Getting Acquainted: Burst Shooting and Timer

Burst mode can help capture that perfectly timed shot, while self-timer is great for self-portraits or reducing camera shake. Using these shooting settings can dramatically improve your shots.
By , Last updated on: 5/18/2014

People are often surprised when they use my camera for a quick shot and find they've taken not one, but several photos. My camera pretty much lives in burst mode, a setting that continues to take quick shots when the shutter button is pressed. But shooting settings like burst mode and it's better known sibling self timer are very simple to use and essential to capturing that perfectly timed shot.

Shooting modes: Burst Shooting

Burst or continuous shooting is offered on most cameras, from basic point and shoots to DSLRs. The type of camera, however, does determine how fast the burst mode is, indicated in Frames Per Second or fps. Some models can take over 100 photos at a time in continuous shooting, others are limited to five.

Using burst mode takes several images at once, making it easier to get the right timing in action shots.

Continuous shooting is best for action or candid shots. Creating a series of photos in these scenarios allows the photographer to pick the perfect moment as the wide receiver snatches the ball out of the air or as the kids crack the biggest smiles.

When using burst shooting, the camera needs to be set in the appropriate focus settings, either subject tracking or continuous, otherwise the first photo may be the only one in focus. Since the camera has more data to record, there will often be a noticeable delay after burst shooting before more photos can be taken, particularly when using less advanced cameras. Continuous shooting also drains batteries a bit faster.

Many cameras will have a shortcut key to change from single shots to continuous. The icon for burst shooting generally resembles three overlapping rectangles. Switching from single to burst can also be accomplished through the camera's shooting menu, though different manufacturers and models will differ.

Shooting Modes: Self-Timer

The self-timer mode does exactly what the name implies—sets a timer to give the photographer time to get into the photo for self or group portraits. This shooting mode can also be used with a tripod in low light to eliminate any shake from pressing the shutter release.

Using the self-timer mode is quite simple. Change the shooting mode to self timer, either by using the shortcut key with the clock icon or through the camera's shooting menu. Different cameras may even have options to set the length of time until the shot is taken. Hit the shutter release, and then most camera models will use a beep that increases in speed to let you know when the photo will be snapped.

Shooting modes like burst and self-timer offer even more versatility from a digital camera and are easy to use. Continuous shooting helps snap perfectly timed photos while the timer makes self portraits easy.


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