When turning on my Nikon P7800 it starts to make a strange sound like a little motor. When switching into the picture review mode it stops immediately. Same thing with a Canon SX 200 (or something like this), and some other compacts. But there is no such sounds with my Sony Alpha 57 or the Canon 600D.

I think it might be the zoom motor of the compacts, but then why would it spin the hole time ?

I couldnt find anything with the help of google.

3 Answers 3


It can vary depending on the camera and model.

Mirrored DSLRs have their sensor covered in all times except exposure time. But mirrorless devices (also includes compacts) have their sensor open all the time except picture review mode.

So there can be numerous reasons of hearing that sound.

  • It can be the zoom motor.
  • It can be the autofocusing mechanism.
  • It can be image stabilization motor.
  • It can be shutter.

These voices can be heard at the beginning if the camera has some sort of auto background inspections while starting up the device.

  • On my canon s40 it's was definitely the zoom motor.
    – kofemann
    Feb 6, 2014 at 18:24

It sounds like gyroscopic optical image stabilization. Since a point and shoot requires using the screen all the time, it may leave the stabilization engaged. You can reproduce the same thing when you put a DSLR in LiveView mode if you choose the proper settings. When you go to review mode, the display isn't coming from the sensor, so the stabilization is not needed.

Basically, little tiny gyroscopes start spinning in order to make it so that when you rotate the camera, one of the lens elements keeps pointing things in the same direction. If you are looking at the screen to point the camera and it wasn't doing it, the view would be far more shaky. SLRs don't need to provide the stabilization when looking through the viewfinder because we are much better at working around any movement because our eye is moving with it rather than seeing movement on a stationary screen. Even so, when you half press the shutter, the stabilization will kick in on most DSLRs (when using an OIS lens).


I can only think it might be the image stabiliser mechanism? It may start when you half-press the shutter button, and last for maybe 10 or 15 seconds if you release it. Obviously, in review mode, you're not taking a photo, so it doesn't need it.

You'd hear a similar sound from the lenses of DSLR's if they have IS / VR built in and it is active...

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