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Let your images speak volumes with the D850 silent photography feature

Ever found yourself shooting in situations where you need to be as quiet as possible?

In event, wedding, or sports photography (for example, at the starting line of a race), or even taking photos of wildlife, hearing the shutter of your camera can be distracting to the subject or occasion. The ability to turn on the silent photography feature of a DSLR like the Nikon D850 in these situations can be a major advantage. It can assist in capturing the right moments without disrupting your subject’s attention.

But what are the benefits of silent photography – when and how should one use it? Additionally, what is unique about the D850’s silent photography function?

Using silent photography – when and how

These days, many DSLRs have a quiet mode that separates the sound of the shutter from the mirror flap, with the mirror flipping down slowly once the finger is removed from the shutter button. This function works well to create fewer distractions in a quiet situation.

However, silent photography – which relies on an electronic shutter to capture images – takes things up another notch with its mirrorless movement that leads to no vibration, creating a virtually silent image-capture. In addition to taking photos silently, the capability of a camera’s silent mode is also tested when it is used to shoot images at a high resolution and at a continuous speed.

This technique is commonly used in:
Wildlife and street photography – when no shutter-release sounds are helpful in preventing subjects from moving away or reacting drastically different, to best capture the subject in its natural environment.
Church weddings, conferences, sports and government/parliamentary events – where silence is vital at these quiet occasions to avoid distraction and loss of focus, while ensuring that images captured retain their sharpness and quality.

Setting the D850 apart from the rest

Without the tiniest bit of mechanical vibration at shutter release, sharper images can be taken at 45-megapixel resolution on Nikon D850 – currently the highest quality in the industry, making it perfect for capturing details in astrophotography, macro photography or architectural photography. This quality is also further enhanced by the D850’s ISO expansion; depending on the environment where one is in, the camera’s flash will not be required in certain situations.

Users will also not have to worry about too low of a burst rate when shooting in silent photography mode – at a fixed AF/AE mode, approximately 6-fps continuous shooting is achievable with the D850, which is effective for sports photography that requires silence such as when a golfer is reading the green and slope, or during putting.

Silent continuous shooting on D850 at approximately 30fps with captures of 8.6MP images for up to approximately 3 seconds is also available, with the camera’s setting on fixed image area at DX-format, and image quality at JPEG Normal. Apart from still photography, the silent photography mode on the D850 can also be used for time-lapse videos.

Typically, photographers would be concerned about doing time-lapses because it means rapidly using up their shutter counts during the time frame they have set their intended time-lapse duration. For example, if a photographer set the camera to capture still images at 1-second intervals for 30 minutes, that would mean 60 frames x 30 min = 1,800 shots would have been captured – contributing to the shutter life of the camera.

The Nikon D850, however, stands out from its competitors in this aspect as it offers users silent interval timer photography without having to worry about shutter durability, and thus extending the camera’s mileage with zero mechanical shutter movements.

Tips and tricks for silent photography

Despite the benefits that come with silent photography, it is worth noting that shooting moving objects with silent photography is not recommended as rolling shutter distortion may occur. The issue arises because the sensor does not record the entire frame all at once, but rather line by line across the image all the way down the sensor.

To alleviate this, users should switch to auto-focus mode on their camera lens for shots that depict a lot of movement or have subjects that are constantly shifting in and out of focus.

Although the loud click of a DSLR going off may not be one of the most prominent concerns in photography; photojournalists, concert, wildlife, wedding and street photographers value the silence in their work to best capture subjects in their natural settings, with the least intrusion as possible.

Overall, striking the balance between silence and quality photography, coupled with shutter durability when it comes to time-lapse photography, has proven to be one of the unique features of the D850.