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Modern legacy: shutter sound

Although modern technology currently moves forward at a more rapid pace than ever before, there are still plenty of legacy solutions and symbols that are resilient enough to stand the test of time. Like digital equivalents of living fossils, they have managed to survive the disruptive effect of technological innovation and still thrive in highly modern IT-environments.

In this series, we will take a closer look at some legacy icons that are still present in our modern times. In this article we’re going to focus on the shutter sound that your smartphone makes when you use the built-in camera.

Too much noise

You have that rare bird in perfect view, ready to take the money shot that will bring you endless praise in your local birding and nature lover’s club. But when you fire, the shutter sound is so loud (your phone is still in loud music enjoyment mode) that the bird flies off a tad too early, resulting in a blurry mess that could have been a great photo.

The mechanical shutter

Older photo and film cameras and DSLRs are equipped with a mechanical shutter. This component of the camera first covers the sensor, then exposes it again to start the exposure, before shutting it a short time later and ‘recocking’ for the next shot. Mechanical shutters consist of overlapping metal blades that open and close in much the same way as a lens aperture.

Electronic shutters

Many modern cameras, especially the high-end mirrorless ones, have electronic rather than mechanical shutters. Since these have no moving parts, they are completely silent. Great news when you want to stay really discreet (street photography, events, shy wildlife) or when you’re shooting with long exposure times and you want to avoid any chance of camera shake completely. Electronic shutters do have certain limitations though, especially when it comes to action photography.

No shutter, still a shutter sound

Your trusted smartphone camera, the ideal companion to capture everyday snapshots and fill your social media accounts, doesn’t have a mechanical shutter either. But it still makes the “clicking” sound when you take a photo to mimic the true photographer’s experience. Would you rather shoot in silent mode? Lucky you, because most phones allow you to turn the shutter sound off so that next time you actually get that tack-sharp and prized photo of your favorite bird…