I’ve recently been in a number of situations where I was hassled, bothered, interfered with, and made to feel like a monster because I was carrying a “professional looking camera.”
I own and use Micro 4/3 cameras as well as a variety of other camera formats. My Canon 1DX is my mainstay for pro work. It’s the best camera I’ve ever owned. But when I carry the 1DX with a long lens, flash, flash modifiers, it’s like I’m wearing a sign that says
“Hey why don’t you mindlessly bother me because I have a big camera.”
So I did an experiment. I took my 1DX with 70-200 F/2.8 lens to City Center in Las Vegas and started shooting random images and portraits. In less than five minutes I was circled by half a dozen of Paul Blart Mall Cop’s brothers – all of them informed me that I couldn’t shoot there without a “permit” from PR. One even promised to report me to Homeland Security. (Bet that makes you all feel safer.)
Meanwhile I observed more than a dozen people shooting with high-end compact cameras. They weren’t bothered by anyone. So I guess it’s a problem if your camera “looks professional.” But if it IS professional – and doesn’t appear to be of professional caliber -you’re not a threat. I wonder if it hurts to be that stupid?
Seeing this behavior I went back with a new plan. I returned a week later to the same location with my Olympus EP-3 and flash. You guessed it. Nobody said a word to me. Not a peep.
The so-called security people had no real valid interest in stopping me from making pictures with either camera. They also proved they know absolutely nothing about photography. If their concern is that I not profit from the images they should stop ALL photography. Of course they can’t do that so, this is where Micro 4/3s cameras come in.
There are plenty of advantages to shooting M4/3 as my pal Trey Ratcliff has pointed out on his site – STUCKINCUSTOMS.COM. Whether or not you agree with Trey’s argument, there’s no denying that “civilians” feel more comfortable when they are around photographers who don’t appear to be using “pro gear.”
I’ve seen evidence of this in many situations but now, having experienced it several times within the course of a week – it has me re-thinking my position on M4/3. I will start using it in a variety of situations where my 1DX used to go, but isn’t really necessary.
So far, I’m leaning toward a total switch. I’ve seen incredible quality from the OMD and the top-of-the-line Oly glass. I am retiring from assignment shooting in less than a year so I won’t really need a big fancy camera system. Even if I wasn’t, the OMD images I am getting at 10 FPS on fast lenses which weigh mere ounces have me examining all options. Anyone want to buy a 1DX?