Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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I just bought the Lumix 35-100/2.8 lens. It focuses and zooms fine, but it makes a tiny weird sound all the time, even when not focusing. I have turned the stabilisation system off and switched to manual focus mode to make sure the lens shouldn’t make any sounds, and still I can hear it. I have also tried the lens on a different camera body, the sound is still there.

It’s not the back-and-forth “woosh” sound of the focus motor, more like constant chirping. It’s very quiet, I have to have my head close to the lens to hear it, but it’s clearly there. It’s hard to record such a quiet sound, but here’s what I have managed to record (amplified).

Is the lens supposed to make such a constant sound when not focusing, with the image stabilisation turned off? All my other lenses are completely quiet when not focusing.

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I don't know for sure, but I wonder if it's adjusting the aperture as it is metering. I've used a Fuji camera which did this (although a firmware update reduced it somewhat) and it's possible you are seeing the same. (See Is a chattering noise normal with the Fuji X-E1 and 35mm F/1.4 lens?).

If this is the case, you should be able to see it -- look into the business end of the lens and watch to see if the aperture is opening and closing along with the sound.

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Thank you! Unfortunately the sound is there even in the aperture-priority mode with fixed aperture, in pitch black room with no light changes and during exposure (tried with 2"). – zoul Nov 21 '13 at 20:42
Yeah, but take a look anyway -- even in aperture priority mode, the aperture is probably actually completely open except when the photo is taken, so that you have more light for the viewfinder and focusing. – mattdm Nov 21 '13 at 20:53
I have hypnotized the business end for several seconds, but seen no sign of the aperture blades moving. – zoul Nov 21 '13 at 20:56
up vote 1 down vote accepted

In the end I took the lens to an official Panasonic service center and the guy there told me that the sound is perfectly OK. He said it could be the OIS motors staying on even when the OIS is off (by design) or something like it. Even another brand new lens in a store made the same sound when I tried it, so it’s probably fine.

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