Why photographers are hiding their Leica logo with tape

May 10, 2017

Nicholas Goodden

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

Why photographers are hiding their Leica logo with tape

May 10, 2017

Nicholas Goodden

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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We live in a terrifying world and the news tell us: just about anything out there is out to get us.

Fear is HOT right now.

So talking about being safe… Does hiding the Leica logo with tape actually serve a purpose?

What is the purpose of this strange behaviour?

Is it possible that one idiot did it and it just caught on?

Could it be that by trying to draw less attention, Leica users may actually be screaming “I’m here look at me and my anti-Leica Leica”.

When I posted my honest though slightly puzzled opinion on Twitter about this practice, I received many replies which may help us understand the psyche behind the behaviour:

One Twitter follower actually worried me for a minute:

“It’s necessary these days. Scumbags are everywhere and will take anything. I’d do it if I had a Leica.”

Sounds bloody terrifying. Scumbags hey!

Another follower replied in a voice which sounded like the whole Leica black tape community was behind him:

“We tape our Leica’s to downplay expensive camera please steal me”

To which I replied:

“Nah a guy who steals Leicas knows a Leica with or without dot. I think”

To which he then replied:

“Thieves only steal what they recognize they can sell. Leicas covered in black tape look like a point and shoot. Not worth stealing.”

Right so first of all, the only person you’re fooling is yourself, and that’s very sad.

And let’s think about this for a minute (forgetting he just pooped all over the work of a long line of Leica designers).

It’s about the equivalent of stating that if you hide the Apple logo with grey tape you can’t recognise a MacBook.


Seriously weird practice.

Plus it makes your Leica look uglier than it needs to.

A bit like driving a Porsche and removing the logo. What purpose does it serve? Especially black tape SUCKS ASS in the design / slick looking department.

Frankly if you get mugged it’s not because of the dot, it’s because you probably aren’t very streetwise and possibly look like a clueless tourist and no amount of black tape can hide that… trust me.

To end this I’ll mention a dude I saw on the street the other day who took this to the next level.

He’d put black tape on his Sony camera’s logo.

Let’s pray it’s not contagious because I’m truly shitting myself.

About the Author

Nicholas Goodden is a professional London photographer specialized in creating exciting visual content for global brands. If you’d like to see more of his work, visit his website, follow him on Instagram and Twitter, and like his Facebook page. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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53 responses to “Why photographers are hiding their Leica logo with tape”

  1. Low Hanging Fruit Avatar
    Low Hanging Fruit

    I just don’t like the red dot, so I bought a camera without one. A used Leica M-P type 240.

    I also have just bought a beaten up Leica T, and covered the red dot and the top plate logo with black insulating tape… On my beater, the tape looks better than the Leica logo.

    I have been buying Leica cameras for around 20 years now…

    I like their cameras, but I don’t like their logo…

    Nothing to do with muggers, or looking rich, cos I ain’t.

    And maybe the bloke with the Sony did the same…

    Not all of us are obsessed with the brand in the way that the brand thinks we are…

    Believe me, if a brand starts to make and sell rubbish, its advocates soon clear the room.

    1. Roy Bridgewood Avatar
      Roy Bridgewood

      I cover all my kit logos with tape unless I am A: actively promiting a brand B: been given either kit ir sufficient discount to be seen as activel promoting a brand

      1. Low Hanging Fruit Avatar
        Low Hanging Fruit

        Yes… The brands have performed one of the best tricks haven’t they?

        They have actually managed to get people to pay for their advertising… Who isn’t an occasional Harrods bag flaunter?

        In the case of the ghastly Leica “red dot” which seems to have first appeared following the move to Canada, and since then, seems to be inflicted… It just isn’t a nice design.

        I mean why would a company charge £300 to remove their logo? It can’t really be worth that much per unit, but that is the price supplement of the “P” version of their M cameras.

        1. Tom Jakob Brablec Avatar
          Tom Jakob Brablec

          I really don’t see the logic behind your comment, to be honest. Yes, brands put logos on their products, how is that trickery, when people actually want to show that logo? People want to show they own a Leica, or Nike shoes, or a damn Louis Vuitton bag. Hell, some brands have this “god- status,” they don’t even need the logo to be recognizable. Look at Burberry or Gucci, you can tell the brand just by the pattern. That’s where the car design applies – taking a logo off won’t unbrand it.

          Here’s an example: have you see the video of (I want to say Russian) thieves that distract a photographer with a map and steal his lens without him even noticing? Guys like that can probably tell the value of what they’re stealing, and differentiate a Leica from a Fuji. But sure, a thief can easily mistake an old, nearly worthless Yashica for a Leica. In the case of DSLRs, however, the rule of “the larger the more valuable” applies. Yet, if they’re stealing your camera and have experience in pickpocketing or snatching purses/cameras, I don’t see why they would care whether they hit a gold mine with a Leica grab or a Fuji that still sells for a couple of hundred bucks, if they’re confident they can get away.

          1. Low Hanging Fruit Avatar
            Low Hanging Fruit

            I did not say it was trickery sir…. I said it was “one of the best tricks”…

            It is a trick, a very clever trick, to influence your customers in such a way that you can expand your brand for free, by clever use of the company logo. Brand recognition. Normally, it costs a fortune to get that brand noticed… Billboards, television and cinema ads, consumer shows and advice… None of it is free, but getting customers to flaunt your logo… Priceless!

            Yes it has always been business practise, but it is a fairly recent phenomenon for punters to buy a particular good, not because it is good, although it might be, but because it sports a particular logo… It wasn’t like that in the 1960’s, but through the following years, this has become ubiquitous.

  2. Adrian Gordon Avatar
    Adrian Gordon

    I’ve never.

    Seen anyone.

    Do this before.

    Or write an article.

    With quite so much double spacing.

  3. Michael Land Avatar
    Michael Land

    Yeah, if someone wants to steal a Leica, he’s going to know what a Leica looks like. In fact, he’ll probably get a good chuckle out of your attempt to tape over the logo.

  4. Dylan Robertson Avatar
    Dylan Robertson

    It’s nothing new. People are covering all type of logos in black tape or sharpie. I honestly think it makes sense. I’ve only seen it done on Canons and Sony’s. Also I think you’re over-exaggerating the knowledge of average consumer or potential thieves. I don’t think most people under 30 have any idea what a Leica or any high end camera is in the first place. They’re more likely to try to pick up a familiar brand item; Canon, Nikon, Sony, Apple, Samsung, etc that has a higher public demand.

  5. David Hovie Avatar
    David Hovie

    I even tape my front glas elements so thieves don’t take my lens serious.

    If I visit dangerous parts of some countries I sometimes tape the shutter button too, just to be safe.

  6. g_disqus Avatar

    I hide the logo of any camera – for other photographers (then they no need to retouch logos). And I guess it is useful when you shoot some surfaces with mirror effect (white logo looks very bright on black body in reflection).

  7. John Thorburn Avatar
    John Thorburn

    People who buy Leicas and who are obviously worried about having them stolen, take measures to protect their property and someone calls them idiots? Mate, have you got fuck all truly worth writing about?

  8. Kevin Blackburn Avatar
    Kevin Blackburn

    Pros have done this for years regardless if it was Lica Canon Nikon etc etc. especially when traveling abroad . Unfortunately not a new or Lica eccentric practice to try and protect our gear

  9. David Hennes Avatar
    David Hennes

    Just go shoot with Nikon and Canon shooter around you. They will get mugged first.

  10. mike r Avatar
    mike r

    It’s a common practice to cover logos or model numbers with gaffer tape. Hell, some photographers even go so far as to do up their cameras to make them look as ragged and ratchet as possible (without actually damaging them, of course). This is hardly new and hardly limited to Leica owners, they just seem to be in the spotlight lately.

  11. CC Wright Avatar
    CC Wright

    Leicas look like vivitars or something covered up. You guys don’t look at enough novelty cameras.

  12. Wayne Carey Avatar
    Wayne Carey

    Makes sense and if you are photographing in a known area that’s considered a rough part of town or a tourists trap, it’s always a good idea to use a piece of gaffers tape to block your camera logo. Pros do this all of the time.

    1. Chris Cameron Avatar
      Chris Cameron

      Real pros use camera tape :)

  13. Chris Robertsson Avatar
    Chris Robertsson

    Logos are made to be highly visible… anything highly visible will be easier to spot by a persons peripheral vision and of cause in direct line of sight.

    Pros cover up the camera to make it stealthier and thus less easy to spot, not to make it less attractive for thieves.

  14. Achile Dongonogo Avatar
    Achile Dongonogo

    They hide it because they are ashamed to have jewelry as a camera !!

  15. Gordon Smith Avatar
    Gordon Smith

    Friend does it. I don’t get it. All the people in the article comments put way too much time into thinking about these things.
    Just hold onto your camera. Done.

  16. Yaniv Glozman Avatar
    Yaniv Glozman

    “Is it possible that one idiot did it and it just caught on?”
    (I think it started from covering the classic silver camera body with somthing dark and less noticeable)

  17. Vasco Silva Avatar
    Vasco Silva

    Since the article doesn’t answer the question in the title, I’ll do that for you: because they want and can do it. Yours and others opinion on the matter is completely irrelevant.

  18. Damir Perisa Avatar
    Damir Perisa

    Stop going against leica shooters. They got these cameras and now have to live with no autofocus, bad iso performance and good build quality. Remember, the best camera is the one you have with you right now. I am quite sure the phone most of the people reading this message on is a worse camera compared to a leica of any kind. Be respectful to the less lucky, rich photographers! Good light and photos! ???

  19. catlett Avatar

    Welcome to 30 or so years ago when people started doing this with Leica, Nikon and Canon. What is the next article … serious photographers who don’t want to look like tourists and advertise their equipment change the strap as soon as they get a new camera?

  20. Stereo Reverb Avatar
    Stereo Reverb

    Though the author seems to be of the opinion that he’d rather show/brag to the world that he’s using a pretty and expensive camera, it’s called using caution. The more cautious you are, the less likely your camera will catch the attention of a potential thief- an ounce of caution, right?

    Author- using your logic, do you take your money out of your wallet and count it in public or on the subway in front of everyone? People are going to steal it anyways since they know you and everybody else walks around with money.

    I don’t care what my camera looks like, all i care about is that it’s safe, as well as my own safety. (And so you know, the first thing i did when i got my 5d4 was cover every identifiable marking with black gaff tape, including the red ring on the L lenses).

    Btw, this was a terrible article.

  21. MBH Avatar

    Logo-hiding, especially of Leica’s eye-catching red spot, is hardly a new phenomenon.
    The habit, especially in dangerous situations, has been in play almost since Leica adopted its signature dot; another use for Gaffer’s tape or the odd snip of electrical wrap.

  22. Duane Emmerson Avatar
    Duane Emmerson

    Seriously, if you don’t want your leica stolen, get yourself a cheaper camera for when the need arises. Leave the leica at home.

    1. Thomas James Killmess Avatar
      Thomas James Killmess

      You don’t buy a nice car to leave it forever on the garage fearing of it being stolen or crashed, you buy a car to use it.

  23. Mike S. Avatar
    Mike S.

    This article is horrible. First, it looks like it was copied entirely from a Twitter feed then pasted here. Besides that it just makes little/no sense. To suggest a Leica camera, from a design perspective, is as distinguishing as a Porsche is asinine. A Leica’s design isn’t so unique that anyone can tell them apart from, say, a Fuji. That’s like saying anyone can recognize Christian Loutoutin shoes without seeing the red bottoms, I know I can’t..

  24. Matthew Giezentaner Avatar
    Matthew Giezentaner

    Thats victim blaming! That leica should be able to wear whatever it wants and feel safe!

  25. Dominique Karg Avatar
    Dominique Karg

    Author sounds like a nice chap *chuckle*. I do the taping because I don’t want people to approach me to small talk about my camera. It is easier for someone to randomly chat you up for a big red dot or the huge LEICA label than a piece of black tape. And since the camera is mine, I can do whatever the hell I want with it, be it put a my little pony sticker on the lens or throw it from a cliff. Having someone write a rant about it and being fooled into reading that piece of shit writing by an otherwise good source of information like DIYPhotography is a disappointment. I wonder what made you run this poorly written piece of opinion.

  26. Matt Avatar

    Ridiculous and ignorant article.

  27. Hans Christian Koch Avatar
    Hans Christian Koch

    The funny thing is that I’ve always plastered my cameras with tape, independent of brand. I’ve covered every logo, brandname and model number for one simple reason; They don’t matter and I was tired of meeting people who would go ‘Ohh… You shoot [brand-x]. Well, I shoot [brand-y] which renders colours much better than [brand-x]!’.
    After I taped my camera up, all that stopped and people go back to looking at your photos instead of at what brand you use! Win!

  28. Mike McIntire Avatar
    Mike McIntire

    I have the oldest, nastiest, nikon d200 strap on my d750. People assume by the strap it’s a d200 and I don’t get nearly the attention I did when I had current straps. One could argue I should use an aftermarket strap, but saying “hey, look. I have a wicked old camera now over my shoulder” seems to almost work better as it also sends the message I don’t care enough to invest in an expensive strap…

    1. g_disqus Avatar

      Interesting… I use strap of very old Zenit E. I guess people don’t respond like for old camera.

  29. bokeh Avatar

    …the ONLY reason Leica shooters cover the red dot is to inhibit your subject from staring at the red dot. Any other ‘explanation’ is based on moronic hear say. As far as dissuading thief’s – as a war correspondent told me when he was cornered by armed thugs, the Leica’s solid brass construction makes for a first rate attitude adjuster unmatched by any other tool a photojournalist’s would likely have.

    1. Carl Merkin Avatar
      Carl Merkin

      A Leica to the forehead will hurt the head a lot more than the camera.

  30. mistemoon Avatar

    ahahhahhahahhahhahhahahhahhahhahahhahahhahahha It looks like a guy who dreams of having a leica but does not and jealous those who hide the brand he dreams, It’s more stylish without the red marcketing pastille. Leica M-P

    1. Nick Avatar

      I have taped my Sony a7rII, my M9 and M10. Not to deter thieves or because I’m a snob but because I find the logo or branding draw a bit mor attention. There is something a less intimidating about a taped up camera. Looks almost home made. When shooting street photography I want to be as low key as possible.

  31. Serch Kar Avatar
    Serch Kar

    In dangerous countries, it is an actual necessity. Expensive equipment including high-cost cameras can be easily recognized with logos, and stolen using brute force. It is completely understandable.
    I´ve been to the US and they do not seem to get it neither. Perhaps you should put the shoes of the other people.

  32. Chung Siu Sun Avatar
    Chung Siu Sun

    Bullshit on the stealing concern.
    If you are asking how James Nachtwey protected his instruments from warzone thieves?

    Like that I did the taping on my Fuji XPro2, Leica M, on the street it will not catch eye-contact too much or long. That people will give a glance and go back to their living without staring at my instrument for branding.

    This is the actual advantage in street photography.

    Unless I am in a photographer conference, the chance I’ve met a guy whole will keep staring at my Leica M is 5% (also depends on districts).

  33. Marco Lorenzo Avatar
    Marco Lorenzo

    If I was a thieve, I certainly won’t recognise a Leica if the logo was covered and I am a photographer who knows their value. This article was obviously written by someone who has no idea what the world outside his little bubble is like.
    And FYI, there are so many windows laptops these days that look like Macbooks, covering the Apple logo may confuse some people.

  34. Caleb Kerr Avatar
    Caleb Kerr

    As an avid photographer, I couldn’t possibly identify a debranded Leica. And saying it is disrespectful to a long line of Leica designers just indicates that the author really is more worried about the street cred they get from having a Leica. I’m pretty sure Leica doesn’t give a shit what you with your camera.

  35. Brian Menin Avatar
    Brian Menin

    I’ve found that when I cover my camera logo and model designation, I get less people trying to talk about cameras while I’m photographing an event. It’s never been because I thought someone might try to steal it.

    1. Sam B. Avatar
      Sam B.

      Exactly this ^ is why I covered the red dots on mine. Nothing more distracting than some clown coming up to me while I’m shooting trying to start a conversation about my camera, and without fail, it always turns out to be some know-it-all dooshbag, typically with a N. or C. and a 70-200 zoom hanging from his neck.

  36. Nick Avatar

    There are generally 2 kinds of thieves 1) the opportunistic thief who sees a chance and takes it and 2) the pro who targets a specific victim. In case 1) wether you have a 7-10k camera or a £7 camera (I wish I knew where to get one of those :-)) is irrelevant as is taping it, so unless you are vigilant you at screwed. In case 2) the thief knows where you live and what you’re carrying, the camera is very relevant but the tape is not since he knows what you’re carrying and you are screwed.
    I tape for discretion, I find that for some odd reason, people are less intimidated by a more discrete camera.
    In any case we are all spending far too much time posting when we should all be out there taking pictures.
    Have fun!

  37. KC Avatar

    I haven’t seen a camera covered with tape in a long time, maybe the 70’s or 80’s. If you had a black camera it kept it from “brassing” (paint wearing off). Maybe it added a little protection. Sometimes, rarely, to “disguise” the camera make (which was all over the lens, anyway). I think some of it was “I saw a pro do it and I want to look like a pro”. We’d black out a camera if “shiny bits” showed in reflections of a subject.

    But….it’s hard to disguise a Leica M series when there are so few rangefinders out there.

  38. Ben Arou Avatar
    Ben Arou

    I have had Leica cameras on and off at least since 1980’s and nowadays I tape them for all the obvious reasons which the article is ignorant about but also because I am already overpaying for the product, now I am responsible to be their advertising billboard too? And yes companies count on us buying their product out of brand obsession rather than real value and sense.

  39. Nick Avatar

    One major omission – the fact Leica does it themselves as witnessed in the M240 – P.

  40. Jan Christi Avatar
    Jan Christi

    The human being has developed a problem. There are those that will proudly hang a huge camera with an obscenely large lens on it while walking in towns? Not only that but the rig will have all the garish straps and additions that advertise the make. That’s basically free advertising for the manufacturers. I guess it’s kind of like tooling around in a top of the range Aston Martin on a cold day with the top down. Bluntly speaking, it looks great, but for me, it is more than slightly embarrassing. I was always embarrassed when in the late sixties I was using a very new Nikon F photomic FTN (the name is embarrassing). My brother soon cured me when I lent it to him for his African honeymoon and it came back looking as if it had been on a couple of tours in Vietnam. He had one of my lenses stolen when a local reached out pressed the lens release and twisted off the lens, before running off into the distance like Kip Kano.
    I have owned many cameras, from Rolleiflex, Yashicaflex, Hasselblad and despite being very good, they could never be described as discrete. I saw a guy once with the huge Canon camera with the chunky lens was taking candid photos in the town. Nice bokeh and all that but so flat and lifeless (IMHO).
    Henry Cartier Bresson (my favourite photographer) used a very compact camera that was discrete and would whip it out and take a shot immediately. No long lens, no monopod, no worries.
    I hate to say it, but there is a part of human nature that wants to say…hey, look what I’ve got…top of the range…mega expensive…highly professional and doesn’t it make me look like a professional photographer!!! We look at him and whisper…dickhead under our breaths. We are also thinking he’s going to get that nicked!
    I now use a very discrete Leica digital camera for candid shots and a Panasonic DMC-GX8 with Leica lenses and image stabilisation (no monopod). However, these new MFT (micro 4/3) mirrorless cameras look very much like a top of the range Leica and can draw the attention of a few low-lifes. The camera has an ‘L’ on the front very similar to the Leica ‘L’ and Panasonic’s collaboration with Leica means sharing electronic enginuity and lens superiority. Now, I have a dilemma, the ‘prick’ in me (ego flaw) is embarrassed by the Lumix name (not up there with Canon, Nikon, Olympus) so I cover this up. I don’t use gaffer tape because to me that’s like using sun glasses on a cloudy day and pretending to avoid the paparazzi. So I use a small self-adhesive gadget designed for closing the camera lens on a laptop computer. The Lumix then looks like an old viewfinder camera like the Zeiss Ikon. I have an eveready case for it (brown) that keeps it low-key (and dry). It is taken for a really old film camera, probably still nickable, but only draws curiosity from other photographers, never a sneer, or sucking of teeth. Should I put a Leica button on it…why not as that’s often what they think it is? I never correct their ignorance as I know envy when I see it. Then, should I hide the Leica button under gaffer tape, just in case…please!!! I just keep it very close to my side. Since it too, uses a bayonet mount, I am tempted to see if there is a way of disguising the lock button in case Kip Kano runs past. Oh god I hate paranoia. Where’s my iPad gone…its got all my photos on it???

  41. Arthur Sebesteny Avatar
    Arthur Sebesteny

    There is no REAL reason. There are many, But nobody has talked about these, so I’d like to point out a few others, why photographers might like to tape the logo and the M on their Leica’s:

    1. I personally like the look of the tape. Makes the camera & thus the person look like they are working more professionally, not just to de-brand the camera, but to have a sense of “rugged” look, which it definitely adds. Kind of like a book full of scribbles or sticky notes hanging out.
    2. Another thought some photographers might have: “I wish I could afford the more expensive “p” version, but I can’t so I use gaffer tape to even further simplify the camera.”
    3. I totally agree with the article, it’s silly in a way, but it’s like a fashion trend or actually like on a custom “cafe racer” type motorcycles the “X” tape on the headlight. Yes, it has the function to not leave shattered glass all over if there is an accident, but really it’s more about the optical look and feel. Same with the leica: saying that it is so, to prevent theft, yes sure, but really 99% of the people who own one will not use it professionally in a dangerous or theft prone environment. They are well educated and live in places where theft is usually not a problem or have an “Oberwerth” camera bag for 600€ to safely store it in those situations.

    Just my opinion.

  42. buonnguqua Avatar

    I taped my leica M10 and even Ricoh GR2 , I just want the “clean” black stuffs. These logos are annoying.