The Courageous Quest For The Invisible Camera

Out there, somewhere, there’s an invisible camera waiting for you.

It may not be the only invisible camera in the world. In fact it certainly isn’t.

But it’s a camera that when you pick it up, hold it, and squeeze the shutter button, feels as comfortable and instinctive as a favourite old pair of shoes, those cosy joggers you only wear at home in the winter, or the scent of a lover’s neck.

Invisible Camera

When using an invisible camera, you forget you’re using a camera at all.

Your eyes are looking for compositions that are interesting, intriguing, exciting, beautiful.

And when you find them, you simple raise your hand, squeeze with your finger and capture the moment.

You’re not fiddling with buttons or dials or settings because you already know how you want your camera to make the picture.

You’re not struggling to remember where functions or modes are because the few you actually use are already set up how you need them.

You’re not zooming in and out or fumbling around in a bag for a different lens because you’ve already decided which focal length you’re using today, and your eyes and mind and heart are committed to finding the compositions that fit that lens best.

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Here’s the best part. You very likely already own an invisible camera.

Just you’ve been messing around with frustratingly all too visible, awkward, flawed and distracting ones for so long you’ve forgotten about it.

Better still, even if you don’t think you have an invisible camera, you have one that comes very close.

So close that all it will take is a few weeks and a few hundred shots side by side with your soon to be transparent companion to make that connection, that transcendence, complete.

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It’ll take bravery, dedication, and commitment. But I know you can do it. And we both know the rewards are worth it.

What’s your invisible camera called?

Please share with us in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

36 thoughts on “The Courageous Quest For The Invisible Camera”

  1. The more pictures I take, the more I realise that it’s probably the Nikon A300 that I began with a year ago! 35mm wise (though I sometimes really enjoy the engagement of an SLR or older, manual camera) I think it’s my Olympus Mju iii. Both are simple and unintrusive.

    1. I confess I’m in a similar position. The Nikon Coolpix I bought in autumn 2011 and used heavily for about seven months is not dissimilar to the Ricohs I’ve been favouring lately. The Ricohs are much more controllable and preferable to use, but the overall type of camera and the final image are pretty similar. With the Nikon I even used its on board “High Contrast Monochrome” mode and did zero post processing…

      1. Mine’s a Coolpix too. I really like the one you had that you posted about. High contrast monochrome is how I shoot it most of the time. Or at ISO 400 with saturation turned down to zero. Great little cameras.

    1. It’s that old dilemma, should I stick with what I have because it’s plenty good enough, or do I keep looking for something that might be a bit better… I could still be using my CoolPix and getting pretty similar photographs to what I can take with my Ricohs.

  2. Actually I’d say my iPhone SE is pretty close to an ideal unobtrusive camera too. I couldn’t use it solely I don’t think, my cameras do things that the phone doesn’t, but it’s simple and always there. Some of my favourite pics were taken on this or other iPhones.

    1. Well funny you should mention this Richard. I was out for a walk the other day in the local woods with the family, with no intention of photography. But we found an old bicycle hanging in a tree and I had to take a picture or two. Out came the iPhone. With the Hipstamatic favourite I have set for it (for b/w) and shooting at 3:2 which Hipstamatic lets you adjust easily too, the final image again was pretty much as good as I could have got with the Ricohs. And the iPhone is super convenient and always with me. Just again comes down to the fact the the Ricohs are such a pleasure to use, whereas the iPhone is really just a tool, it doesn’t bring me that much pleasure purely from using it, even if the final images do.

      1. I haven’t tried Hipstamatic yet but your feedback is very positive. I’ve not been too keen on the thrid-party photo apps (VSCO and Snapseed, mainly) that I’ve tried as they seem to complicate things. I like to take the pictures on my phone and delete any that are no good. Opening Google Photos uploads them automatically and then I make any teaks in that app. Those changes are automatically saved to my iPhone photo stream too. Simpler than it looks when written down!

      2. Richard, what I like about Hipstamatic now I’m using it more (and other apps may well do this too), is I set up a few favourites on the iPad version, where everything is easily visible. Including one for b/w photos taken with my iPhone.

        By having both iPad and iPhone synced via iCloud for Hipstamatic, the same set of favourites now appear on the iPhone version of the app. So when out shooting with the iPhone, I’m just leaving it on the b/w iPhone favourite I’ve set up and 3:2 aspect ratio by default in Hipstamatic. Which means zero processing after…

        The only part that’s not as good as, say, shooting b/w with the Ricohs or Coolpix is you don’t have a live view with the favourite applied, you only see it once the photo is taken (but a standard version is also saved, should you wish to do something different with it).

        But this aside, it makes the iPhone an even more viable option for me. I have a more in depth post about this coming up…

  3. I have loads of cameras of many formats…but I have to say I still pick up the Pentax me super more than others.

    1. Peggy, no arguments from about pretty much any Pentax film camera from around the late 60s to the late 70s!

      Have you ever had a Contax 139? It’s probably the only camera I’ve used I would say I like even more than the Pentax ME series…

  4. The invisible camera concept is absolutely right though I prefer to call it the feel-good-camera.

    For me, in diminishing feel-good order between my three remaining cameras they are my Olympus XA2, the Spotmatic SP (with 55mm only) and last but not least the Leica IIIa. I’d love to see the Leica higher on the list but honestly it’s much more involved with squinty viewfinder, accessory finder, focus and compose window and sometimes this spoils the fun a bit.

    I’ll mention the iPhone SE last. The results are great – I use the stock Camera app, set to black and white NOIR setting and square format. Square so I don’t have to fiddle with this ungainly thing too much. And this spoils the fun for me… handling! It’s a phone, a computer but not a camera!

    1. Frank I think there are probably two aspects here. One is finding a camera that is basic enough and doesn’t have a plethora of frills and functions that you never use and just get in the way. The second is that a basic camera isn’t necessarily an easy to use camera, which sounds a bit like your Leica. So you need something that is well designed and intuitive to use. So a Zenit B might be more basic than a Spotmatic F, but the Spotmatic I find much easier to use because it’s more intuitive and more refined.

      Finding the best balance of these two aspects might lead us to our invisible camera.

      My Ricoh digital compacts are very capable and have a great depth of functions, but the crucial point is they can be set up so they’re actually very simple to use and you really need use the on switch and the shutter button 95% of the time.

      1. I guess if one day I find a digital camera that gives me the simplicity and ease (and limitations) I need to make photos I care about, I’d gladly go digital.

        But as funds are limited I can’t really try them all out….

        1. I can’t think what I’d recommend to you Frank… I only really use my Ricoh GRD III and GX100. Oh, hang on! : )

          (Don’t tell anyone but after selling a bunch of redundant stuff in the last couple of weeks, I’ve invested in a new (to me) digital I’ve been curious about for some time… It might interest you too, look out for a field report in the coming weeks…)

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