Don’t Shoot Guns, Shoot This Camera

In light of our nation’s lifelong love affair with high-powered weaponry, I thought it might be nice to consider an alternative: photography.

Now I know it sounds crazy—besides the verb shoot, how much can a method of capturing images have in common with a killing device?—but let me introduce you to my friend, the “Photo Sniper F3”:

You see, this baby—designed by the Russians during the Cold War for “covert observation”—combines the thrill of aiming cameras at people with that of pulling triggers—all in harmless fun.

Used by the KBG and other Soviet intelligence services, the “Sniper” catered to individuals familiar with firing weapons. Using an extra shutter-release button connected a “pawl,” it allows the user to release the shutter by—you guessed it—pulling the trigger.

The “mounting stock” in the back, meanwhile, is for more than just show. When pressed firmly against the should, a la Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, it replaces the need for a tripod.

Along with a Zenit ES reflex camera (which currently goes for about $40 on eBay), the F3 comes equipped with a 300 mm telephoto lens, a leather carrying strap, five color filters, and a metal storage container.

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle shooting a…

Here’s how the camera is used, as per the Crypto Museum:

“When shooting pictures, one hand should hold the camera by the pistol grip and press it firmly to the shoulder, whilst the other hand is free to support the front-end of the boom and adjust the focus knob. When pulling the trigger, a pawl releases the diafragm override, whilst another pawl operates the shutter of the modified camera”

The real golden quote, however, comes from Amazon user Robert Serrini, who was gifted an F3 for his birthday, and writes [emphasis mine]:

“The Fotosniper was forged into being so that soldiers, who were good a shooting people, but crap photographers, could do spy reconnoissance and gain intel on the enemy.”

He continues, saying that, despite its Russian origins, there is nothing “more American than something that is not a gun being made into a gun“.

And this is exactly my point.

The Photo Sniper was built to turn killers into photographers, and there’s no reason it can’t continue to do so today. Rather than gathering intel, however, it could be used to document family gatherings and other personal milestones, or even fleeing deer.

Now unfortunately Amazon is out of stock and is unsure “when or if” it will be available again, which is all the more reason for other companies to step in and corner the market. I see no reason why this should be less popular than laser tag. Maybe guns “don’t kill people,” as the saying goes, but I know one thing for sure: cameras definitely don’t.

[Screenshot Amazon]

[Update: Amazon user John S. Socha, contrary to just about everyone on the web, says “This camera has NOTHING to do with spies, the KGB, etc. Any seller who claims this is blowing smoke.” As much as I am inclined to side with the skeptic here, he fails to explain why it has a trigger, etc. and then goes on to plug his own book, always a suspicious move. Will keep eye on this.]  


Images Courtesy Crypto Museum