Shutter Release Modes
Your digital camera will offer a selection of shutter release modes, which determine the timing of the picture being taken. Here we look at how to make use of these shutter release modes to always ensure the perfect shot.
In normal use you press the shutter button, the camera takes a picture, you press it again and it takes another one. But there are other options available through the shutter release modes menus.
This is the default drive shutter release mode on your camera, and is ideal for general use. Press the shutter button to take a picture, then release. When you want to take another picture, do the same again.
The self timer provides a delay between you pressing the shutter button and the picture being taken – typically ten seconds. This allows you just enough time to press the shutter then run around to position yourself so that you can be in the picture too.
Some cameras also offer a two-second self timer. The purpose of this is not for self-portraits (you’d need to be a fast runner for this!) but for use with long shutter speeds, with the camera on a tripod or a stable surface. The two-second delay allows for any movement of the camera caused by you pressing the button to have settled before the shutter actually opens.
Continuous drive mode is designed for shooting moving subjects, and enables the camera to shoot several images per second in a non-stop burst. The precise number depends on the camera, but with DSLRs it should be at least 3 frames per second (fps), with some more-expensive models more than doubling this speed. A few compacts can shoot short ultra-high speed bursts of up to 60fps.
To use continuous mode, select the mode on the dial or in the menu (depending on the camera) and, at the optimum moment, press and hold the shutter button down. The camera will keep taking pictures until you remove your finger, or you fill up the media card or buffer (the temporary storage space in the camera when pictures are held until they’re saved to the card).
A few cameras feature an intervalometer, which can be set to automatically take a picture at pre-set intervals, from seconds to hours. The resulting time-lapse images can then be joined together to show, say, a flower opening, or the passing of clouds overhead.
On some cameras the ability to trigger the shutter remotely is one of the drive mode options. A wireless remote control can be not only a more versatile alternative to the self timer (allowing you to fire the shutter at a moment of your choosing, and then take more shots without having to return to reset the camera) but it also has many creative uses.
For example, in wildlife photography you can set up the camera close to, say a nest, then retire to a safe distance where you won’t frighten off your subject. You can attach cameras to unlikely and inaccessible places such as the outside of a car, and fire them remotely. Many cameras also offer the option to attach a wired remote release.
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