While reading the recent release announcement of the Sony a9, something buried in the article caught my attention. It wasn't that it was full-frame or that it was capable of 20 frames per second or even how this could finally be the mirrorless camera to cover sports, but that because of its electronic shutter, a photographer could get shots like never before.
Okay, the electronic, or silent shutter, is not new. In fact, I've written about it before. I just wondered why all of a sudden I was reading several articles about this new Sony camera extolling the fact that we could now have a mirrorless camera capable of shooting sports while not making any shutter noise. Was it all about making photos of golfers in their backswings we'd see now?
The reality is for those of us that shoot both mirrorless and DSLR cameras, the benefits of that electronic shutter is well known. During meetings, performances, or being discreet on the street, any time that the clunk of a shudder would draw attention or break the mood, the electronic shudder wins. And, yes, it even has its place when covering sports.
I understand the mechanics of why a DSLR makes noise and often use the quiet shutter-release mode on my Nikon D4s. While it is sometimes the better option, it still isn't silent. And because shutter noise can be distracting, get you noticed, or worse, get you kicked out of a room, it is nice to have the option of an electronic shutter.
Silence is golden, which is why my default setting on the Fuji X-Pro2 is silent, all sounds muted or turned off. I even go as far as to cover the indicator lamp with gaffers tape.
The electronic shutter allows for a certain amount of stealth, even when it is obvious you are taking pictures. But without shutter noise, it's easy for the subject to forget you are there, allowing you to blend into the scene and truly capture the moment.