Oct 01 2007

Why is my Digital Camera so slow?

Published by at 10:24 am under Tips and Ideas

One of the most common complaints that I hear from friends who have bought a digital camera is “Why is my digital camera so slow?”. They push the shutter release button and nothing happens for a second or two. This is called shutter lag.

What is Shutter Lag?

Shutter lag is the time it takes the camera to respond to your clicking the shutter release button. On most cameras it is caused by two processes.

The first process is the camera getting ready to take the photo. It has to measure the amount of light available and focus on the subject. If your camera is set to an automatic mode it takes into account the amount of light available and uses this to determine the shutter speed and the aperture setting. Your digital camera also has electronic circuits that help it to focus on the subject. If your camera has manual settings and you are using one of them, then this affects how the settings are determined. All of this takes time. In general, more expensive cameras can make these determinations quicker.

The second process is the camera actually taking the photo. This is normally a faster process than the first one, but can still take time on a lower-priced camera.

What can you do to eliminate this shutter lag?

Here are 6 suggestions for eliminating or reducing shutter lag.

Buy a Better Camera

One simple method is to buy a better camera. However, let’s work with what you already have.

Be Ready

If you see a good photo opportunity coming, anticipate the shot and through experience you will know when to press the shutter.

Depress The Shutter Half Way

On every digital camera that I have ever held you can press the shutter half way down to force it to pre-focus. This usually also causes the camera to check the exposure reading. Now the camera has almost everything it needs to take that shot. When you are ready press the shutter the rest of the way and the photo should happen very quickly.

Turn Auto Focus Off

Since the focus segment of the process takes the most time, let’s eliminate it. Many, if not most, modern digital cameras allow you to turn off the auto focus. If you are going to be taking a photo where the distance to the photo will stay the same throughout the process, you can easily do a manual focus ahead of time and thereby eliminate much of the lag.

Turn off your Flash

Your camera may be using its flash even during daylight. This is called fill flash. In order to determine how much flash to provide, your camera has to do more calculations. These take time. Another factor when taking indoor shots where the flash is required is a feature called red-eye reduction. This feature will cause the flash to go off more than once, causing many people in the photo to end their pose. I find the best solution to this is to either turn off the red-eye reduction or warn people about the additional flashes.

Take Lots of Photos

This is not the best solution especially if you do not have many memory cards. You should also read a previous posting at http://photosbyrichard.comeandread.com/tips/cheap-memory-cards/. It is better to use the other methods that I mentioned above. I must admit, though, that I have done this.

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