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Woman’s Camera Makes Odd, Intermittent Sounds


It’s like that car problem that pops up every once in a while but disappears as soon as you take it to the dealer. Or that computer problem that vexes you but won’t happen when the helpdesk (or your smart aleck nephew) comes to take a look. In other words, one of those problems that make you start to question your sanity. Except this was with a camera. Every once in a while, Asia Montana would raise her dSLR to her eye to take a photo and would hear a pnuematic-like sound, like the sound a bicycle tire makes when air is let out quickly.

It didn’t happen all of the time, just once in a while when she was out shooting. In the beginning, hearing the sound would startle her, and before taking the shot, she would bring the camera down and inspect it. She knew that there were no pneumatic parts on her camera, a Canon 5D Mark III, but it definitely sounded pneumatic. Not finding anything, she get back to the business of taking a photo and sometimes she would hear the sound again, sometimes not. It puzzled her to no end.

So she set about trying to figure it out. A civil engineer, Montana identified and tested a dozen different theories. Was her 24-70 F2.8 pushing air through a channel or past a gasket as she zoomed in and out? Didn’t seem likely. If anything, the sound happened more frequently when she used her 70-200 F2.8 and that lens was internal focus/internal AF. Was there a pressure differential between the front and the back of the mirror? No, the sound often happened before she took the shot, thus before the mirror moved. as there some circuitry that was faulty and thus causing a hissing sound that she confused for a pneumatic sound? It didn’t seem likely since the camera performed fine otherwise.

Having exhausted all theories, Montana sent the camera back to Canon for warranty work. It came back with a clean bill of health.

Sufficiently stumped, Montana thought, “Screw it. Just shoot the damn thing. If it fails, it fails.” And with that she proceeded to load up her Thinktank for an afternoon of shooting. She packed the haunted 5D Mark III with the 24-70 and matched the 70-200 with her older 5D Mark II, threw in her 50mm F1.4 and 85mm F1.8 along with a strobe for good measure and headed out for an afternoon of photographing in lower Manhattan.

She loved this part of the city for some odd reason–the confluence of tourists and business people gave it this odd mix that she enjoyed capturing. Down by the Staten Island Ferry she, stopped to take some shots, and raising the 5Diii to her eye, she hear the sound again. She lowered the camera and thought, “No, just shoot.” And she raised the camera again, once again accompanied by the same sound. It happened again. But this time, out of the corner of her left eye (she’s a right-eyed shooter), she noticed something in the reflection of the glass building across the street. It was a reflection of a fellow photographer, a man, with his mouth wide open. Intrigued, she lowered the 5Diii and the man’s mouth closed. Puzzled, she raised it again and the man’s mouth opened, accompanied by that sound again, a gasp. “What the eff?” she thought to herself. She did it again, this time not even bothering to look through the viewfinder, instead looking out at the sea of camera-wielding tourists. And sure enough, all the male photographers gasped, mouths agape, as she lifted the camera up. Their mouths closed again when she lowered the camera. “I guess they’re don’t expect a woman to know how to use a DSLR!” she joked to herself. Then just for kicks, she raised it again just to make them gasp. Down. Up. Down. Up. It was kind of funny, now that she knew what it was.

Nowadays, Montana will go out shooting with her girlfriends and show them the mouth agape trick. They all laugh and have a good time, and then get on with their shooting.

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