Shutter shock explained

However, if you notice that your images are not as sharp as you expected, even though you have taken all possible measures, consider studying the shutter mechanism of your device. Otherwise you will never get a similar result on your camera:

Example of photo without shutter shock

There you could find the fault line, namely, shutter shock. It is defined as the micro-vibration in the mechanism of the first curtain in the shutter that happens when the exposure is initiated.

How and when does it happen? In short, a regular mechanical shutter has two curtains, one of which, the front one, opens when the exposure starts, while the second moves when the exposure ends. And the vibrations from this very front curtain can potentially ruin your image. This can happen in certain shooting conditions — when using the lenses with longer focal length, for example, telephoto lenses, and at a specific shutter speed around 1/100 - 1/2.

Example of shutter on camera

Is it possible to prevent shutter shock

With shutter shock, photography can become a little bit more painful as usually blurry ghosted images are not welcomed. All types of high-resolution cameras, both DSLRs and mirrorless, can in fact suffer from vibrations.

Being aware of this, manufacturers have luckily started to embed a special option to eliminate this effect. It is called EFCS, or Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter. This feature turns off the first curtain, so it stays open ahead of time, doesn’t move, and, thus, transfers no vibrations to the camera body. The exposure starts electronically, hence the name of the function.

However, not all devices have this option, moreover, depending on the gadget, EFCS can work only in specific shooting modes. For example, some DSLRs will only have it in the Live View mode, while some mirrorless cameras can have it turned on for all modes by default. That is why always refer to the manual to find out if your device has the electronic front-curtain shutter and how to enable/disable it.

EFCS benefits and downsides

So you can guess that this function has a number of effects that can improve your shooting experience:

  • it eliminates the undesirable shutter shock;
  • the camera works faster as the time lag between curtains releases is shorter;
  • the shutter mechanism becomes quieter as only one part moves.

While EFCS might seem a must for all the cameras (why would anyone want a shaking device), this feature still has certain limitations:

  • when shooting with a shutter speed faster than 1/2000 and large-diameter lenses, the image might be blurred or ghosted;
  • when shooting with a shutter speed faster than 1/2000, the brightness might be uneven;
  • a lens from another manufacturer might also result in improper exposure when EFCS is on.

To sum up, there are multiple ways to avoid blurry images and many modern cameras have special built-in mechanisms that help make the photos as sharp as possible. However, you should always consult the manual to make sure you use the feature properly.