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I'm using a Canon 5D MkIII and I've been exceptionally pleased with the results of the 'new' single/continuous silent shooting functionality.

I'd like to know what the difference between silent and non-silent shooting is. Does it affect image quality at all? As far as I can tell, the only difference is to do with the speed that I can shoot at. Is there anything else?

I'm also interested to know what the difference between Silent LV (Live View?) shooting Mode 1, Mode 2, and Disabled is.

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Duplicate of photo.stackexchange.com/questions/38829/… ? –  matt.nguyen May 6 '13 at 6:29
    
@matt.nguyen i wouldn't say duplicate, related perhaps... –  NULLZ May 6 '13 at 11:27
    
You know, you could read the manual for a basic understanding of the silent modes... –  dpollitt May 6 '13 at 14:56
    
@dpollitt long since lost... –  NULLZ May 6 '13 at 15:07
    
@D3C4FF - Searching Google for "Canon 5D mkIII manual" is pretty easy. You can download it right from Canon, or many many other resources. I'm not suggesting that this question should be closed, as now the answers have elaborated much more than the manual. But for a basic understanding(which isn't shown in the original question), the manual clearly provides that. –  dpollitt May 6 '13 at 15:23

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Silent shooting mode does not affect Image Quality in any way. Rather, it affects the way your 5D mkIII cycles the mirror and shutter curtain for each shot you take.

The silent mode single option uses a slower speed to move the mirror up out of the light box. The first curtain opens, and then the second curtain closes as normal. But then, nothing else will happen until you release the full press of the shutter button. When you do, the mirror will drop back down, again at a reduced rate, and the shutter curtains will reset. This is very useful when shooting tennis or golf. You can expose a frame virtually silently at the height of a competitor's back swing and hold the shutter down until they have struck the ball and then release the button and allow the mechanisms to reset.

The silent mode continuous option is similar, but goes ahead and allows the mirror and shutter mechanisms to reset at a slower, and quieter rate. This reduces maximum frame rate from 6 fps to 3 fps.

In Live View the options are similar, but the mirror stays up as long as you are in Live View and are using Contrast Detection Auto Focus:

Mode 1 opens the first curtain prior to the shot and electronically exposes the sensor from top to bottom (bottom to top of the inverted image). For each frame exposed, the only sound is the second curtain closing and then resetting for the next shot.

Mode 2 is a single shot mode. The shot begins just like Mode 1. but once the second curtain closes it doesn't recycle until the full press of the shutter button is released.

Disable allows shooting with Canon's Tilt-Shift lenses or when using extension tubes.

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You try to be quiet when shooting a golf swing as the token spectator yells "ITS IN THE HOLE!"? :P –  dpollitt May 6 '13 at 15:03
    
It might just be my imagination, but I think the silent shooting drive modes (ie not the Live View modes) also introduce a little more shutter lag. So you may want to stick to one or the other to get used to the shutter lag if you need to capture moments precisely. –  drfrogsplat Jan 30 at 4:34
    
What you are calling 'shutter lag' is the time it takes the mirror to swing up out of the way (discussed in the lead sentence of the second paragraph). Since the mirror moves at a slower speed it will obviously take longer to go from fully down to fully up. –  Michael Clark Jan 30 at 7:29

The silent mode is wonderful for situations where you need to limit noise. It comes at the expense of a slower mirror movement and thus more shutter lag and slower continuous shooting.

I know the manual also talks about the difference between the Silent LV modes (yes, it is live view). Personally, those ones I didn't remember anything about because I literally never use LiveView for any photos.

Update: For LV modes 1 allows 6fps continuous while mode 2 only allows single shots. Not sure what if there are differences in what it does beyond that. That is apparently all the manual says.

From some more reading, it appears that Mode 2 doesn't reset the shutter until you let go of the button. Thus it spreads the shutter sounds out more.

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A bit of playing with it when I had my hands on a 5d3 when they came out seemed to indicate mode 1 doesn't go back to live view until you've let off the shutter for a while, while mode 2 goes back to live view pretty much immediately. –  cabbey May 6 '13 at 5:00
    
@cabbey - perhaps Mode 1 delays the shutter resetting by a set time while Mode 2 does it as soon as you let go of the shutter button. –  AJ Henderson May 6 '13 at 13:02
    
yeah @aj-henderson, that's what it felt like. If you fire off another shot during that delay, it just ripples the curtain and doesn't have to do the whole mirror and all. –  cabbey May 6 '13 at 16:43
    
@cabbey Live view shooting shouldn't be moving the mirror at all since the mirror is already locked up. –  AJ Henderson May 6 '13 at 17:44
    
er, yeah. Brain fart there. Meant open the shutters and put the ccd back into live view mode. –  cabbey May 7 '13 at 14:25

Silent shooting has nothing to do with image quality. It is all about the quality of your personal impact on the event you are shooting. With quiet shooting, you can have a minimal impact on that wedding, allowing the Bride, Groom, and audience to watch that final kiss...without the loud, distruptive "CLAT CLAT CLATTER" of a slapping mirror. Same goes for concerts, school plays, or any other event you can think of where a quiet camera might be critical to the overall performance of whoever or whatever it is you are photographing.

Not about IQ, all about you. :)

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I'm curious — what does it do? How silent is it? –  mattdm May 6 '13 at 1:53
    
@Mattdm Well, lets put it this way, i've taken photos of security guards from a few meters away at the dead of night and they haven't noticed it... –  NULLZ May 6 '13 at 1:55
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I'd second that it is very quiet. I was showing off at my sister's wedding by using the silent mode. You can still tell a photo is being taken if you know what to listen for, but if people are talking, they probably won't hear it over conversation. –  AJ Henderson May 6 '13 at 3:10
    
@mattdm It flaps the mirror more slowly, so there's less noise when the mirror crashes to a stop. Here's a comparison: youtube.com/watch?v=Rup3T6j_r9s In silent LV mode, it doesn't flap the mirror at all, and uses an electronic shutter in place of the first shutter curtain, so shutter noise is reduced by half - the only noise is the second curtain closing and opening again. (From a 7D review, assuming the 5D version works the same.) –  j-g-faustus May 6 '13 at 5:20
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The mirror is moved up in quiet mode in a different way, and Canon designed some kind of buffering latch mechanism for the mirror that nearly eliminates the "slap", and makes a nearly silent (whisper-level) "thud". The shutter still makes noise, and I gather that in normal shooting (with the OVF, rather than live view), the full shutter with both curtains still does its thing...so 40-50dB sounds about right. Quiet mode does slow things down a bit, but the overall "aesthetic" of the sound is just less jarring, softer, more appealing...even if it is still 50dB, it doesn't "feel" that loud. –  jrista May 6 '13 at 6:17

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