Burst mode timing

Photo by Kodak

Professional photographers have always used film-based cameras that were capable of  taking several frames in one burst. Often as many as 4 to 5 fps (frames per second). This finished off a roll of film in a couple of seconds. Now digital photography has brought this function available to anybody as most digicams allow you to capture several images in one burst without having to wind on or stop to reload film.

The speed and number of shots a digicam can take in one burst is dependent on the amount of internal memory the camera has, the image size selected and the amount of compression applied.

In professional digital cameras buffer memory is usually quite generous and can hold quite a number of images in high resolution. Consumer cameras usually offer less buffer memory, so the the number of images it can take in one burst will be limited.

Because many digicams have a considerable shutter lag – the time between the shutter being released and the actual picture being taken - burst mode can be put to good use to overcome this time lag, as it is often the cause of missed photo opportunities. By capturing several images after another, you have the possibility to select the best one afterwards. Repeated use of the burst mode will rapidly fill up your memory card however.

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