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How to Use Continuous Shooting Mode on a Digital Camera

Have you discovered the continuous shooting mode (or burst mode) on your digital camera? Most cameras these days have them and if you get in the habit of using it the results can be quite wonderful.
Continuous Shooting

The above sequence was taken by a Flickr photographer by the name of diyosa on her Nikon D50 DSLR which shoots at up to 2.5 frames per second (this sounds a lot but in the scheme of DSLRs its on the lesser end. For example my Canon 20D shoots at 5 frames per second). That means if she activates this mode and then holds her finger down on the shutter she can shoot five shots like the above ones in just two seconds.

In actual fact she took these shots over a longer period (just under a minute) but it illustrates the effectiveness of shooting lots of shots quickly as it’s produced a beautiful series of shots that would look wonderful framed together like this or even in a photo album on the same page.

Continuous shooting Mode isn’t just something that DSLRs have – most point and shoot cameras have it as an option also.

It’s a particularly useful mode for taking shots of any situation where there is movement. Obviously photographing children is one such situation but there are many others including the photography of sport, animals, and even in portrait photography.

When I’m doing a portrait sitting I quite often use continuous shooting mode simply because I find that subjects often relax and look most natural after the first shot that you take and when they lose the ‘posed’ face. Of course the beauty of shooting in a digital format is that even if the second, third and forth frames that you take are not as good as the first – you can just delete them afterwards with no cost associated.

Using Continuous Shooting Mode

It’s worth noting a few things to keep in mind when using this burst mode:

  • Shooting images so quickly means your camera will not usually have time to directly save your images to your memory card. Instead most cameras have a ‘buffering’ system that stores the shot up until you finish shooting. It then sends them to the card. The more shots you take the longer it will take after you stop shooting before you can start shooting again as the process does usually take a fair bit of processing power from your camera.
  • Most cameras have a limit to how many shots they will allow you to take in this mode. For example the Nikon D50 will let you take up to 137 shots (depending upon the size of the images you’re shooting) – this is more than most point and shoots but less than some DSLRs. The number of shots allowed will depend upon numerous factors including the format you’re shooting in (ie RAW files are bigger and you can’t shoot as many in a row) and the size of images you’re shooting.
  • Some cameras have a predetermined number of shots that they will take in ‘burst mode’. ie it might take a sequence of 5 shots instead of just shooting until you release the shutter
  • Obviously the more shots you take the quicker you’ll run out of batteries and the faster you’ll fill your memory card – so shooting all day in continuous mode will mean you will need backups.
  • When shooting a moving image you might need to think about your focussing strategy. Some DSLRs have a continuous focussing feature to help with this but in simpler cameras you might find that the focussing just cant keep up.
  • It can take a bit of practice to use continuous shooting mode in order to get the right number of shots. Some cameras are more sensitive than others when it comes to their shutter release and in some cases it’s difficult to take just a single shot.

Photo Source: The above photo sequence was kindly provided by a wonderful photographer by the name of diyosa. Check out her work here.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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