Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Recently I came across someone questioning that only cameras that don’t exceed the noise level of a Leica rangefinder camera are allowed to be used during actual court proceedings.  The question was if this was true or if it was just a myth.  This sparked some curiosity on my part and I began to research the topic.  Here is what I found:

Leica M4

In summer of 1977 the state of Florida began a one year experiment to allow the use of still cameras, tape recorders and live television broadcasts by accredited news agencies during court sessions.  It marked the first time since the early 1960s that the media could venture into public trials and visually record the principals of a case with more than pen and sketch pad.

One of the earliest cases which received national attention during this experimental period was that of a 15 year old Miami boy who had been charged with murdering an elderly retiree during a robbery.  Major news networks showed film clips almost daily and the nation’s newspapers were supplied with photos by the various wire services.  At about the same time the Georgia Supreme Court, in consultation with the state bar association, drew up board guidelines for the admittance of news cameras etc. during state judicial proceedings.  The chief judge of each Georgia superior court circuit was given the prerogative to formulate a specific coverage plan in his own district.

Many of those judges used their power and position to effectively exclude members of the visual media by not approving any plan of coverage for their trials in their jurisdictions.  Still and television cameras were still barred in many counties in Georgia, even though the state’s highest court had sanctioned their use.

The supreme courts in both states further stipulated that the use of flash and motor drives were prohibited.  In addition the chief justices gave the presiding judges the discretion to reject those cameras with noise levels which would distract jurors during testimony and “detract from the decorum of the Court.”  That brought up the question of which cameras were quiet enough to meet the noise criteria set down by a crusty, conservative Georgia or Florida circuit judge.

The answer was unanimous:  “Get a Leica M3 or M4 and a 90mm or 135mm lens.”  Soon photographers began winning accolades of judges for the discreet quietness of their cameras.

Thus the conclusion is that even though judges do have the final word if cameras are allowed in court, the noise level of the Leica cameras apparently have become the standard.  This is further underlined in a document called "Supreme Court Etiquette for Media" from the Vermont State Supreme Court. Under "Special Rules for Cameras and Recording Equipment," it says:

“Not more than one still photographer, utilizing not more than two still cameras with not more than two lenses for each camera and related equipment for print purposes shall be permitted in any court proceeding. Such cameras shall produce no greater sound than a 35mm Leica "M" Series rangefinder camera.”




We are excited to offer our first photography contest.  It is very simple; there are no entry fees and no rules or restrictions of what you may enter.  Simply take what you consider to be your best work and send it in.

Please don't forget your name and contact information!

Please make the long dimension of the photograph approximately10 inches with a resolution of 100 DPI in a JPEG file format.  We will accept hard copy photographs within similar dimensions.  Entries are limited to no more than five photographs.

All photographs will be copyrighted by your name unless otherwise specified.  None of the photographs will be used for any other purpose unless prior permission is received.  Entering the competition will give the LEICA Barnack Berek Blog permission to publish your photographs in conjunction with this contest only.

Entries will be accepted until the last day of April 2015.

We believe that any photo contest, judged by only one individual, cannot possibly be fair because the contest will inevitably be subject to the likes and dislikes of only one individual.  For that reason this photography contest will be judged by three judges,

Heinz Richter, editor of the LEICA Barnack Berek Blog
Monica Kopeć, Art Historian
And a third person yet to be chosen

First Prize:  Your choice of either a City Walker Shoulder Bag by Think Tank, or a Scarabaeus camera belt clip, or a Eddycam camera strap.

Second Prize: Your choice of either a City Walker Shoulder Bag by Think Tank, or a Scarabaeus camera belt clip, or a Eddycam camera strap, depending on the first place choice.

Third Prize: Either a City Walker Shoulder Bag by Think Tank, or a Scarabaeus camera belt clip, or a Eddycam camera strap, depending on the first and second place choices.

  City Walker Shoulder bag, valued at $129.75

  Scarabaeus camera belt clip, valued at $179.00

  EDDYCAM camera strap, valued at $200.00

Fourth Prize: Oscar Barnack Poster

    Oscar Barnack Poster, 13 x 16.7 inch, valued at $25.00

Fifth Prize: Eddycam Mircro Fiber Cloth

 EDDYCAM Microfiber 25x30cm / 11.8in x 9.8 in   EDDYCAM Microfiber Cloth, valued at @20.00

Sixth Prize: Set of vintage Leica greeting cards from the 1930s.

  Vintage Leica Greeting Cards, valued at $20.00

In addition there will be several honorable mentions.

Please send entries to or mail to
LEICA Barnack Berek Blog
307 7th Avenue North
Hopkins, MN 55343

For questions please send email to or call us at 952-930-0433

For more information on the prize items, please go to:

Good luck!


For high quality camera bags and accessories worthy of Leica equipment, go to


  1. I am sure there are other cameras that are just as quiet as a Leica, many of the mirrorless cameras, for instance.

    1. That is correct. Nowhere did I say in the article that Leicas are the only cameras allowed in courtrooms. However, this is just another instance where Leica has been leading the rest of the camera world. And please don't forget, Leica M cameras are all mirrorless cameras.