Shutter noise 'standard'??

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mike_halliwell, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. The loudness or harshness of shutter sounds have been mentioned in quite a few posts recently and I was wondering if there is or has been a standard, a-bit like the CIPA Frames per Battery Charge idea?
    Maybe max dB @ 2m in front of the lens or somesuch?
    Should a lens even be fitted? I suppose no lens would 'level the playing field' and standardize the results between brands.

    Accurate sound meters are pretty cheap now....I almost feel like testing all of mine!
  2. A lens definitely needs to be fitted as having an open bayonet with no lens would emit more sound and yet the result of such a measurement or evaluation is never relevant for practical use of the camera, which takes place with at least some lens attached.
    You can do your own measurements but you need decent temporal resolution in your measurement setup to be able to isolate the shutter sound (which should show up as one or two very short peaks that may be high intensity but very short duration) from the aperture closing sound and the sound from the movement of the mirror (which in some cases includes the slap as the mirror hits the upper frame of the mirror box. I don't know if sound intensity meters give a time course that is high resolution enough to study these components. I suspect such meters normally just give one or two figures that show the average and the peak sound intensity; I have such an application in my N9. Of course you can also get meters that can be used with an oscilloscope to show the full high resolution time course but the cost is likely to be higher.
    If you do such an experiment, it is good to test different shutter speeds and also place the meter at different locations around the camera to see if more sound is emitted into some directions than others.
  3. My favorite camera is an F2 with an MD-2. If I run off a sequence of 5-10 frames people start looking up to see if there is an airliner about to crash. Today's digital bodies to me are nearly silent.
    Rick H.
  4. I like scaring people with my Pentax 645, though I'm sure a Hasselblad could give it a run for its money. Ironically, the Mamiya 6 and Rolleiflex, both also 6x6, are the quietest mechanical cameras I've used (due to the leaf shutters). My F5 is pretty good at scaring people too.

    I guess it wouldn't be too hard to compare cameras of a single mount, by putting the same lens on the front. Putting the same Sigma lens on the front of all cameras is a bit more dubious, but maybe still useful. I'm not too fussed at the distinction between the mirror noise and the shutter noise - I just want to know how loud the camera is when I take a photo, not which bit made the noise. Not that I object to the additional information in case I'm shooting in M-Up.

    DPReview has historically done audio recordings of cameras. I've not looked to see what their methodology is. (I'm usually reading on a computer for which getting audio access is a faff.)
  5. The EM and FG were about the quietest Nikon bodies. Of all the SLR's I ever owned, the Contax ARIA was the quietest, sweetest ever (it didn't use a film advance sprocket). The N90s always reminded me of a guillotine ;-)
  6. My great F3 with a motor drive could be heard in the next state. My d810 is dead silent by comparison.
  7. It would be difficult to measure shutter sounds without some subjective interpretation. The Nikon F3 and FM2N seem approximately equally "loud" in terms of impulse level, but the characteristics are very different. The FM2N has a harsher, more metallic clang with a bit of reverb, while the F3 is a much more subdued and subjectively pleasant thunk. The F3 and MD-4 were easier to silence in my homemade blimp box for theater photography, while the FM2N/MD-12 was still just barely audible in the same box.
  8. I think Bronica users might have a good case for bringing a class action claim for hearing damage!
  9. Yeah, an F3 with the MD-4 is pretty loud, yet there's just something beautiful about it. I'm also curious if my Pentax 67 has been responsible for seismic activity in the region.
  10. Meanwhile, my humble little OM-D EM-5 has such a quiet shutter that a "quiet" mode would be meaningless...
  11. Peter: Yes, the EM-5 has the advantage that it doesn't have to move the mirror out of the way - and I strongly suspect the mirror is responsible for much more of the noise in most of the DSLRs mentioned than the shutter is. (The Pentax 645 also has a film winding mechanism that would double as an alarm clock, and I'm not sure how much of its noise is shutter and how much is mirror.) I'd still expect the leaf shutter in the Rolleiflex or Mamiya are quieter (in the "did I actually press the shutter release?" sense), but I'm sure anything without a mirror avoids the worst of the noise.

    Next up, any lenses with particularly noisy aperture blades?
  12. Most of the demonstrations I've seen on the internet place the camera on a table of some sort, which would act like a sounding board. In lieu of an anechoic chamber, a friend of mine, an MIT graduate in physics, familiar with sound measurements, suggested placing it on a block of foam outdoors, away from walls or buildings, on a quiet day (or night), and recording the sound at a distance of one meter with a good microphone. Omnidirectional microphones are highly resistant to wind noise, and can be fitted with a foam or fiber wind screen for almost complete suppression. There is bound to be some ambient noise, but mostly at low frequencies compared to the most obvious sounds of a camera shutter.
    In a more practical vein, I used a Leica M9 on a tripod at a concert this Sunday. People sitting directly behind me were unaware that I was taking photos. On another occasion, I used a Hasselblad at least 35 feet from the nearest person, and got complaints from the orchestra (60+ feet). Okay, the Hasselblad is a bad boy in the noise department, and I was chagrined over the results. A Nikon D3 is not much better. The M9 has a reputation of being loud compared to an M3, but having used both, I have my doubts. M3s and Rolleis are very quiet, until you wind them for the next shot. Gottcha!
  13. It would be pretty difficult to correlate objective measurements with the subjective annoyance caused by the shutter noise, as Lex suggested.
    The transient nature of the shutter will vary from a perceived damped-but-loud "slap" to a more metallic "clink" depending on their respective mechanical design. A peak SPL number might help users to determine a quieter camera choice when the numbers are compared, but not really useful if the final objective is stone silence.
  14. some of those old Nikons could get pretty rowdy, but I don't think any can beat a Konica T3. How many times have I told you not to slam the screen door?

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