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Nikon D3100 produces sound when I take the photograph. The sound is loud and attention grabbing.

What is the term for this particular sound, and how can I turn it off?

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Are you talking about the mechanical kind of sound or the 'beep'? –  rfusca Mar 1 '12 at 3:48
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PS: congratulations Anisha on getting a DSLR. :) –  mattdm Mar 1 '12 at 4:04
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@BillyONeal This is SPECIFIC to D3100, and also for knowing the term. –  TheIndependentAquarius Mar 1 '12 at 4:08
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(On the duplicate: it's okay for questions where you didn't know the term to be closed as duplicates. They contribute to the site because future people who don't know the term might find this first and then will be directed to the canonical answer. It's all good.) –  mattdm Mar 1 '12 at 4:25
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@Anisha - I've got a D3100, its a fine little camera and you'll take some great pics! Enjoy. –  rfusca Mar 1 '12 at 4:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Just use the Quiet Drive mode on your D3100. It is marked by a Q.

What you hear is the Mirror-Slap and cannot be removed completely unless you change to a mirrorless camera which are extremely quiet. The Nikon 1 J1 for example is ultra-quiet because it does not have a mechanical shutter either, which is the other noise the D3100 does.

To use the Quiet mode, press the shutter has you take the shot and it will do so more slowly than usual. Then, release it slowly, maybe a few seconds later when there is more ambient noise. This reduced the noise from the mirror since it moves slower.

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There's two* sounds on the D3100 - the mirror slap sound and the beep.

The mirror slap occurs when the mirror flips up and down to reveal the sensor rather than redirect the light to the viewfinder. This happens in various degrees in all SLRs.

The beep is an electronic beep that confirms focus. You can disable this in the menus.

The D3100 does not have a common feature called 'mirror lock up' which will rotate the mirror up to take a picture without the mirror moving more. It has 'mirror lock up' listed in the menu, but its strictly a cleaning feature, you cannot take a picture while its active.

Live view on the D3100 doesn't solve this slap either. The camera still flips the mirror around when it takes the picture.

The D3100 does have one feature to help with it. The drive switch on the top right of the camera has a Q on the bottom. This will divide the sound into two stages. Up when you press the button, back down when you release - it makes it appear less noticeable in situations when you need it.

If the noise is a issue for you, this is an advantage of the breed of mirrorless cameras like the Olympus PEN or Sony NEX. There's no mirror, so there's no mirror slap.


  • There is a third sound, the shutter - but its pretty minimal compared to the other.
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It is always nice when manufacturers remove things like this in the entry level models. –  dpollitt Mar 1 '12 at 4:10
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@dpollitt - ya its annoying, the D3100 takes fine pictures, but its been software crippled –  rfusca Mar 1 '12 at 4:12
    
isn't there a third sound, the shutter sound? On the D200 and D70 at least you can tell the camera to simulate the sound of a mechanical shutter. Many older photographers (like me) have that turned on, youngsters often leave it off. –  jwenting Mar 1 '12 at 6:32
    
@jwentig there's definitely a shutter sounds, its just pretty minimal compared to the other two –  rfusca Mar 1 '12 at 6:42
    
@jwenting — Simulate? My D70 has a hybrid shutter (vertically-travelling three-blade-per curtain mechanical focal plane with a top speed of 1/250s, in addition to the electronic CCD shutter used to prematurely terminate recording while the shutter remains open for higher speeds). There is no option to turn it off. It's a much more damped sound than, say, my K-1000 or X700s (which were all-metal cameras with horizontally-travelling cloth curtains and nothing but a thin "lizard skin" wrapping between the works and the world), but the shutter sound is still there. –  user2719 Mar 2 '12 at 4:33

The term is mirror slap. Essentially this is the noise made by the mirror flipping out of the way to allow the image to hit the sensor rather than be visible through the viewfinder.

Another disadvantage to the mirror slap is the added vibration from this action. It can introduce unwanted movement to the camera, and cause issues in long-exposure images.

You can use the mirror lock or live view function of most current DSLRs to avoid this sound, and movement. You also could switch to a mirrorless camera such as a Micro-Four-Thirds camera.

In this Youtube video, you can see comparisons of many current Canon DSLRs mirror slaps. I would say that the 5D MK II is the quietest of the bunch. Although it is not a direct comparison, or necessarily fair, this is an example of the Nikon D3100.

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Don't forget the DSLR world outside of Canon/Nikon. The Pentax K-7 and K-5 are widely regarded (also here) as having one of the quietest shutter/mirror sounds. It's a nice little 'snick' –  mattdm Mar 1 '12 at 3:56
    
I think most of the sound is the mirror not the shutter, but note that the shutter does actually contribute as well. And, on my camera at least (a Pentax K-7, as one might have guessed from the last comment), mirror-lockup doesn't really avoid the problem, because it puts the mirror up on first press of the shutter, and then keeps it there until you press again, at which point the shot is taken and then it drops down again. While each action is a bit quieter, you're doubling the number of times you make noise. –  mattdm Mar 1 '12 at 4:02
    
@mattdm - also..umm, her camera doesn't have mirror lock up.. –  rfusca Mar 1 '12 at 4:07
    
Even when all efforts are made the sound is hard to beat totally: I have a Sony A77 with fixed Pelucid mirror and you can turn off the shutter front curtain and do it electronically, so all you hear is the rear curtain shutter and it's STILL noisier than ideal :-(. –  Russell McMahon Mar 1 '12 at 7:11

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