Thursday, September 9, 2010

Photography Tips: Shutter Lag

Ever go to take a picture of something with your digital camera and realize that it took a second (or two) for the shutter to open and close after you pushed the button?  Did it take too long and the moment passed without capturing the scene you wanted?  This annoying little delay is known as shutter lag.

Most newer cameras have made a lot of progress in cutting down on shutter lag and it tends to be worse in the older ones.  The best way to avoid shutter lag is to pre-focus your shot.  Aim your camera to the scene you want and press the shutter button halfway down.  The camera will focus on the scene.  The key to pre-focusing is to continue to hold the shutter button halfway down until you are ready to snap the photo...then just continue pushing the button until it's all the way down.  Your photo should then be in focus and you'll notice the chance of shutter lag will be significantly lower.

This technique can also be effective if you can't get your camera to focus on the subject of your photo.  If you just can't get it to focus where you want it, find something else in your frame about the same distance from the camera lens.  Push the shutter button halfway down, keep holding it down, and then frame your shot the way you want.  The key to this is finding something equal distance to the camera lens as your subject...if you try it with something too close or too far away from the lens, your subject most likely won't be in focus.  Equal distance is the key! 

Another instance where pre-focusing can come in handy is if you don't give the camera enough time to focus on your subject.  If you tend to see something you want to photograph and instantly hold the camera up and try to snap the shot, it's going to seem like there is some lag while the camera tries to focus.  This will almost always end up in a disappointing photograph.  Pre-focusing will force you to slow down and give the camera time to focus...which will give you a much better photo.

~ Kara Stewart

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