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Why is there a lag between when I press the shutter button and when the picture is taken?
This question addresses shutter lag, a topic that is often a concern among consumers who make the switch from film photography to digital photography. Shutter lag refers to the delay between the time when a camera’s shutter button is pressed and when the camera actually captures an image.
Many factors contribute to shutter lag, but the most significant is auto focus. Auto focus is a great feature that can help you capture clear images in a variety of shooting situations with a minimum of fuss. However, it increases shutter lag because the focus is only sought and obtained after the shutter buton is pressed at least halfway.
Newer digital cameras feature advanced auto focus systems that have greatly reduced shutter lag. You can shave even more time off the shutter lag on your digital camera by taking auto focus out of the equation.
If your camera has a Manual Focus mode, try it. If it does not, you can still alleviate the shutter lag by pre-focusing via the Focus Lock function. To use Focus Lock, simply press the shutter button halfway down once you have composed a shot. The lens will move into position, and the camera will focus. When you press the shutter button completely down to take the shot, the camera will not have to focus, resulting in an appreciable decrease in shutter lag for that shot.
Models that have MyMode are capable of saving the current settings as a custom-shooting mode and making it the camera’s default shooting mode. In this way, you could disable auto focus by forcing the camera to work in Manual Focus mode. (You can always re-enable auto focus from the camera’s menus.) MyMode is convenient because its settings are retained even after the camera is powered off. After creating and saving your settings one time, just turn the mode dial to MyMode whenever you want to use them, and you’re ready to go.
Manually focusing the camera, or pre-focusing via Focus Lock, will bring the shutter lag down to a speed comparable to that of SLR cameras. Just keep in mind that other factors influence shutter lag. Generally, any function that can be pre-set is one less function that the camera must configure during image capture.
A rule of thumb for minimizing shutter lag is this: Don’t shoot in Full Auto mode. Instead, switch to a shooting mode that lets you pre-set functions. Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes give some control to the photographer. Manual mode gives the photographer the most control. Try using these modes more regularly, and watch your shutter lag diminish.
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