It's on phones, and it's also used in TV and media, but where does the sound actually originate? On phones, iPhones especially, taking a picture or a screenshot will result in that sort of "click" noise.

Where does that noise come from?

At one point in history was there actually a camera that sounded like that?

I ask this because I own several SLRs from the 50s, 60s, and the late 70s, and none of them make that noise.


From the horse's mouth...

A quote from Jim Reekes, creator of the Mac startup & camera sounds [amongst other things] from his own site -

The Story of Sosumi and the Mac Startup Sound

One of the other sounds I created for the Mac is the one you hear when you take a screen shot (press Cmd-Shift-3). This is also more well-known as the sound you hear when taking a photo on the iPhone and iPad.

It is a recording of my trusty old Canon AE-1 from the late ’70s.

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    Video demonstrating the authentic sound in action: youtube.com/watch?v=zfaaoZueKOI – mattdm Mar 31 '17 at 21:44
  • Your answer covers the iPhone, but what about the TV shows and movies mentioned in the question? Many of which include the sound of a film winder? – Michael C Apr 2 '17 at 2:11

They use the sound in shutterless electronic cameras because it mimics what an actual shutter sounds like. For decades people grew accustomed to the sound of a shutter when taking a photo , so when electronic shutterless cameras came along they added the sound so people would know that a Photo has been taken. An slr and dslr DO have a shutter and that is what you hear when you take a photo.


Most versions I've heard are quite similar to an old pentax I used in the 90s (with an accessory motor drive that was quite audible) . It usually sounds more like mirror slap at the beginning than just the click of a compact with a leaf shutter. I suspect you could find a few film clips with SLRs being used that have a very similar sound (press conference in a political drama perhaps) and that's what they're trying to sound like.

  • Except the sound effects in the political drama are probably not the same as the sounds made by the camera that appears on screen... – Michael C Mar 31 '17 at 13:47
  • @MichaelClark indeed. I thought about mentioning that. The sound has to match what's happening on screen though. I actually recorded the pentax I mentioned for use as a sound effect (maybe I've still got a .wav on a floppy disk somewhere). – Chris H Mar 31 '17 at 15:04
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    I've seen plenty of examples where the motor winder or motor drive sound didn't match the camera pictured without a motor attached.. – Michael C Apr 1 '17 at 5:39

Most of the ones I've noticed in movies or TV programs sound like a pro SLR from the 1970s-80s with motor winder attached. What you hear is mirror slap followed by the film being advanced at about 2 fps. Slower motor winders are not to be confused with higher speed motor drives. Both winders and drives were available for many pro models back then.

Don't be too hard on the camera and phone makers that include the sound effect. Even the Lyre bird thinks it's cool enough, both without and with the motor winder, to include it in its song. (Check it out at 1:50-2:15)

The "Apple" shutter sound is just a simple click of a shutter and mirror movement. There is no whine of a motor winder included with it.

I've seen and heard early point and shoot digital cameras and non-Apple phones that had either version - with or without the motor winder - coming from a small speaker.


It's just a generic camera sound. That's all it is. I think you're overthinking this a bit. It may have never even been a real camera sound at all. It could just be a recording played by an electric SLR, probably used around the 80s. Later it could have been imported to early digital cameras, (1.0 MP) then put on flip phones, Blackberrys, iPhones, Androids and so on.

  • On a photography site, I think you'll find there's no such thing as a 'generic camera' - all cameras are quite specific ;) – Tetsujin Mar 31 '17 at 20:14
  • Most early digital cameras just beeped, they didn't have a proper shutter sound. – vclaw Mar 31 '17 at 20:25
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    My Olympus C-5060 could play a shutter sound effect, but amazingly this actually introduced shutter lag you could avoid by turning off the effect! – mattdm Mar 31 '17 at 21:47
  • Maybe it just took that long and that much noise to reset the shutter, but early EOS Digital Rebels sounded like there was a motor winder operating with each shutter actuation. I could find no way to turn that sound off with my Rebel XTi. – Michael C Apr 1 '17 at 6:58

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