Will Sony's new proposal phase out mechanical shutters?

Sony Patent
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has filed a patent that aims to introduce a "vibrating device" to its cameras, providing feedback to electronic shutters. 

Last week we wrote that Canon had filed a patent for a similar vibrating component for the Canon EOS R1, which would give haptic feedback when capturing an image. So it's interesting to see Sony's design for a vibrating device to be placed within the camera grip. 

• These are the best Sony cameras right now 

All the best mirrorless cameras now come with a silent shooting mode, which means using the electronic shutter instead of the mechanical one. The issue when using silent mode is that the feedback from the camera is significantly reduced, making it difficult to distinguish if a shot has been captured. That's where vibrations – haptic feedback – can help. 

Mirrorless camera manufacturers are leaning into the capabilities of the electronic shutter. They can provide quieter shooting and faster burst rates and, with no moving parts, wear and tear is less frequent. The Nikon Z9 was released exclusively with an electronic shutter, a statement into the direction camera manufacturers are taking for the future.

(Image credit: Sony)

Still, the lack of tactile feedback when taking a photograph is still a downside. A mechanical shutter provides a 'clunk' from the moving shutter, which provides feedback physically and audibly. Sony's new patent will aim to provide the equivalent for the electronic shutter, but instead, the feedback would be through a vibration sensation in the fingertips.

The patent filed by Sony will place a vibrating device in the camera body, located in the grip below the shutter release button. As an exposure is taken the grip will vibrate your fingertips, enabling you to distinguish when a shot was captured. When shooting silent this would be extremely useful, decreasing the need to check the viewfinder or monitor.

With an increase in vibration, my first thought was camera shake – especially if shooting at a high burst rate for sports or wildlife. An article by Digital Camera Info states that Sony insists this will not be an issue; it has been considered and nullified by the "suppression of image blur", as stated in the patent.

As with all patent proposals, this one may not see the light of day. However, when looking towards the future, tactile feedback like the vibrating device pitched by Sony could be a much more common feature in mirrorless cameras. 

It seems as though manufacturers are set on developing the electronic shutter further, which will see a decrease in the need for mechanical ones. If the only reason we have been holding on to the mechanical shutter is for the nostalgic clunk and feedback, they may soon be phased out. For Sony and Canon, this may be the case with future models.

(Image credit: Sony)

Take a look at the best Sony lenses for Alpha bodies, from the best Sony wide-angle lenses to the best Sony telephoto lenses

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Kalum Carter
Staff Writer

Kalum Carter is a UK-based photographer, writer, and photo editor. Kalum has been working as a freelance photographer for the best part of ten years, covering a wide range of assignments for well-known brands and publications in areas including portraiture, fashion, and documentary. 

Between commercial assignments, Kalum is currently working on a personal photography project exploring his connection to the Gower region of South Wales UK, as part of an MA in Photography from The University of West England.