how to diagnose shutter shock?

Started Apr 7, 2014 | Discussions thread
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William Porter
William Porter Senior Member • Posts: 1,730
how to diagnose shutter shock?

I haven't updated the firmware on my E-M1. Before I do, I'd like to take a dozen test pictures in which shutter shock (if my camera + lens combination suffers from it) ought to appear. Then after the update I'll retake the pictures, and compare. Can somebody explain to me what I should do to guarantee that my pictures get "shocked"?

Which lens?

I understand that the lens matters. In addition to the E-M1, I currently have these lenses:

  • Olympus 40-150 f4–5.6
  • Rokinon 85 f1.4
  • Sigma 60 f2.8
  • Olympus 45 f1.8
  • Panasonic 20 f1.7
  • Panasonic 14 f2.5

From the little I've gleaned from other people's reports, my best bet would be to use the 40–150 telephoto zoom, on a tripod with IBIS turned off, at 150mm or close to, with a shutter speed of 1/100th sec. Should that do the trick? Remember, I'm not trying here to avoid shutter shock: I'm trying to produce it.

I gather the general view is that the Rokinon 85 would be a bad choice because it's a fairly heavy lens (by micro four thirds standards). Would you expect the Sigma 60 f2.8 to be prone to shutter shock?

Which shutter speed?

I gather that the acid test for shutter shock requires putting the camera on a tripod — to eliminate possible effects of holding the camera by hand. So I'll put the camera on a tripod and turn IBIS off.

But what shutter speed to use? People reporting shutter shock seem to feel that the danger zone is from about 1/40th sec to 1/200th sec. Slower than 1/40 and faster than 1/200 apparently WILL NOT produce shutter shock. Is that the consensus? So would 1/100 — kind of in the middle of the danger zone — be a pretty reliable way to summon up the shutter shock sprites?

Technical questions

I'd never heard about shutter shock before getting the E-M1 and beginning to frequent this forum. I'd heard of mirror slap when I was shooting SLR and DSLR cameras, and I was aware that my Sony SLTs preferred to use electronic first-curtain shutter and that it seemed to work very well — but I never investigated these phenomena.

I'm curious about why shutter shock appears only within the narrow range of shutter speeds 1/40 to 1/200 (if I've got those speeds right). I've never felt the need to understand in precise detail how the shutter in the E-M1 works, and my ignorance no doubt is making this hard for me. But I don't see how 1/100th sec shutter does produce shutter shock but 1/500th sec does not. I mean, if I throw a tennis ball against a window at, say, 20 mph and the window breaks, then a fortiori if I throw the tennis ball against the window at 30 mph, it's also going to break — unless there's some other hidden variable (like the angle at which the ball hits the window, or something like that).

So my question is, why does increasing the speed of the shutter above (say) 1/200th sec prevent shutter shock?

I understand very well the reciprocal rule for guessing minimum safe shutter speed when handholding telephoto lenses, viz. shutter speed should be equal to or greater than the reciprocal of the focal length. But unless I'm completely missing the point, the claim is that shutter shock is not camera shake — it's internal sensor shake. Isn't that why shutter shock occurs even when you place the camera on a tripod? The body of the camera on the tripod is completely stable but the innards of the camera (specifically, the sensor) still get bounced around slightly because of the momentum of the shutter. Is that right?

Which leads me to one last question. If shutter shock occurs because the innards of the camera are prone to shaking (even if the outer body is sitting firmly on a tripod), then why would it make a difference whether the lens being used is big and heavy or small and light? I'm well aware that a heavier camera is easier to keep stable when I'm shooting hand-held. But if the camera is on a tripod and I'm just trying to jiggle its intestines, why does it matter how big a nose it's got?

Finally, what to look for?

Last question: After I've taken my test shots, what exactly am I looking for as proof of the presence of the shutter shock? The problem seems to be a subtle one, a problem that you have to look closely to see. So say I'm looking closely? What should I see, if shutter shock is present?

I'm not a "shutter shock denier". A number of experienced posters in this forum (some of whom I know to be excellent photographers) claim to have the problem, and I don't doubt them. But I've read thread after thread in which somebody posts a photo that, to my eyes, on my laptop display, looks fairly decently sharp, but about which the poster is saying "Shutter shock has ruined this photo!"

So what should I look for? Is it basically just a slight or subtle softness in the photo?



 William Porter's gear list:William Porter's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Olympus PEN-F Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 +10 more
Olympus E-M1
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