These cameras whisper soft sounds into your ear as you shoot with them.
The last two decades of photography have shown that photographers constantly demand quieter shutters. This went hand in hand with the demands of wedding photographers, street photographers and photojournalists. And like these shutters, the voices of some have resonated very loudly on the Internet. Then the manufacturers developed the silent shutter. Photographers who needed it have used it, but some of us miss the romanticism of the beautiful shutter. Digital photography does not have the sensory stimulation of film. You can’t feel the sensor, and the sounds are like a soulless machine. But these cameras had nice shutter sounds. Hopefully camera makers bring this back.
Olympus Pen EP1: Inspired by an old Leica
Sweet nothings: The Olympus Pen EP1 is arguably the camera that interested people in mirrorless to begin with. It had an exquisite look, but it also had a beautiful shutter sound. Back then, people cared a lot about silent shutters. This one has shutter sounds like an old Leica camera, according to reports I’ve read. There’s something about a satisfying, lens muffled click that’s so right. It’s a shame that Olympus never equipped this camera with a proper electronic viewfinder. It would have changed things so much.
Sony a7: the loud banging
Sweet nothings: The Sony a7 was one of the first full frame mirrorless autofocus cameras. I still own one and the shutter always does something for me. The Sony a7 has two modes. With the front electronic shutter curtain, the sound is a bit more muffled. But when you take it off, it looks like the slap of a medium format film camera. It’s very satisfying, and unlike anything I’ve heard in modern digital.
Canon 5D Mk II: a nice shutter
Sweet nothings: The Canon 5D Mk II is one of the most revolutionary cameras of the digital age. Known for producing cinematic videos, it also had a distinctive shutter sound. Like a few other cameras on this list, it was a bit muffled. This helped improve it for photojournalism, weddings, events, etc. Make no mistake, you could surely hear the sound of the shutter in a wedding hall. But for a photographer who cared, the sound was very nice. This camera has helped me build my career, so there is a special place in my heart.
Nikon D700: shutter sounds that resonate
Sweet nothings: The Nikon D700 can be likened to an amplified and menacing cartoonish slap sound. This camera was a formidable big beast that photographers took to low-light weddings. Back then, when photographers were shooting with it, you knew exactly what it was. I always remember it was loud. During a concert, I discovered that I could still hear the shutter even above the loud sound of music.
Leica M9: nice shutter sounds and mechanical reset
Sweet nothings: Looking back, I realize that the Leica M9 has been misunderstood. But honestly, there were also some issues. Some people have found the shutter sound like thunder. Even stronger was the control mechanism that rearmed the shutter. Imagine the sound of a loudly cracked cookie, followed by the sound of a microwave. This is how it was to shoot with the Leica M9.
Panasonic GF1: Like closing a plastic cover
Sweet nothings: The Panasonic GF1 was Panasonic’s first compact mirrorless camera. Like the EP1, it had a distinctive and beautiful shutter sound. In fact, the whole experience has been pleasant. If you held it, you shot it using the LCD screen. But if you used the optional electronic viewfinder, you heard the shutter more clearly. At the time, the emphasis was on the aesthetics of the rangefinder, and this camera embodied it very well, even down to the shutter.
Olympus OMD EM5: so far it has nice shutter sounds
Sweet nothings: The Olympus OMD EM5 was the first serious Olympus mirrorless camera. It had weather protection, fast autofocus, and was small. Most importantly, he was gorgeous: I still admire him. I remember touring very often with mine. There was a shutter that reminded me of a Voigtlander Bessa. It was hard to hate.