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Friday, May 11, 2021

In a way, the ascendancy of digital cameras has been something of a battle of tradeoffs. The advantages over old traditional models are obvious: No film to buy/mess with, unlimited number of do-overs, easy electronic transfer for emailing purposes.

The disadvantages? Really only one, and it’s a biggie: Shutter lag, that maddening delay between finger-click and image capture which strains the concept of a quick “snapshot”:

The first problem is that shutter lag is not really shutter lag at all, but processor lag… When the photographer begins to push down the button to snap the picture, sensors in the camera begin to take a series of measurements. The processor calculates the distance to the object, determines the amount of light needed and even does some balancing for color and whiteness. The processor may also have special software to focus on faces, so those calculations are run. In effect, the processor is analyzing a series of images as the button descends.

Which is all a reminder that what you’re pointing-and-clicking with is less camera than it is computer. It’s a specialized-purpose computer accessory, basically.

I’ve had plenty of experience with the dreaded lag, just from using the various camera phones I’ve owned. The delay on those little numbers are really noticeable — like 2-3 seconds. Unless your subject is stock-still, it’s practically not worth it.

There are tricks to compensate:

Photographers offer a few tips on capturing action shots with point-and-shoot cameras. If you can anticipate a shot — for instance, the birthday cake candles about to be blown out — then push the shutter-release button down halfway. Priming the auto-focus gets the process started early. When you push the button down all the way, the camera can process the information more quickly.

Another trick is to point the camera to where the action will occur, push halfway, and when the action occurs, push it all the way. That means you do not follow the subject, you follow the event. In other words, if you are tracking a downhill skier slaloming through a series of flags, aim at the flags, not the skier.

Camera makers also suggested using the burst mode, which quick-fires a series of photos. Shoot the first one in advance of the event and then you probably will capture the significant moment.

Now that I’ve got a new camera to play with, I guess I’ll have to pay more attention to things like this.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/11/2021 09:53:58 PM
Category: Photography, Tech
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2 Feedbacks »
  1. If you’re shooting action, there’s no reason not to use burst mode (the last suggestion) — not with hundreds of photos fitting on a 1gig card.

    Comment by Thud — 05/12/2021 @ 02:51:37 AM

  2. True. That’s another way that digitals have really changed the way you approach photo-taking — no fear of using up expensive film.

    Comment by CT — 05/13/2007 @ 10:45:57 PM

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