonymous said...

One of those mysteries of the universe. But a right bugger if you're trying to take a sneaky shot of a nervous bird!

Pat said...

One of my favourite photographers - Neil Nimmo, used a big square box thing on a stand and he would bend over it and all you could see was this shiny bald pate.
You had to be there.

savannah said...

so that people know when a pic is being taken? there really is no reason for any sound to be made. xoxox

lisleman said...

I can turn the sound off on my camera but people (older non-digital experienced) expect to hear something so it there for feedback.

Unless you meant "clunk" as in broken. Then that happens so the company can sell you the newer model.

I combination of the internet and digital cameras is changing our world.

Lulu LaBonne said...

I'm trying to turn my clunk off so I can go private detective

Nota Bene said...

I hear Polaroids are making a comeback....that clunk, click or hiss is just reassuring isn't it?

Madame DeFarge said...

Mine does not go clunk. When I switch mine on, it sounds like the first notes of '(Gimme, Gimme, Gimme) A Man After Midnight' by ABBA. It's sad that I even know that.

Ellis Nadler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellis Nadler said...

clunk click, every pic

Kevin Musgrove said...

moreidelthoughts: this is what struck me, quite forcibly, the other day.

Pat: I always fancied having a go at a large format camera. There's a romance about them.

savannah: I suspect you're right, how else could the model know it's time to go home?

lisleman: I've yet to find a way of doing that on mine, more's the pity.

My old Zenit once made a serious clunking noise when I accidentally dropped it off a cliff I was climbing (I don't do mountaineering, I was just taking a short cut). Forty feet later I discovered that it was still mechanically sound but there was a chip in the front of the lens where it had met a sharp edge of one or other boulder. Both camera and lens remained serviceable for another seven years.

Lulu; dear heart, you could never turn your clunk off.

nota: a quiet, business-like swoosh would suffice for me.

Madame DeF: how terrifying!

Ellis: I theng you!