DIY ‘blimp’ case makes Nikon D800 silent and waterproof for $80










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So-called ‘blimp’ cases are designed to greatly reduce the sound of a camera’s shutter, making it safe to take record shots during filming for TV and movies. Typically, commercial blimp cases cost upwards of $1000, but pro photographer Dan Tabár made his own using a Pelican case, some ABS pipe fittings, a wireless shutter release, and other simple parts sourced at a hardware store, for around $80. 

The materials that Tabár used to create his homemade blimp case are pretty inexpensive, and mostly sourced from local photo and hardware stores. 

As well as soundproofing his Nikon D800, Tabar’s case also renders the camera waterproof. By building space inside for a wireless trigger, Tabar trips the camera’s shutter externally, removing the need to drill a hole in the case for a remote release, or shutter doubler. Images can be composed and reviewed through a window in the rear of the case made of Lexan – a tough polycarbonate resin. Operation is full-auto though – unlike some dedicated weaterproof casings (and lightweight fabric blimp cases) there’s no way of adjusting exposure settings once the camera is sealed inside Tabár’s DIY case. 

Tabár printed a life-size picture of his D800 to act as a guide when fitting out the inside of the Pelican case to accept the real camera.  Tabár modified his sound blimp with Lexan, rather than glass for greater durability.

You can read about Tabár’s plan and execution building his waterproof sound blimp here and here. Here’s a demonstration of how well it muffles the sound of his Nikon D800’s shutter.

DIY sound blimp case demonstration





Comments


audijam

thsi is amazing!


Lensahand

My Panasonic GF-1 makes a heck of a noise when it takes a picture, and as a MFT camera surely that’s mirrorless? The shutter is very loud in that case..I wonder if any of the subsequent models or the Olympus ones are quieter?


micahmedia

I’ve tried this with the D700. It greatly reduces the mirror slap, but it’s not silent. Not quiet enough for a quiet set or quiet performance. I think the issue is the soft cushioning. The Nikon bodies resonate at a low frequency. Perhaps stiffer foam would mitigate this. I never got around to more experimenting, but the basic idea is good. Not perfect, but useful.


mrmut

Isn’t this a bit nonsensical? If a cheap camera is used OK; but this Nikon, neither the lens are cheap. To expensive professinal equipment into a field-untested homemade box that should protect the camera from impact and water?


LaFonte

I used x100 on a movie sets. Resolution was there and it is silent (only lack of zoom, but that may not be a problem in small sets)
But kudos to the pelican solution. I always enjoy a good DIY, definitely smart.


JDThomas

Just cross posted lower, but the X-Pro1 or the XE-1 is the ideal camera.


micahmedia

Ideal for…? With low resolution and slow focusing of the X-Pro or XE…it’s just too much time wasted on missed shots. No pro would stand for it. Amateurs, fine. Not pro.

When your paycheck and reputation rely on it, you need to get the shot the first time. That’s what a good DSLR can do, that a MILC can’t under all circumstances. At least that’s the case for the current crop of cameras. I expect this will change over time. But in the mean time, on big budget productions, blimps and DSLRs are the way.


wootpile

This is a nice build! Anyone who has worked on big movie sets knows that without a silent blimp you simply won’t get any work.

A V1 won’t cut it either – not enough resolution and high iso capability. try that once and you won’t get any more work from the film studios 🙂

Thanks to op for offering a alternative to commercial variants!


JDThomas

Fuji X-Pro1 with the 18-55 and 55-200. Perfect kit for shooting on set. And cheap.

Quieter than some professional blimps I heard on set. It’s great in low light, which is just a bonus because the scene is already lit well for the cine-camera.


Jonathan F/2

Snooze. I’ve already used the Nikon V1 on jobs that required complete silence. Works perfectly.


Stu 5

Not if you want decent quality. It is not good enough for movie sets.


wlad

spending $3000 on a camera and drowning it in a $80 DYI “water-proof” case.
Makes perfect sense.


wootpile

actually it makes perfect sense. it leaves 920 bucks to be spent on a nice lens. making one of these also means you know how to rig a makeshift solution if your “real stuff” breaks on a set.. “buy a new one..” um..right, so suppose you are shooting o a movie set in the desert

not everyone has unlimited funds these days – specially not if you are making a living as a photographer. I assume from your comment, that you are not 😉


wlad

exactly – most people are not that wealthy, to afford drowning a $3k camera when that case starts leaking.
Seriously, what kind of pressure can that case withstand ?

It’s most likely just “weather proof”, not “water proof”.


Johannes Zander

A Nikon V1/2 set to elektronic shutter would do the job and be much easier to operate. And you safe 80$.
Would like to see this cumbersome designe in action.


Stu 5

It is not good enough quality for a movie set plus electronic shutters have drawbacks.


SigmaChrome

If you really want a quiet DSLR, get a Sigma SD1M. The shutter sound and mirror slap noise is as soft as a baby sitting down. Nikon and Canon sound like the Crash of Doom by comparison.


wootpile

Yeah, but it can’t handle the low light on a movie set


Preternatural Stuff

What is it with writers nowadays. Its not the shutter sound that needs muffling!

Its the mirror slap – a dinosaur legacy of hte film era!

Even during the film era, we used rangefinder cameras for theatre productions that demanded it.

Today, if you want silent, any of the gazillion mirrorless or Sony SLT cameras are already inherently so.

Duh…


Michael Gunawan

nahhh, shutters also make annoying sounds. Leica M are famous for their quiet shutters


Thanatham Piriyakarnjanakul

Cost?


Dan Tabar

Every source of noise is suppressed, whether mirror, shutter or focusing mechanism.
Mirrorless is a way to go, but between that option of buying a whole new system, glass and batteries etc OR to spend less than a benjamin and a day’s work to make the full-blown, full-frame DSLR kit i’ve already invested in usable in quiet environments.. it made sense for me


Trollshavethebestcandy

Great for street photography 😉


peteshap

I take it mirrorless cameras still make shutter noise?


Mike Griffin

While it likely depends on the RF frequency and the conductivity of the water I doubt that triggering the shutter will be very effective when the camera in case is actually submerged in water.


Dan Tabar

You’re correct; it’s about a foot of range, but it’s enough since i just hold the trigger against the case anyway, as demonstrated in the video here: http://www.dantabar.com/underwater-test-of-the-diy-sound-blimp/


QuarterToDoom

Where’s the heat from the camera dissipated too?


Dan Tabar

This might be a legitimate issue if you’re shooting video.. haven’t tested that yet!


AndrewG NY

Seems this approach would work well with a camera with a reasonably full-featured wi-fi-connected smartphone remote control app.


Dan Tabar

Yup, for more control remotely, perhaps as a statically mounted soundproof camera view of a classical/opera concert stage, I’ve thought about sticking a CamRanger into the box and controlling it while seated in the audience! Just make sure the venue management knows that mystery box is a camera and not a bomb or something :S


Island Golfer

Oh yeah…I’ll be taking my $3,000 camera and $2,000 lens underwater in one of these homemade jobs.


Dan Tabar

I did, check the video! http://www.dantabar.com/underwater-test-of-the-diy-sound-blimp/


marike6

The D800 shutter is not nearly as loud as it sounds on the video but you can tell from the loud hiss of his video camera’s pre-amp that he has the gain turned way. So blam, blam, blam. It sounds like a car door slamming shut. It’s much quieter in real life.


Dan Tabar

Yeah I intentionally had the gain turned up and didn’t filter out the noise/hiss in post in order to make the comparison clearer between with and without the sound supression. Either way, the naked d800 (and any SLR, really) in real life is undeniably WAY too loud for shooting while sound is rolling on a film set


numberiv

While the D800 shutter is not noticeably louder than many other camera’s shutters at times it can be louder than appropriate depending on the situation. I recently ended up borrowing a 5D-III to document a contemporary music concert because I knew the D800 would disturb the audience – the quiet mode on the 5D is significantly quieter than the D800. Given the bulk of this blimp I’d really need the dynamic range and resolution of the D800 to choose it over a 5D.

On the waterproof front this solution seems useful, although with the air volume involved the case’s buoyancy could make submersion a challenge, but somewhere the camera is just getting splashed this would certainly do the trick.


CameraLabTester

Ummm… how much is a Pelican case, please?

It’s not everyday that someone wants to get rid of it for $20 on eBay…

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marike6

A Pelican 1150, the water tight one, is $29 at B&H. The next larger size is $39. Not too expensive and extremely useful.


hjaeger

He ordered one from B&H for $30. This is the link from the article http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/83166-REG/Pelican_1150_000_110_1150_Case_with_Foam.html

EDIT: I must have been typing too slowly 🙂


CameraLabTester

Cool thanks!

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Source Article from http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/07/09/diy-sound-blimp-makes-d800-waterproof-for-80-dollars