World’s Largest Private Yacht Features a Laser-based Anti-Photo Shield

Earlier this month, we featured an upcoming license plate frame that uses bright flashes of light to prevent traffic enforcement photographs. In the article, we mentioned that the concept could potentially be used by the rich and famous to avoid the constant gaze of paparazzi cameras. Turns out the rich and famous are already one step ahead of us.

Eclipse, the world’s largest private yacht owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, already features a high-tech anti-photography system that uses lasers to seek out and deny cameras.

The system was reportedly installed in the $1B+ ship back in 2009, and uses lasers to scan the surrounding area for digital camera CCD sensors.

When it discovers a camera being pointed at the Eclipse, the system beams a bright light directly into the camera to completely wash out any photograph as it’s being exposed.

According to The Times, which broke the story at the time, the “shield” can be easily switched off to allow special guests the opportunity to snap personal photographs. Only when paparazzi are spotted is the system flipped on.

After news of the photo-defense system started spreading, Amateur Photographer asked a couple of lawyers about the legality of such a device. While they didn’t arrive at a conclusive answer, the main questions are whether there is a “reasonable expectation of privacy” while floating around in a yacht and whether the shield inflicts any damage upon cameras and/or photographers.

One thing’s for sure, though: Eclipse isn’t going to get ticketed by a traffic enforcement camera anytime soon.

(via Amateur Photographer via Wired)

Image credits: Photo illustrations based on Eclipse by Niels Linneberg and The Eclipse, St Barts by alljengi

  • andrew

    so how was this picture taken then !!

  • JD929

    Sounds like BS. I don’t see how anything can detect CCDs or CMOS sensors at a distance. If it is real, it might detect the focus assist light on compact cameras. But SLRs and phones don’t use them. Someone is probably blowing smoke here.

  • Nick

    what camera did you use to take those pictures LOL ?

  • Michael Zhang

    That’s classified information ;-)

  • Robert Mark

    Detecting CCD sensors will take care of the casual point and shoot crowd. The cameras used by paparazzi use CMOS sensors.

  • kaja12

    the guy is a criminal….

  • Felipe G

    Well, time to pull the F5 and a roll of Provia out of storage

  • sierrarobba


  • kernkraft

    just use film… :P

  • SCRich

    Bond… James Bond…

  • Ron

    Peta pix just lost a bunch of cred with this one. This is a lame april fools joke. And it’s october. DSLR cameras have shutters — the sensor would not be visible unless the shutter is open. And even then, I doubt it. This is pure BS. A flash detection system would be much more doable. And beatable just by turning off the flash.

  • Ivan

    Well, first i though it as fake, but then… we can detect planets at several thousand light years by woblle of their parent star… so who knows? :)

  • Mario Liedtke

    Is it already 01. April again?
    1. If this would be possible, it would be illegal as it would be dangerous to the eyes of DSLR-Photographers.
    2. It isn’t possible.
    2a. The angle to hit a max. 36x24mm small area from far distances around 30 to 300m is to narrow and small.
    2b. The area that has to be traced is much to huge! Would you find a camera sensor or a lens in 30 to 300m distance everywhere around in 360° around and -20° to +10° of vertical align?
    2c. Water surface always in motion and reflecting very different. How shall a sensor find a difference?
    3. How did you get the pics from the ship? (Oh, of course. The system was off.. Of course! It’s ALWAYS off!!)

    But… .. nice try..

  • 11

    this should have been saved for April 1st of 2013.

  • Yaputa Leftlegin

    The report is wrong.
    The shot shows the yacht under attack by terrorist sightseeing groups firing laser beams from weapons disguised as cheap cameras.

  • 11

    I think all they have is a $1B bright lamp emitting 1MW of light on the top of ship powered by nuclear battery. It does not detect anything.. just a bright light, always on. lol

  • Zak Henry

    The d700 & d800 both have focus assist lamps. But yes, I agree wholeheartedly that there is no reliable way to detect a camera. It could do it with flash photography, but then we can all do that by just having a slaved flash on board.

  • Chris

    What about the Woman at the dock… she is digging in her nose…. ! That is maybe also a fake…. hahaaa

  • JamesR

    I guess as long as you don’t use live view mode you’re fine – unless the system really is quick enough to react in the few moments the mirror is up and the shutter is open and exposing the sensor the system is trying to detect.

  • Viral Videos

    Hey man, keep your lasers to yourself!

  • Pedro Vera

    What about using a polarizing filter or a variable neutral density filter?

  • Ariel Teo

    well done!

  • Johnson C.

    I wonder if a big group of paparazzi spamming shutter, can the rich guy even walk in flashes? I mean super bright flashes.

  • 3ric15

    This is bull. Even if it could detect sensors, how can it pinpoint a coordinate in space, aim a laser at that exact point, and AT THE SAME time beating a shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second on a DSLR? Yea, right…

  • steve-o

    this guy has billions.. im sure he can pay some scientists to figure this out and make it work. the nobel prize only pays 1m?.. he can dish out much more on his own for some research.

    i believe this is posible..

  • Burnin Biomass

    Yep, I was thinking a polarizer and a lens hood on long glass.

    Not that I believe this is real.

  • Burnin Biomass

    Basically, this is going to be a highly photographed boat now. People are going to go out of their way to take pictures of this thing to see if it works (I don’t think it works), and if it does, people will figure out a way around it.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think /this/ specific case is real, but a more seemingly effective and non-intrusive method (at least to those without a camera) would be to just have a massive IR emitter flashing in a directions that could be switched on/off. It would be the same effect you’d see in pointing a remote control IR emitter at the camera – a bright purple light. (This doesn’t hold for all cameras, but most at least)

  • Burnin Biomass

    Or if the light is going to shine at the CCD, just rig up a periscope type device to move the opening away from the CCD.

  • Rob

    I wonder how many times this old story is going to be recycled?

  • Stephan Haggerty

    Like most of what is published or broadcast by any “news” outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch this is complete bull$%#% and fantasy. Its saddening that so many of you and Mr. Zhang actually seem to believe it. You might as well believe the Weekly World News stories about Bigfoot-alien babies.

  • Ashleigh

    This was pretty much discredited back when it was first news.

    The media and mindless repeaters love simple, highly controversial stories like this. Never question the technology, only implicate via hyperbole the what-if.

    Mr. Abramowicz would have to have done a private deal with the Russian military, their comrades, or their previous but recently rogue comrades to acquire such technology, if it existed: this aspect is probably the only realistic angle to an otherwise highly suspect, conspiracy driven scandal mongering sinister fantasy involving the always popular “the other”, in this case Russian oligarch.

    Always with technology, one must question whether it’s realistic, commercial, and how it fails.

  • Stephan Haggerty

    Each one of these these links refers back to The Times as a source…Using the original claimants material as a”proof” proves nothing but gullibility.

  • madmax

    The only reasonable proposal till now…

  • csevengo

    Does anybody notice the girl about to start digging for gold in the foreground?

  • erudite

    “uses lasers to scan the surrounding area for digital camera CCD sensors.”

    meaningless, not logical. not every camera uses CCD sensor. especially advanced ones. and you don’t have to get close to take a photo. a good lens will be enough to take it from very very far away.

    “The system was reportedly installed in the $1B” pehhh… waste of money…

  • m

    What a load of horseshit!…but LOL

  • Kieronl

    Now this reminds of Thunderbirds. And its just as real

  • Xyz

    The perfect ad for the 800mm f5.6 – “Looking to get that photo no one else can? Now get that photo a couple of km away!”

  • Nate Parker

    I don’t understand- who would want to make a photo of this dumb boat anyways?

  • Johannes

    I think it’s just a marketing stunt to get the word out about this new ship and billionaire.

  • ehjxgcth

    Dr. Evil!

  • Steel Bands

    Does this mean that we will have to sign an NDA if we get a gig on Eclipse?

  • Greetings

    The device is awesome..
    (But the $ 1B..!! is not )

  • pacman

    How on God’s Earth would a “Freakin Laser Beam” detect a passive technology like CCD? This story is clearly meant to drum up comments from idiots like… me, wait.. crap.

  • nick

    So could you not just up the shutter speed as if you were shooting in intensely bright light?

  • SeanDizzle

    So if the laser can detect and shoot a beam of light at cameras, how are these pictures taken?

  • gibu

    and there the yacht thought you were a good man, it will be sad to see this pic online.

  • gibu

    Mind blown!

  • Guest