How To Push A Button

(no, really!)

We talked before about how to hold your camera. The next big step is, how to push the shutter button.


When selling digital cameras, one of the biggest complaints I hear is that digital cameras are slow. People who have used both film and digital cameras often comment that they miss pictures because digital cameras don’t take the picture fast enough. I have found there are two tips that can help with this problem.

The first one involves red-eye prevention. For those who don’t know about it, red-eye is used to describe the bright red color of some persons’ eyes in photographs. This happens when the person looks directly at the camera as the flash goes off: the red is the reflection of the flash on the blood vessels at the back of their eye. Cameras have a way of preventing this by making the flash bar on the camera blink a few times before taking the picture – it takes a second or so to do this, so it delays the picture after the shutter button is pressed. Most cameras allow you to turn off the red-eye prevention. I’ll talk about this later, when I talk about using the flash.

The other tip involves how you press the shutter button. Digital cameras rely on an auto-focus system to give you clear pictures. In order to work, the auto-focus system sends out an infrared beam, or beams, at the object you are photographing. The beams bounce back to a sensor in the camera, and the camera calculates the distance to the object based on the time it takes for the beams to bounce back. If you are photographing something in motion, it must repeat this process to get an accurate distance. This can cause a delay between when you press the shutter button, and when the picture is actually taken. I have literally watched a person press the shutter button and immediately lower the camera, only to have the flash go off (and the picture taken) when the camera finally came to rest. Pointing at the floor. Lovely picture of the tile pattern, too bad about that gum that got into the picture.

So, what can you do?

Most cameras let you “pre-focus” your picture, by pressing the shutter button down half-way. Press it until you feel a little bit of resistance. If you watch the screen, you may see the light level go up or down, and the picture should blur slightly, then go into sharp focus. So long as you keep the button half-pressed, the focus remains locked. When you press the button further, your picture will be taken immediately. As you line up your picture, press the shutter button down half-way, so you’ll be ready when your subject is ready.

Try it out, and let me know how it works for you.