Points in Focus Photography

Continuous Shooting is Not Just for Action

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Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, EOS 40D, (1/25, f/5.6, ISO 800)

Continuous release mode is often thought only to be useful when shooting dynamic subjects that are in motion. The burst of frames in rapid succession gives the photographer a better opportunity to catch the exact moment they are trying for. But there is another, often forgotten or maybe unthought-of, use.

Often the sharpest images, in a burst of frames aren’t the first or last images. Regardless of how smooth of softly you think you’ve pressed the shutter release, there’s always some inherent motion induced by that that isn’t there when you’re holding it down. Some photographers will always shoot in bursts of three just to counter act the motion pushing and releasing the shutter release induces.

In this case limited bursting, coupled with a good solid shooting stance and image stabilization can be used to create amazingly sharp images given the conditions. For example the images in this article, were shot with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS, on a Canon EOS 40D body. With the 1.6 multiplier the effective focal length was 640mm, alone necessitating a 1/640th or faster shutter speed (I actually use 1/2x the focal length because it’s both easier to do the math, and because the faster the shutter speed the less camera shake will be recorded). Even with this lens’s stabilizer, that only get’s at best 2 stops of stabilization, so a shutter speed of 1/160- to 1/200th or so would have been the minimum.

But by using my camera’s ability to shoot at relatively high speeds, I was able to capture short bursts, and pick the sharpest images from the lot. In this case it let me get quite sharp images with shutter speeds as low as 1/25th of a second in some cases. 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 anyway; and you may be presently surprised when you find one or two sharp keepers in the results.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, EOS 40D, (1/80, f/5.6, ISO 1600)

Comments

Tom

“With the 1.6 multiplier the effective focal length was 640mm” – that is not true – crop factor has nothing to do with focal length – that is common myth (mistake). U don’t have the extra reach of a 640mm lens – It is still 400mm, but just a cropped field of view relative to a full frame – that is why it looks like 640mm! If U have IS (usualy it is 3 stops)in the lens shot with 1/80 of second is really 1/160, 1/320, 1/640 – 1/640 in 3 steps IS so U have more than rule of thumb says U need. Anyway I think that rule of thumb shoul be multiplied times 2 for much better sharpness when shooting from hand.

    V. J. Franke  | admin

    “With the 1.6 multiplier the effective focal length was 640mm” – that is not true – crop factor has nothing to do with focal length – that is common myth (mistake).

    Actually it’s neither a myth or a mistake, at least not any more than how photographers treat focal length being a useful measure of anything. It’s not, at least not until you define a frame size and start looking at angle of view.

    Focal length, and effective focal length in this case, are being used, as they generally are, as a proxy for angle of view.

    It is still 400mm, but just a cropped field of view relative to a full frame – that is why it looks like 640mm!

    I never said it wasn’t still a 400mm lens, hence qualification.

    If U have IS (usualy it is 3 stops) in the lens shot with 1/80 of second is really 1/160, 1/320, 1/640 – 1/640 in 3 steps IS so U have more than rule of thumb says U need.

    You’re over estimating the capabilities of the IS system in this particular lens. Officially IS system on the EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM is good for 2 stops. My experience is that 2-stops, like most IS ratings, is generous and that it’s closer to 1.5.

    Also, to reiterate what I said in the article, the first image was shot with a shutter speed of 1/25th, which is what I called out in the article.

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