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My first foray into digital photography was with a small Canon point and shoot camera. I immediately fell in love with the medium due to being able to take large amounts of shots at no cost, being able to see shots immediately after taking them and the ease at which I could use the images in different ways.
However there was one one aspect of digital photography that I immediately began to hate – shutter lag.
In the first few shots that I took with my new point and shoot I realized that pressing down the shutter release didn’t mean that the scene that I was looking at would be captured just the way I saw it – there was at least a 1 second delay before the shot was taken.
Most modern day digital cameras have cut down the annoying shutter delay/lag problems significantly. In fact the only camera that I’ve tested with any significant lag has been my new camera phone (the Nokia N95 – which has a 5 megapixel camera in it – but which is annoyingly slow to use). Most point and shoot cameras these days will not have a noticeable shutter lag, however I still get asked about it a lot.
One of the reasons that I suspect many still think they suffer from shutter lag is that they don’t allow the camera time to focus. I realized this earlier in the week when out with a point and shoot user and watching their technique. They would see a scene – lift the camera to their eye and immediately hit the shutter in one jerking movement – expecting an instantaneous result.
Of course the camera needed a moment to focus and the resulting small delay while it did so was labeled ‘shutter lag’ by my friend.
If you’re wanting to capture a moment in timed to the smallest delay possible it’s worth pre-focussing your camera on the scene – before you want to take the shot.
The way to do this is to frame the scene and then push your shutter release down half way. Once you’ve done this – continue to hold down the shutter release half way down until the moment you want to capture the scene – when you’ll press the shutter the rest of the way.
I showed my friend this simple technique and he was amazed at how exact he could get the timing on his point and shoot camera. His ‘shutter lag’ was gone – all he needed to do was learn about pre-focussing.