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What is Burst Mode and When Should You Use It?

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

What is Burst Mode and When Should You Use It?

Have you ever left your finger on the shutter of a camera by accident and ended up with 20 pictures of the same thing? That’s burst mode.

While many people, like me, may have hit upon burst mode accidentally, it’s often used on purpose as it captures multiple images in a second ensuring you don’t miss any of the action. Read on to find out more about burst mode and when you should use it.

How Does Burst Mode Work?

If you want to take pictures in burst mode, all you need to do is put your camera in the mode and hold down the shutter. The number of photos you can get varies from camera to cameras. Older and low-end cameras may get you about 3 shots per second while top sports cameras can get you 20, 30 or 60 frames a second.

But the average camera will get you 6-12 frames per second.

Some cameras will let you choose your burst mode speed, but most will come with one speed that will apply to all your picture taking.

Burst mode is further limited by your camera’s buffer. This is the place where images are stored before they are added to your memory card. Once the buffer is full, your camera will stop working. You will need to empty it to get burst mode activated again.

When Should You Use Burst Mode?

Technically, you can use burst mode any time you shoot. However, this is not recommended.

If you rely heavily on burst mode, you will get lazy about your shots and lose focus on composition. It will also cause your memory cards and hard drives to fill up very quickly leading to storage issues.

It’s best to save burst mode for catching fast moving action such as wildlife scenes and sporting events. It can also be used to ensure you don’t miss memorable moments like a baby’s first steps. It may also come in handy for technically difficult scenes as it will ensure you get a few good shots.

How to Use Burst Mode

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use burst mode:

Activate Burst Mode on your Camera: The way to activate burst mode will vary from camera to camera. It may be on your drive or shooting mode menu or you may have dials you can turn to burst mode. Once you find the mode, you can choose between the Continuous and Continuous High options.

Select the Relevant Focus Mode: You will want to choose a focus mode that allows your camera to focus quickly when taking continuous shots. On some cameras this will be a continuous focusing mode that will track moving objects as you hold down the shutter buttons. On other cameras, you can use single shot autofocus. To activate this feature, half press the shutter to lock focus, then press it all the way down to get your shot.

Choose Your Setting: Finally, you will want to choose the settings that are right for your photos. These may vary from shoot to shoot, but one thing you will always require is a fast shutter speed. It is recommended to choose a shutter speed of 1/250s for slower moving objects and 1/1000s for faster moving objects. If you’re having trouble getting the shutter speed you need, try widening the aperture.

Once you have gone through the steps listed above, you can start burst shooting.

Burst shooting is a great way to ensure you get the shots you need. Now that you know how to use it, you are ready to capture some terrific images. How will you be integrating the technique into your photography in the future?

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