How to Use Silent Shutter Mode with the Sony a6500

by Tom Shu

When taking photos, different situations call for different settings of the camera. Of course, you can slap your camera on the automatic setting and fire away, but doing so won’t allow you to capture each scene to the best of your ability.

One of the most useful and underrated settings on the Sony a6500 camera while traveling is the silent shutter mode of the Sony a6500. This is especially useful if you’re shooting in a quiet environment, shooting wildlife, doing some street photography, or just don’t want to bring attention to yourself in general.

Most cameras also have a silent shutter setting, but I’m going to cover the Sony a6500 exclusively because that is the baby I use right now.

In this post today, I’m going to go over how to set up silent shutter on the Sony a6500, the restrictions, and limitations when using silent shutter, situations when you might use it, and when not to use it.

 

How to Set Up Silent Shutter Mode on Your Sony a6500

Setting up silent shutter on your a6500 is very simple to do.

The only part that might be a little confusing is navigating the camera’s menu system.

If you’ve been using Sony cameras for any length of time, you know how clunky it can get.

There is a simple switch to turn on the silent shooting mode and you’ll find it under the purple tab with the camera icon and the number 2.

It’s located in subpage 4/9 under the Silent Shooting option.

To make it easier, here are some pictures.

 

1.) Make sure your camera is set one of the M/S/A/P settings. Silent shutter only works when you’re in one of these settings.

Shutter Mode with Sony a6500 - picture 2 - witandfolly.co

 

2.) Hit the menu button on the camera.

Shutter Mode with Sony a6500 - picture 3 - witandfolly.co

 

3.) Navigate to the Camera 2 tab. It looks like a camera icon with the number 2 to the right of it and the background is purple. Looking at this picture might be easier.

Shutter Mode with Sony a6500 - picture 4 - witandfolly.co

 

4.) Navigate to menu 4 within this tab. Your menu title should read”Shutter/SteadyShot – 4/9″.

Shutter Mode with Sony a6500 - picture 5 - witandfolly.co

 

5.) Change Silent Shooting to “on”.

Shutter Mode with Sony a6500 - picture 6 - witandfolly.co

 

6.) That’s it! Your camera is now as silent as a cat walking in the night.

Shutter Mode with Sony a6500 - picture 7 - witandfolly.co



Restrictions When Using Silent Shutter

As I mentioned before, you can only use silent shooting with the Sony a6500 when you’re on the M/S/A/P modes of the camera.

With that said, there are some other restrictions that you will have to watch out for when using the silent mode.

Don’t make the mistake like I did and think you’re silent shooting mode was broken when it was only because the wrong setting was selected.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in some circumstances using silent shooting mode might impact your photos negatively.

After researching I found that many Sony shooters do not recommend using the silent shutter to capture fast-moving subjects as you may get rolling shutter distortions.

Also, certain artificial lights may cause banding to occur.

I have never run into issues with using silent shooting mode, but I thought I should throw it out there.

Its probably because I rarely shoot at that high of shutter speed. So, if you shoot sporting events this is something to watch out for.

Restrictions and Limitations

The following functions are not available for use when you use silent shooting mode:

  • The external flash
  • Auto HDR
  • Any picture effects such as Toy Camera, Pop Color, Posterization, Retro  Photo, Soft High-key, Partial Color, etc.
  • Picture Profiles such as PP1, PP2, PP3, PP4, PP5, etc.
  • Long Exposure Noise Reduction
  • Electronic Front Curtain Shutter Function. Although I have honestly never used this function before
  • BULB mode. In other words, the longest exposure you can have while using silent shooting is 30 seconds.
  • Multi-Frame Noise Reduction. This function enables the camera to shoot multiple images continuously, combines them, reduces noise, and records them as one image. This is not available when quality is set to RAW or RAW+ JPEG, so it shouldn’t be a big deal.

In addition to the functions above not being available, there are also some limitations to keep in mind when you’re using silent shooting mode:

  • Only Continuous Shooting Low can be selected in continuous mode. To give some perspective, Continuous Shooting Low shoots at a maximum of about 2.5 images per second. Continuous Shooting Mid shoots at a maximum about 6 images per second, and Continuous Shooting Hi shoots at a max of around 11 images per second.
  • Areas of the photo that are brighter, can be shown darker on the LCD screen when being displayed. You can get around this by shooting at a higher ISO or adjust the exposure settings.
  • Silent shooting mode will be turned off if you use any apps from the PlayMemories Camera Apps such as Time-lapse, Smooth Reflection, and Smart Remote Control.
  • It will take about 0.5 seconds longer from the time you turn on the camera to the time its ready to go.

 

When to Use Silent Shutter Mode

It’s a good idea to use the camera’s silent shooting mode anytime you want to be quiet when you’re shooting and do not want to bring attention to yourself.

I don’t shoot weddings, but this function would be perfect for shooting wedding ceremonies. Other situations that would benefit from shooting incognito might include concerts, taking wildlife photos, religious ceremonies, street photography, and more.

The list goes on and on.

Take this as an example.

For our most recent short film project, Spirit of Matsu, we were invited to attend a traditional ceremonial event to mark the birthday of Matsu.

This event was very intimate and only select individuals in the community were invited to attend. Our job was to capture both stills and video footage during the ceremony.

I can honestly say the Sony a6500’s silent shooting mode was one of the reasons why we were able to successfully cover this particular event.

Without it, the shutter would have been too loud and we would probably not have been able to take many photos.

 

When Not to Use Silent Shutter

As I mentioned above, there are certain situations when it’s not a good idea to use the silent shutter mode. The two main situations that might cause an issue are:

  • When shooting fast-moving subjects, rolling shutter distortion might occur.
  • When shooting under artificial lighting such as LED or fluorescent light, banding might occur.

Like I said before, these two issues have never been a problem for me during my real-life use of silent shooting, so I’m not going to get into the technical details of what these issues are. I just want to make sure to point it out so you can keep it in mind when you’re out shooting.

If you do want to learn a little bit more about what rolling shutter and banding is, though, PetaPixel has a great article on what rolling shutter is and Jim Kasson wrote a great technical article on banding with silent shooting with the Sony a6300.

Conclusion

The silent shooting mode on the Sony a6500 and Sony Alpha cameras, in general, is one of the best “hidden” features of the camera.

It has come in handy for me in various situations and I find myself using it more and more during my travels.

The function has its negatives too, but if you pay attention to the situation you’re in and remember its limitations, you won’t have any trouble using it.

When do you like to use silent shooting?

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4 comments

Charlie Bardner September 10, 2019 - 10:00 am

Hi Tom,

I am a beginner to photography and really don’t know too much about the different functions of my Sony a6500. After reading a few reviews online I decided to buy this camera, as I am traveling around. I also bought the Sigma 30mm 1.4 and a Sony 18-135mm. I still don’t understand which settings my camera should be set on and even still, I’m not quite sure which lens I should use whilst traveling. I’d like to shoot more portrait/people/ lifestyle photos but don’t know where to start. Is there any advice you can give me?
Thanks.

Reply
Tom Shu September 11, 2019 - 11:05 pm

Hi Charlie!

Thanks for the question and I’m excited for you that you got the Sony a6500! As you might have saw, I’ve used it for a few years now and absolutely love it! If you would like to shoot more portrait/people/lifestyle photos, I would probably have the Sigma 30mm 1.4 on my camera at all times and carry around the 18-135 in case you need the extra length. The reason why I say that is because the Sigma 30mm 1.4 is at a good focal length for most portrait/people/lifestyle shots and you have the much wider F stop so you would be able to throw out the background. The auto function on the camera is pretty good and when you do want to throw out the background at a wider F stop like at F2.0 you can use the aperture priority, which is the A on the top dial. When you use this setting, the camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed based on the aperture you pick. When you get more comfortable, you might also want to think about a 6 stop ND filter for the Sigma for when you want to shoot at a wide aperture during brighter light conditions.

I hope this helps! If you have any other questions just let me know. My personal email is also [email protected] if you would rather reach out to me there.

Best,
Tom

Reply
Anonymous June 12, 2020 - 8:37 am

thanks , i am wanting to take many macro shots and like the idea that there is one more check box to minimize any movement.

Reply
Tom Shu June 12, 2020 - 9:32 pm

You’re welcome and thanks for reading the article! That is a great idea to minimize movement from the camera.

Reply

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