3 Reasons to Disable Your Camera's Auto-Review Function

3 Reasons to Disable Your Camera’s Auto-Review Function


Whether you have an iPhone, a pocket camera, or a DSLR it’s likely that the first thing you do after taking a picture is peek at the back LCD screen to see how it turned out. Did you capture that flawless sunset glow? Is that flower petal perfectly in focus? Was everyone in the group photo smiling?

The simple act of looking at the LCD screen (sometimes referred to as ‘chimping’) seems so natural that we often don’t give it a second thought, and nearly every camera has this auto-review function turned on by default. Ironically, turning this off can have a can have a profound impact on your photography, and I’d like to share three reasons below you might want to disable it.


1. It makes you more confident

I have been shooting without the auto-preview on my camera for a long time, but when I first made the decision to disable it I was kind of a nervous wreck.

  • How will I know if my shot turned out?
  • What if I didn’t get the exposure right?
  • Don’t people expect me to check to see if I got the photo?

I asked myself all sorts of questions like that, while remaining determined to leave the auto-preview feature off, and much to my surprise these thoughts quickly faded. It’s a weird feeling to take a picture and not have it instantly show up on the back screen of your camera, and at first I found myself constantly clicking the Review button to check my photos anyway.


Rather than checking my camera after each shot, I trusted my instincts and experience to get the photo right. This also made it possible for me to simply pay more attention to the duck and my surroundings.

I soon found myself looking at my shots less and less, and instead relying on my knowledge of composition, framing, and a proper reading of my camera’s light meter to get the picture right from the beginning. I learned to pay more attention to my exposure settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO and started to trust my instincts as a photographer instead of snapping a few pics, checking the back screen, snapping a few more, checking again, and…well, you know the pattern. If you have seen the first Star Wars movie you might remember the end when Luke Skywalker switches off his targeting computer and decides to trust his instincts (or The Force) instead of relying on technological gimmicks, which is a bit like disabling the auto-review feature on your camera.

Not having your pictures automatically appear after every shot might seem scary at first, but the less you rely on constantly checking to ensure you got things right, the more you will find yourself growing confident in your ability as a photographer. It’s similar to learning to ride a bike without training wheels, and the extra step of actually pressing the Review button requires just enough effort that you will probably stop doing that most of the time too. Fortunately if you do decide that you want to check your shots, they’re all just a button press away.

I knew I would not be back at this location for at least a year, but I shot this using f/8 and a low ISO and never looked at the photo until I got home 400 miles later. The photo turned out precisely how I wanted.

I knew I would not be back at this location for at least a year, but I shot this using f/8, 1/1500 second, ISO 280 and never looked at the photo until I got home 400 miles later. The picture turned out precisely how I wanted.

2. It helps you be more present in the moment

Have you ever had dinner with someone who was constantly checking his phone? Or been at a meeting where one person is clearly focused on texting her friend rather than talking to her coworkers? It’s obvious that these people were not engaged with what was going on around them, and their behaviour probably made you more than a little annoyed. Likewise, having the auto-preview enabled on your camera can turn you into the photographic equivalent of the chronic phone-checker; someone who is more interested in looking at his or her electronic gadget,s rather than being a part of the events around you.


Because I was giving this girl my undivided attention instead of looking at the back of my camera, the two of us were able to just goof around and have fun, while also getting some good portraits.

Consider this scenario: Your kids are playing with their cousins at the park, and you’ve brought your trusty DSLR along to document the afternoon. But you’ve got the auto-preview turned on, so after every shot you find yourself looking down at the LCD screen on your camera instead of watching the kids play and have fun together. It might not seem like a big deal, but to the little ones around you this constant shoot-check-shoot-check routine sends the message that your camera is more important than their swinging, sliding, or slipping around on the sand.

Or maybe you’re out with your camera and tripod for an evening of landscape photography, but after each one you meticulously examine the rear LCD screen to see if you got it just right. Every second you spend poring over your pictures is a second you are not enjoying the sights and sounds of the scenery around you, and that time adds up.


Watching these kids at a horse show was so much fun I did not want to spoil it by looking at my camera after every shot.

By disabling the auto-preview you will learn to not only trust your instincts and build confidence in your abilities, but simply be more present in the world around you. You will find yourself worrying less about whether you got the perfect photo of your kids playing or snapped the ideal landscape, and instead start enjoying the squeals and screams of the children or feeling like a part of nature rather than an observer of it. Remember, you can still use the review button to check your shots! You will just learn to use it more intentionally rather than as the default.

Surprisingly, a recent study suggests that people who are busy snapping pictures of a given event are less likely to remember details of the event than those who took no pictures at all. Although the researchers did not specifically investigate whether the effects of constantly peeking at the screen to look at photos had any affect on the outcome, I think it would be safe to conclude that doing so would serve to take you out of the moment even more than if you were just taking photos and not looking at the screen. Suffice to say, the seemingly harmless act of checking the rear LCD screen on your camera can have a greater impact than it might appear, and disabling the auto-preview is a good first step in helping you experience moments instead of just capturing photos of them.


By just having fun and not concentrating on whether I nailed the perfect shot, my brother and I were able to just have fun and enjoy the afternoon while we played with his son.

3. It brings back the magic of shooting with film

Do you remember the days of shooting film when you had to wait days, or even weeks, to see if your pictures turned out? The excitement of dropping off your rolls of film, the anticipation of getting them back, and the nervous elation as you saw your images come to life in your hands is something that has been all but lost in the modern era of instantaneous photography. Even though I can check the back of my camera as much as I want, I have found myself not reviewing my pictures at all until I pop my memory card into my computer many hours or even days after I’m done shooting. More than bringing back a bit of nostalgia, this process has made me a much more intentional shooter. I think carefully about the photographs I want and how to capture them, I spend time being present in the moment, and most of all I don’t worry so much about my photos. I get the shots I get, and if I find out a few days later that I did not nail a photo how I wanted to, I use it as inspiration and a learning opportunity.


This was one of those times when I did have to review every shot because my depth of field was so shallow that I had to be sure I was getting the right part of the fence in focus.

I want to make clear that I don’t think you should stop using the LCD screen to review your shots altogether, especially if you are a professional, or semi-professional, who takes on photo jobs for money. It’s important to know when to review and when not to. If I’m doing a portrait session there are many times when I stop to check and look to see if I nailed the focus or the lighting worked out how I wanted it to. I’m not saying you should never look at the back of your camera to check your photos, but that you might want to reconsider whether you have the camera automatically show them each time you click the shutter.

Of course, if you shoot mirrorless, or with any other camera that has an electronic viewfinder, much of this article is kind of a moot point. But, the overall lesson remains intact; don’t look at your photos so much when you’re taking them.

What about your experience? Do you use the auto-preview, or have you disabled it? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Simon Ringsmuth is an educational technology specialist at Oklahoma State University and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for photography on his website and podcast at Weekly Fifty. He and his brother host a monthly podcast called Camera Dads where they discuss photography and fatherhood, and Simon also posts regularly to Instagram where you can follow him as @sringsmuth.

  • I’d like to, Marco! I’ve got my eye on a Fuji X-T1, but until that happens I’m still living in the land of optical viewfinders 🙂

  • This is sort of what I was trying to get at also, Keyur. When I first started photographing I would follow the same pattern you mentioned: shoot-chimp-shoot-chimp-etc. I didn’t know how to control my camera and how to intentionally create the shots I was looking for, so I kind of shot in the dark (so to speak) and hoped my pics turned out right. Constantly checking the viewfinder was my way accidentally getting the pictures I was looking for, which sometimes would pass me by because I was looking down at my camera so often.

    I don’t see anything wrong with using the LCD screen to check shots when necessary, but now that I am more experienced I actually find it quite liberating to not look at the screen as much. As you said, it forces me to be more focused on the current shot 🙂

  • This is one of the main reasons I switched the auto-preview off, David. With it on, I could hardly resist the temptation to continually look at my photos as I snapped them. But like you said, critical moments ended up passing me by because I was too busy looking at my camera and not the scene in front of me! I still use the screen to check shots when necessary, but not after every single one.

  • Mary Flores

    Welcome back to photography.

  • El_Fez

    I’ve been shooting film since 2010 and not second guessing myself has made me a stronger photographer, without a doubt!

  • Andrew Nixon

    Completely disagree also. We are in the digital age and the simple ability of being able to review the shots you have just taken can make the difference between driving a 300 mile round trip for a shoot and it being successful because you’ve looked at what you’ve taken, rather than a total wasted trip.

    I mean, come on, these tools are there to help us get the most out of our digital camera, bloody use them to their full potential.
    Sorry, but people who are stuck in the film era will get left behind, fact, its a dying art, and will continue to die as our technology gets even better.

  • Istvan Matyus

    It may happen that persons shut their eyes right in the moment you take the shot…. See what I mean…?

  • Swaranjeet Singh

    I am not sure I agree entirely.

    I do not check each and every shot I take but I do check once in a while. There are occasions when one feels a bit unsure (the conditions were challenging to start with) or the shot is too critical (important) or slightly away from normal (a very long exposure for example) but once one is into a particular shooting spree one does not check everything of course, far from it. But we change locations, the lighting changes and we can be forgetful (at my late age particularly) that we made a specific change to the settings for a specific shot – monochrome mode for example or a square aspect ratio. Then sometimes, just as you click something untoward happens and one is not sure if you got a limb of that tourist who suddenly almost walked into your frame and so on and so forth.

    It is one thing to say that looking back at every shot one takes is a sign of lack of confidence and quite another to suggest that one needs to turn off the review as a vote of self-confidence in oneself.

    By the way, I thought it was going to be about extending battery life 🙂

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  • No, no, no, no. I shoot events. As the light changes, so does my exposure (by a lot). Things happen fast. I am inside, then outside, then back inside. Flash is on, I turn it off, I turn it back on. I need the instant feedback: the histogram is my best friend. Come here histogram, I want to give you a big hug.

    When I shoot macro or fish-eye up close, I need to see what is actually in focus vs what I thought was in focus (they can be wildly different). I shoot in f2.8/f4 a lot. With that DOF, I need to be spot on; and that means double-checking. Even when I shoot long exposures, I need to see what actually happened; is the shot blown out or almost black? Do I dare wait until I get home to unravel the mystery? No thanks!

    When I assume that I have the shot without looking to check, I am wrong at least 25% of the time. I know that it is a lot of work to stop and check to make sure that I got the shot that I wanted, but that “extra step” is well worth it for me. I cannot go back later; my clients expect the best from me. I NEED to see the feedback even if I only check every 5th shot. Perhaps for some shooters, they can get it right without verifying on the spot. If that is you, I am happy for you. But don’t even try to take away my LCD screen.

  • I can shoot for 4-6 hours straight on one battery. I also carry a second fully charged battery, I have only had to use the 2nd one one time.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Bruce, and I appreciate hearing from someone who has such a great deal of personal experience with shooting events. Perhaps I didn’t phrase things correctly in my post, but the point I was trying to make was that it might be good to disable the auto-review function. Not to stop checking the LCD screen altogether! Like you I often find myself checking to see if I nailed focus or got my exposure right, but it has become an intentional move on my part. If I leave the auto-review turned on I find myself spending way too much time looking at the screen and not taking pictures 🙂

  • Point taken. Checking your shots too much can take your eyes off of the action. I guess that some kind of balance is needed.

  • Patrick G. Welch

    It’s a bit like using a spell checker, if it helps you spell better, then use it.

  • KC

    This is a surprisingly controversial topic. There’s pros and cons. Since I have only mirrorless cameras I’m pretty much seeing the effects of any settings live – to a degree. The screens auto adjust for ambient light. Exposure accuracy review isn’t all that accurate. If I turn that off, the screen can get a little dim. It’s just something to be aware of. In a bigger sense. It’s just a tool, like depth of field preview.

    From a more practical sense, it’s not all that easy to really know if a shot works in 2 seconds and it does drain the battery a bit. Given a choice, I’d rather tether to the editing computer. The point I’m heading to, softly, is the review screen isn’t all that accurate. If you’re shooting Raw, you’re seeing a JPEG, on a screen that has an unknown color-space, that may auto-adjust for ambient light.

    I’m not saying I don’t do it from time to time.

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