Tag Archives: #Shutter lag

Whoops! The Unfortunate Effects of Shutter Lag.

Timing is crucial in making successful images of moving trains.

Even a few tenths of second can make the difference between a stunning photograph and a throwaway.

After years of photographing trains on the move, I’ve developed techniques for releasing the shutter at precisely the right moment.

When I examine different types of cameras for their suitability as picture making machines, one thing I always look for is shutter delay. Many inexpensive cameras fail in this regard. When you press the button if the camera hesitates it will routinely make railway action photography more difficult.

Many inexpensive cameras suffer from inadequate computer processors that can contribute to a delay. Another difficulty are the autofocus systems that impose a delay between the time you press the shutter and when the shutter opens.

Some cameras, such as my Lumix LX7 and Fuji X-T1 allow for various adjustments to autofocus and exposure settings than can help minimize the effects of ‘shutter lag’. But you have to play with the settings to get just the right combination.

Having the camera ‘on’ and queued up (poised and ready) helps.

High speed trains are difficult to capture full frame.
This was a late frame in a sequence but demonstrates what can happen if your camera hesitates at the decisive moment.
If you miss an ordinary train, well you can try again. Miss a rare special move, you might feel like giving up and taking up something passive, like bus spotting. Don’t blame yourself, get a better camera!
If when you press the shutter button your camera doesn’t instantly expose a photo, your results may look something like this image. While in some circles it’s considered trendy to chop the subject, for the most part this isn’t the desired result for most railway photographers.

If you find that too often your photos look like these, you may wish to consider acquiring a picture-making device that has better reaction time. What use is a camera that forces you to miss photos? Why suffer the repeated frustrations and disappointments associated with ‘shutter lag?’

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