Why I Mark Off the Canon Logos on My Camera Gear

I had a few questions regarding why I mark off the Canon logos on my camera gear based on the video I posted earlier today with Marc Silber. I thought I’d explain that here in a new post.

In 2007 I had the tremendous honor of having my portrait taken by photographer Bill Wadman as part of his 365 Portraits series. Bill’s project involved shooting and posting in the same day a different portrait every day for an entire year. Bill is one of the best portrait photographers working in the business today, and in addition to my shot (which is probably my most favorite shot anyone’s ever taken of me) Bill shot a number of amazing people, including folks like astronaut Buzz Aldrin and CNN commentator Tucker Carlson. If you missed this series back in 2007 you should definitely check it out for some truly inspirational portrait work.

Anyways, when I met Bill I noticed that he had all the Canon logos on his gear taped off with black tape. I asked Bill why he did that and he said for two reasons, 1. Because he wanted to make his camera gear look less expensive (and hopefully less interesting to steal) and 2. Because, what had Canon ever done for him and why should he give them free advertising.

And so those are probably the exact same reasons why I do that now myself. I’ve had two Canon cameras stolen now — A 5D and a 10D. I know that some people will steal anything, but I think a big Canon or Nikon logo on your gear only makes it that much more of a target. By changing my Canon strap for a plain black one and taping off (with black electrical tape) all of the logos, hopefully this makes me and my camera less of a target. I taped off the red rings on my L series lenses where I could as well. I’d rather be incognito than look like the hot shot photographer.

Secondly I got kind of pissed at Canon over the whole release of the Canon 5D Mark 2 and especially felt after that why should I walk around every day advertising their product on my body. I shoot all the time and so that’s a lot of free advertising for them. I was pissed because I had such a hard time getting a hold of a 5D M2.

Originally I talked to Canon back in July of 2008 at the Microsoft Pro Photography Summit and asked if there was any way that I could get a review copy ahead of the release so that I could write a review on it. Not a free one mind you, just a loaner, like any other member of the press, that I could use to write a review in the same way that newspapers, magazines, and everyone else does. Canon told me that they didn’t do that sort of thing which was fine I guess. Although I’m pretty sure that some people got them based on the early reviews and press on the product.

So I did the next best thing and I got on a preorder list ahead of the release (which was slated for the end of November 2008) — but come early December I still hadn’t gotten mine. I was pissed because I saw all of these other reviews being published and I wanted to publish one myself and couldn’t get my hands on one to review. So I contacted Canon and basically said look I want to write a review. Is there any way I can get a review copy or can you at least help me out and point me where I can get one of these? I felt I’d done everything right by preordering and yet still was not getting the camera to review.

Canon responded saying that I should probably expect my preorder from Wolf soon because a new shipment had just been sent to them. So I didn’t get my 5D Mark 2 in the next week. In fact I didn’t get it until over a month later from an entirely different vendor in January. What was worse though is that Canon just blew me off. After I sent them multiple emails they simply never responded to repeated additional emails on the situation.

I want to be clear I didn’t want special treatment here. I felt that as a blogger with a prominent photography blog that I should be treated like any other member of the press. But if they couldn’t provide me a review copy then I’d hoped that they could at least point me in the right direction where I could buy one so that I could review it. You’d think publicity would be good.

The fact of the matter is Canon doesn’t give a rats ass about social media or bloggers. Their PR and marketing team are happy to treat the mainstream press well but view the sort of stuff we are doing as insignificant. So that made me mad too and probably contributed all the more to my not wanting to advertise their product.

Even though I use my Canon 5D Mark 2 every single day and love it, I have no interest in promoting their products. I never did write my review on their new camera, because what’s the point in writing a review in January on a camera that came out last November?

So those are the reasons why I black off the Canon logos on my gear and they are the same reasons that I tell to everyone who asks me (and I get people asking me about it every single week). Hopefully someday Canon decides that our opinion on their products matter.

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  1. joe sleeper says:

    As a fellow Canon photog, I feel your pain. Nikon does seem to do better with the blogosphere than Canon. I’d love an equivalent of D-Town to watch!

    /me goes to find the electrical tape.

  2. Ari says:

    I often black it out because it seems less people want to chat about gear when they have no clue what you have and I’m not a big gear head.

  3. Brian K says:

    You said in your video with Marc Silber that you also mark off the red line on the L series lenses so you don’t advertise having thousand dollar glass on your camera. I was wondering what you use on your glass.

  4. Enigma Arcana says:

    Tucker Carlson’s “amazing”?
    Clearly, bowties have magic powers

  5. Phill says:

    Interesting, I suppose when you’re in your league of superstardom you should have an agent secure the rights to which camera you use, and you appear in their advertising in return no? Just like sport stars?!

    Seriously though to you debadge your car? Computer, food?!

    Tbh if I leave it on it’s one less what gear to you use question 🙂

  6. ForeveR says:

    Less Whining, more pictures. Thanks.

  7. Paula says:

    My car was de-badged by vandals, which I don’t mind so much, since I prefer not to give any company free advertising unless I consider myself some kind of evangelist… I don’t wear logos on clothes, and dumped my Canon strap as soon as I got the camera… might have to consider also de-badging my equipment as well…

  8. brett says:

    i use black gaffers tape on my 5dm2’s, it also protects them from the inevitable scraps and scratches that come from my crawling around abandoned buildings … thus increasing potential resale value …

    and yes, for the two reasons mentioned above …

  9. Rick Bucich says:

    I knew of a pro studio photographer in LA who had his car broken into and ransacked. All off his Hasselblad gear was found in a nearby dumpster. Apparently it looked too old fashion to fence easily, go figure…

  10. Nomar says:

    Sounds like you need to Photoshop some gaffer tape over the Canon logo on your Blog portrait.

  11. Jeff Lynch says:

    Please don’t take this the wrong way but why not buy a Canon Professional Services (the gold level is $100 I believe) membership which includes their Trial/Loaner service for members? I know several professionals that have been a part of this program for years and often ask for a trial / loaner to evaluate before making their purchase decision.

    As for the free advertising we give Canon by displaying their logo, while I agree with you in principle, its just a fact of life these days. We advertise for all sorts of companies like Apple, Microsoft, Dell, HP, GM, Ford, Honda, Nike, Callaway Golf, etc. these days just by leaving the house. There’s really no way around it.

    Just a thought!


  12. Brad says:

    I shoot in SF all the time, and in some not so great areas. No one has ever taken a 2nd look at my cam. Have never had an issue. Shooting street is about the attitude you project.

    I talked to one guy a photo get-together a couple months ago at Thirsty Bear and he said he cuts out a thin band of black tape and covers the red band of his L lenses…

  13. Fuck that, I’m not giving YOU free advertising MANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN *drawn out stoner voice*

  14. Adam T says:

    I agree Mr. Hawk. I think with all my experiences good/bad that there is no reason I should be putting free adverts out there. This weekend before I go walking about I will probably tape off my logos and stripes with some gaf-tape.

    I hope to see you around SF one day on a walk or something. I miss the city and can’t wait to try and shoot it again.

    Take care!

  15. Will says:

    I am going home and covering my Car logo, Yankees log, camera logos, Gap logos, Nike logo, Apple logo. Wait, what has wonder bread done for me, I will cover my bread logo too. Why stop at cameras. Let’s be consistent. Hey, I’ll even cover my wedding band with black tape. Not your best post.

  16. James says:

    You seem very tightly wound.

  17. Scott Bourne says:

    Back in the day, we did the same thing. We blacked out the camera brand because there were so many – and a Nikon (again – back in the day) was much better known in foreign lands than a Pentax or a Minolta, etc.

    Now, with Canon and Nikon owning 94% of the market, pretty much everyone knows you’re shooting one or the other. I don’t bother with marking off anymore partly because I no longer travel internationally and I don’t worry about it – but I think it’s a valid thing to think about doing.

    And Thomas, if it makes you feel any better – I can’t get Canon to send me review units or even to respond to interview requests. It seems they practice a special sort of “reverse PR.” 🙂

  18. Paul Eaton says:

    I know your pain! I’ve been blacking out my logos for about 10 years now solely on the “why should I advertise for you” principal.

    I was one of the lucky ones in getting a pair of 5d’s shortly after release. I have a friend that works at Canon and I happen to live in NJ so I had luck on my side. However the friend couldn’t really do much for me so I took anything he could give me which happened to be just the info on what vendor would be getting the next shipment so I got on their list asap and called A LOT!

  19. Little Stinking Jimmy says:

    I echo some of the remarks – stop whining, more pictures! You sound like a very tightly-wound moaning little gimp.

    You have a ‘prominent’ photo blog? I’d never heard of you until someone posted a link to ‘come and read about this moaning little twat’.

    You met someone you admired who blanked ‘Canon’ off his cameras? Then you went away and did the same, whilst masturbating using your tears as lubricant? Pathetic.

  20. I think this is a great idea. I used to have all logos marked off all my things, because I worked as an extra (background artist) in Hollywood all the time. I always enjoyed the clean look, and I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself. I have some black gaffer’s tape around here… =)

  21. It makes sense. If thieves think they will not get much for selling the camera they are less likely to steal it. I disagree about the advertising though. Canon offers a product at a low price and should be able to place their logo on their products.

  22. Russ says:

    I think concealing the logos is silly, but I also think Canon’s lack of service and lack of in-touchness with the social media community is wrong.

    Maybe Canon’s problems stem from the way their employees are treated. Don’t sit and walk fast!


  23. Scott says:

    Um, blacking the logos out fine, on problem, but if Canon’s practices bug you so much, stop giving them money.

    They don’t care that you black out their logo, they’re very happy to keep taking your cash though.

  24. Spike says:

    What a wanking post.

  25. Roger says:

    Why not “advertise” for Canon. What’s it do to hurt you?

    Do you feel that your relationship is a one way street with companies like Canon? That all the benefits flow in only one direction towards Canon? Like “they got my money so why should I give them free advertising?”

    Did you ever consider that you might actually be greatly benefiting from using their product? What value do you place on all the photographs that you’ve taken with their gear? Are they worthless to you? I think most photographers, even amateurs that don’t depend on income from their work would place a value on their work far in excess of whatever the gear cost that made them. It’s called value creation and in the grand scheme of things it’s the photographer that is the greatest beneficiary in the relationship.

    In addition, don’t photographers benefit when companies like Canon do well financially and are able to do research that improves camera technology? Maybe having their logos visible will have an effect on the people in public that see it or see your work that was made by Canon gear and maybe convince some of them to buy Canon, which in turn helps Canon make better products that you’re able to use?

  26. Mark Rosoff says:

    Years ago people entering the states from overseas had to black out/scratch out the names on their cameras. Honeywell had the rights to Pentax, so BOTH the Asahi and Pentax names had to go. I forget if EPOI made Nikon buyers do it. On the “steal me” issue I often tell customers (semi joke)to use a diaper bag as a camera bag and put a chocolate and lemon stained diaper on top.Once I got a beautiful Hassie decal-all silver and blue and metallic- then I thought- bumper, uh, no. Maybe on my hard case- hell no!

  27. Robert Malin says:

    OMG What a bunch of sissy’s,
    Look the guy doesn’t want to advertise a logo and uses black tape to cover them up.
    I hate it when people go so far to the left or right that they loose sight of reality. (Nuts)
    Look the average thief is going to know that any cannon brand that has removable lenses is worth some bucks, Thieves are stupid and the majority would not know that a cannon l series lens has a red ring around it and they WOULD more than likely take another look at your gear if it had cannon smeared all over it.
    Personally shooting micro stock and dealing with a large number of models and professionals i would not cover my gear because i would want the models to know that i was using top shelf equipment and feel more comfortable in front of the lens.

  28. […] 2007, blogger/photographer Thomas Hawk had his portrait taken by photographer Bill Wadman as part of his 365 Portraits series. Hawked […]