Continuous Shooting Mode : Not Just for Action

Hand held Canon 400mm f2.8 shot in burst mode with a 1DX. 1/60th of a second at f2.8, ISO 10,000. This is frame #2 of 7 frames. All soft except for this one. Note my focus was on the Carl Zeiss lettering. The extreme shallow depth of field of a 400mm f2.8 shot on a full frame sensor at nearly minimum focus caused the rest of the image to be out of focus. This is a straight jpg image from a RAW file - no post processing.

Continuous release mode is often thought only to be useful when shooting dynamic subjects that are in motion. A rapid burst of frames can help when you are looking for just the right moment in a fast sequence of events. There is a SF 49er game on right now as I type this. You can be certain that all those shooters on the sidelines have their cameras cranked to the highest continuous release mode they can, 10 -12 frames per second. Makes sense for them, but there is another, often forgotten or maybe unthought of use for continuous release mode.

Often the sharpest image, in a burst of frames is not the first or last image. This is because regardless of how softly you think you’ve pressed and released the shutter, there’s always some inherent motion induced that isn’t there when you’re just holding the shutter release down. That motion, ever so slight can ruin your fine image if you are shooting slow shutter speeds without a tripod or other type of support. Shooting in bursts of three or more counteracts the motion of pushing and releasing the shutter release. So often times, you’ll find your sharpest images are somewhere in the middle of your burst, not the first or last frame.

A short burst of frames, coupled with a good solid shooting stance (one foot ahead of the other, hips centered, elbows tucked to your sides) and image stabilization can be used to create amazingly sharp images of a static subject. Look at my image above. Shot with a 9 pound hand held Canon 1DX and 400mm 2.8 lens at 1/60th of a second. Only frame #2 was sharp – six others showed motion blur.

So next time you’re out shooting, and don’t have a tripod, give continuous release mode a try. The worst you can do is not get the shot, however you may be pleasantly surprised when you find one or two sharp keepers!

Btw, combining continuous release mode with back button focusing is the way to go, but more on that in another post…I’ve got a game to watch!