So the reason I want to do this is not even for security , but the places I visit have been anti professional camera. For example, they don't let you use a tripod ( they call them camera stands ) This is in places controlled by the archaeological dept of India . Getting permits is possible but they tend to never process the applications.
At the Taj Mahal, they won't even let you bring in a tiny flex tripod.
Some places want 'Baksheesh' , a bribe, to let you bring in the camera.
I've seen a guy with a camera backpack get the shakedown, while all these tourists walk right past, with no backpack, but Nikon D3 around the neck.
This problem seems to be an India only thing.
I promise to post pictures of my funky rig BTW. Probably going with fake 1960's wood grain look, with some worn spots to age it down, and old stickers.
I don' think a normal backpack would be a problem, it's when you take it out and start to focus your lens that you're going to attract attention. Better idea is misdirection- have your friend or assistant (if you have one) dressed to fit the bill and when you need to take pics have him pull out his DSLR with a 200mm lens on it far away from you. Hopefully he can distract them long enough bartering for you to get your shots.
And whatever you do, don't ride the trains with it...cattle cars. I was in Mumbai.
I guess black corrugated and shiny is going to be one beacon to attract the muggers and the curious masses if crowded environments are part of your plan. The lens will be another dead giveaway. There's not much to be done about the camera except to remove anything with a big red logo on it. A camera is a camera, old or new and will attract some attention.
At best, you might disguise the camera with some stick-on grubby brown leatherette which will peel in the heat or maybe some brown hat felt to look like an old box brownie or mutant speed graphic but you will still set off a curiosity factor. Even the most blunt and broke looking scruff may be carrying a DSLR or lookalike these days.
My bet would be on covering over as much black and shiny as you can, lose the entire grille and RED logo off the front under the lens. Replace the grille with a piece of pale-coloured insect screen to hide the fan. All unused sockets to be covered over.
Customise a scungey-looking leather strap carry handle for the top. Maybe have a flap to cover over the top vent when carrying by the handle between shots. Out of the general eyeline in a crowd, it will look more like a shopping bag until your swing it up for your shot. Maybe for security, also carry the camera by the handle when carrying in a handled shopping or souvenir bag.
A zoom lens sticking out in front will be a giveaway in a crowded environment. An old 42mm Nikon f2.8 or newer Voightlander 40mm f2 might be your best friend for a retro disguise when you want to be as incognito as possible. They look old-school as they are both pancake-style lenses but are also very short, small and do not stick out far in front. They are black and shiny but look cheap with small glass in the front of them. When operating, your hand will mostly cover them up.
ND3, ND6 gels for behind the lens if you want selective focus in bright light. Maybe screw-in filters for the front of the lenses. Although these will make the lenses look more modern they will remain short and they will protect from hardparticle dust. That may not be such a bad thing as too retro will also attract attention.
I don't know how you are going to deal with infrared which I expect may be an issue in India except perhaps to stay out of the midday sun. Maybe you can get an optical tech to cut down a piece off a Tru-Cut for you or get Schneider to make you a custom piece of Tru-Cut/ND3 for behind the lens and a little frame to keep it off the lens rear element. This will require you to reset backfocus and hopefully there will be enough range and no internal reflections.
If you get bailed up by some opportunist or uncomfortably curious, maybe point to the uncovered fan and tell them you built it yourself out of an Xbox computer and have a gameboy sequence to play back for them - just kidding here.
I think much may also depend on the way you move about as the gear you carry around. Do things at the pace of the locals or the other tourists so that peripheral vision does not pick up something novel or unusual to home in on and do not tarry one place too long. I can only speak for eastern provinces of Indonesia, not India where things may be a lot different.
Take heed of the more expereinced others who comment here.
Last edited by Robert Hart; 02-03-2013 at 09:07 PM. Reason: error
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It's a specific problem in India. I'm used to them staring at me, that does not bother me much. And I feel safer in India than walking around in many places here in LA .
Spent plenty of time in India. Never had a problem wandering around with a Sony Z5 or a Canon D1.
ALSO... the Indian security guys are very well trained and anything electronic covered in gaffer tape or quickly whipped out of a paper bag will scream IED to them and you'll end up on a terrorist charge or WORSE... Don't be a fool, seriously.....
At worst, you'll get a few lookers... Just say you're a Bollywood scout and the seas will part for you.....
Good luck.. Call your loved ones regularly if you decide to go down the paper bag route....
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