As a beginner, you might be wondering why do mirrorless cameras make noise. Isn’t that mirrorless cameras should be silent?
We are aware that DSLRs have a mirror or prism that causes a loud clanking sound when shooting.
Which in effect, you have no control over it as it is part of DSLR design.
While for mobile phones… you can turn off that clicking noise (sound effect) if you wish to make photographing silent.
And yes, mobile phone cameras don’t have a mirror or prism that would cause a loud sound when taking a picture.
What about Mirrorless Cameras?
As the name suggests… mirrorless cameras are without a mirror as well.
But why can an audible sound still be heard when shooting a photograph? And unlike mobile phones, you cannot turn off that clicking sound in mirrorless cameras.
While many MILC’s latest models are now built with an option to make them more silent.
So, what’s causing that noise?
Let’s find out.
Why do Mirrorless Cameras make Noise
Mirrorless cameras are made of different moving elements or mechanisms. While MILCs are without a mirror or prism, it still has a SHUTTER. And shutter is the primary source of noise or sound that is heard when taking a photograph. This is the Focal Plane Shutter built right in front of the focal plane or in front of the image sensor in the mirrorless camera body.
1. The Mechanical Shutter Effect
With the absence of a mirror or prism in the mirrorless camera, the mechanical shutter is the first on the list of what causes the noise or sound when shooting photographs.
There are two shutter curtains in a single mechanical shutter (Front curtain and Rear curtain) as I have explained in my previous article Why Mirrorless Camera need a Shutter.
And as I have pointed out, a shutter is needed to block or allow the light to hit the sensor.
While it is controlled by the shutter speed to allow the needed light to have a properly exposed image.
Below is an example of the mechanical shutter;
Logic dictates that any mechanical moving part will sure to create a sound (as mirrorless camera shutters do)… and this is especially true for mechanical shutters.
2. EFCS (Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter) reduced noise
Second, on the list that causes noise when shooting a photograph is the EFCS or the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter.
EFCS is a combination of the electronic shutter (front-curtain) and mechanical shutter (rear curtain).
While it is a more silent option because this feature has eliminated the use of a mechanical front curtain, instead, it had to utilize the electronic shutter to control the sensor by turning it ON or OFF.
However, you can still hear a considerable sound created by the rear curtain shutter.
Depending on the mirrorless camera brand, some have the EFCS feature turned ON by default, while you may have to activate EFCS in some models or brands if you want to use this feature.
Check the user’s manual and specifications of your mirrorless camera to know if your model has the EFCS option.
3. Electronic Shutter and another source of noise
Of the three shutters available in mirrorless cameras, the fully electronic shutter is quieter.
So, utilizing the fully electronic shutter has eliminated the use of mechanical shutters.
In other words, what you will see is only the image sensor like the below example image.
Few mirrorless camera brands out in the market have this feature as an option (e.g., Silent Shooting), while some manufacturers have already started utilizing full electronic shutters.
One good example of a mirrorless camera that uses a fully electronic shutter is the Nikon Z9.
The loud clicking sound may no longer be that obvious but there may still present little sound caused by the shutter button.
Aside from that, other sources of noise may now be audible…
Such as the sound of the motor of an auto-focusing lens, since it will now become louder than the sound created by the electronic shutter.
Here’s a reference link with video clips of different mirrorless cameras’ shutter noise >> https://www.mirrorlessons.com/2013/05/30/qa-do-mirrorless-cameras-make-noise/
So there you go, we have identified the reasons why do mirrorless cameras make noise.
Again, it is primarily caused by the shutter.
While the noise level will vary depending on the type of shutters that are being utilized such as;
- Mechanical Shutter
- Found to create the loudest noise
- EFCS (Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter)
- More silent as the mechanical front-curtain shutter is replaced by the electronic shutter that reduces mechanical movement which creates noise
- Electronic Shutter
- Utilizing a fully electronic shutter (e.g., Silent Shooting) has eliminated mechanical movement
- Known brand that has used a fully electronic shutter is Nikon when they launch Z9
- Using an electronic shutter eliminates the shutter sound that makes it quieter
And just to make it clear, the sounds created by the shutters are normal.
If you are not comfortable hearing the loud sound while shooting photographs created by mechanical shutters…
You can always opt to use the much quieter EFCS and fully electronic shutter.
All you need to do is check if your mirrorless camera is built with such an option.
So, there you have it, folks.
Once again thank you for reading. Please leave a comment if you have questions or suggestions, and I will try to answer them as soon as I can and to the best of my knowledge.
About Rowe Medialdea:
Hi, I’m Rowe, a mirrorless camera and photography enthusiast. We have created this site to be of help (especially to beginners) by producing easy-to-understand content about mirrorless cameras! Welcome to our website!