Federal, state, and local authorities have announced a slew of arrests related to a newly discovered underground camera fighting ring. The sting operation, called “Operation Sticky Aperture Blade” has resulted in over 3,000 arrests in towns and cities across the country and the recovery of over 9,300 fighting cameras. Authorities are still trying to piece together the story, but what currently know is that cameras were pitted against one another in battles to the death.
The “battles” consisted of two cameras repeatedly taking photos of brick walls and test charts, tracking subjects in near darkness, and other rigorous challenges, while camera owners screamed specifications, 100% crops, and test results at each other.
Point-and-shoot cameras, with their “20 Megapickles! 3-inch LCD! SDHC Memory Card!” stickers still intact, were used to antagonize the cameras before they entered the arena, bragging that they had more megapickles than the combatants or other features like creative modes and touchscreens. Many were permanently disfigured in the process.
Popular battle cameras included the Nikon D4s, Canon 1D X, big brutes with razor sharp reflexes, although various Pentaxes, Fujis, and Olympuses were also sent to fight to the death. Ringleaders had set up a sophisticated class system where even smaller cameras could participate in this gruesome spectacle. Unsurprisingly, Leicas were notably absent from the ring as they are known to prefer the ballet to battles.
Winners lived to fight another day, while the losers…just disappeared.
Abigail Archibald, President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Towards Cameras, said in a statement, “The way that these ringleaders treated these cameras brings a tear to my eye. All of that shooting under duress, all of that shooting in the dark, and all of that shooting of….of…nothing! Cameras are born to take photos, to be coveted and sometimes even coddled by their owners, and most of all, to capture memories and stunning images. In other words, to be used well. It saddens me to think that these cameras were confined to nylon bags, brought out only to take photos of brick walls and test charts, and then discarded like an empty bag of potato chips when they lost. Imagine living a short, angry life without one cat photo. Oh. The horror!”
While the camera owners await trial, the rescued cameras will be rehabilitated and then re-introduced to normal society by the Camera Rescue Society. The Society, founded in 1990, has developed a process by which they slowly encourage the battle scarred cameras to take photos that have some emotional or artistic values. “These battle cameras aren’t bad cameras; they’ve just lived bad lives, and that’s something we can change,” says Camera Rescue Society President Hans Ito. “We start with simple things like a nicely composed photo of a tree. And then we progress to a person under the tree, and then two people, and then two people and a cat under the tree. At the end of our rehabilitation process, the former battle cameras are taking photos of cats exclusively, and once they can do that, they are ready to re-enter normal society.”
This isn’t the first camera battling ring that authorities have broken. And it’s not likely to be the last.