Watch: Get Up Close and Personal with a DSLR Shutter to Find Out How It Works

Oh, so that's how DSLR shutters work.

Unless you're a camera expert, professional camera repairman, gear head, or some kind of wizard or magician, the mechanics of a DSLR body may be a bit of a mystery to you. But in this short video, photographer and videographer Chris Marquardt takes a close look at the shutter mechanism of a DSLR camera to show us how it and all of its components work together to help you expose images. Check it out below:

I know exactly nothing about the inner workings of DSLR cameras (which is why this video was so mesmerizing to me), so since I'm completely incapable of explaining how shutters work, I'll let Marquardt do the honors: 

Here's how a DSLR shutter works. The first and second curtain are both cocked against spring tension and held back by electro magnets. When it's time to fire the shutter, the electronics release the first curtain, then after the exposure time is up, the second curtain. This is one of the reasons why cameras use up battery during long exposures: the second curtain is still held by an electro magnet.

This information may not help you necessarily make better films, but it will make you a slightly more informed shooter, which is always a good thing. Knowing more about how your cinematic tools work, from features to mechanics, is not only going to help you take better care of them, but it'll help you use them more effectively as well.     

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This is absolutely fascinating. We take it for granted, but to know how it actually works is cool. Thank you!

August 2, 2017 at 11:33AM, Edited August 2, 11:33AM

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Greg Green
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Just to clarify: the mechanical shutter shown here is only used in still photography. The shutter for videography in DSLR's is digitally simulated.

August 3, 2017 at 5:15AM

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Nikola Tzenov
Media Specialist | Adjunct Media Instructor
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