Monday, October 16th, 2017

Understanding Shutter Delay in Digital Cameras

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When using a digital camera to take action photos you will notice that there is a delay between the time you press the shutter button to the time the camera actually takes the photo. In most cases this delay is small enough and not noticeable but when taking action photos, when trying to capture an event that just happened or when trying to capture a moving object this delay can result in a photo that just missed the action. In this article you will better understand what causes the shutter delay and how you can overcome it.

A shutter delay is defined as the time gap between pressing the shutter button to the camera actually capturing the photo. There is no shutter delay in film cameras as in these cameras the shutter button is virtually connected to the shutter itself and holding down the button results in the camera taking a photo immediately. In digital cameras the shutter button is connected to a built-in micro computer and holding down the shutter button initiates a series of events that result in capturing a photo.

When you press the shutter button the camera goes through a series of setup events in order to get all its electronics ready. Only when these events are finished can the camera capture the photo. The time it takes for the camera to complete these events can vary but is usually around one second or so. When taking subsequent photos there is an addition delay as a result of the camera compressing the photo and writing it to the slow flash memory.

Although a circa one second delay does not seem long it can make the difference between capturing an action photo to missing it. Some cameras will also initiate a focus process when the shutter button is held down and will only take the photo when the focus is completed. This can add even more delay.

Although it is impossible to remove the shutter delay in your camera there are few practices that can help avoiding its results. For example many cameras include a burst mode. In burst mode the camera shoots a fast series of photos for as long as the shutter button is held down or until the camera’s memory is full. In this mode the camera writes the photos to a temporary memory which is very fast but small. When the shutter button is released or the memory is full the camera starts the slow process of writing the photos to the flash memory.

Using the burst mode you can shoot fast photos of an action event and then choose the one that best captured the events. The speed and the amount of photos that the burst mode supports vary between cameras. Some high end cameras can take as much as ten photos over the course of one second.

Another delay that is a result of the digital camera technology is the Initial Delay. Most cameras will enter into a standby mode if not used for a certain amount of time. This time can vary but it’s usually in the few minutes range. When the camera goes into standby mode it turns off most of its electronics in order to save power. Usually pressing the shutter button will restart the camera but such a restart process is long and can take a few seconds. The result is a longer delay when taking a photo after the camera was idle for some time. In order to avoid this you would have to make sure that your camera is turned on and does not go into standby mode when taking action photos. Some cameras allow you to disable the automatic standby feature through a menu option. If your camera does not allow that you can keep it on by pressing the shutter button half way down every now and then. The downside of leaving the camera on all the time is wasting battery power. In order to maximize battery life in such scenarios you can disable the camera’s LCD screen which consumes a lot of energy and use the view finder instead.

Another way to minimize the shutter delay is to avoid the automatic focus process which usually starts when the shutter button is held down. One way to do that is to hold the shutter button half way down. In most cameras the result will be a one time focus process and then a focus lock. The camera will stay in focus and when the shutter is fully pressed it will take a photo without re-focusing. Another option is to put the camera in manual focus.

It takes practice to get to know your camera and to get a feeling of the delays it introduces. Although there is no way to completely get rid of the delays you can master overcoming them by practicing taking action photos. New high end professional cameras have a very short delay and as the electronics improve cameras will eliminate the shutter delay altogether.


Digital Photography Success | Web Article Directory

Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Proverbs 29:18

The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2

He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
Psalm 104:10-13

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number living things both large and small.
Psalm 104:24-25

Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.
Ansel Adams

When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!
Ted Grant

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.
Dorothea Lange

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
Ansel Adams

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

You don’t take a photograph, you make it.
Ansel Adams

Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.
Matt Hardy

Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.
Elliott Erwitt

Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.
Imogen Cunningham

You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.
William Albert Allard

If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.
Garry Winogrand

I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good.
Anonymous

Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.
Ansel Adams

It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get.
Timothy Allen

 


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