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I Shutter to Think of It

What exactly happens when you press the button on your camera? What is that clicking noise that everyone listens for, anyhow? And how come I can turn that noise off on some digital cameras?

At the most basic level, a camera is a lightproof box with a covered hole in it. When it comes time to take a picture, the hole's cover needs to move away from the opening for a moment to let light strike a digital sensor (or film, if you're using a film camera). Inside most cameras is a small shutter, which works very much like a set of Venetian blinds you might hang over a window. That shutter hangs over the hole like a drape. When you press the shutter release button to take a photo, the shutter moves aside and lets light hit the digital sensor, and then snaps quickly back into place. Since the sensor in your camera is very sensitive to light, that hole only needs to be uncovered for a fraction of a second in order to let enough light in to make a picture.


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