TPB #25 – Understanding Shutter Lag

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“To tekmoto blog. This is episode number 25 when most people press the shutter button button on their camera. They expect the picture to be taken instantaneously. However that s oversimplification that s kind of like let s say newtonian physics.

Newton. Came up with calculus and a couple. Very simple rules that describe our physical world. And that works most of the time.

But it kind of breaks down when things start moving really fast or when things need to be really accurate when these things happen you need to start taking into account. More complicated laws. Like einstein s special relativity. In the same way with cameras.

When you start when things start moving. Really quickly or or happening at a certain moment in time for high speed photography..

You no longer can rely on the fact that the picture will be taken instantaneously you have to start accounting for things like shutter lag. And the duration that uh derp. Is actually open and sometimes compensating for those facts. By using things like external flashes that will help brees motion.

That s happening. Extraordinarily quickly. Most people are familiar with this phenomenon. When they try to take a picture with their camera phone.

Where the autofocus or the shutter lag is really bad on those cameras. But it does affect even these high end dslr cameras just to a lesser extent. But it matters greatly when you re doing really high speed photography. I ve gone into great detail about shutter lag and flash duration and other videos.

And i ll put links to those in the show notes for this episode for those who want more information and details. But the point of this episode is just to make people aware of these concepts and that you have to adjust your photography to account for these things so that people don t have to get into the details to really understand that so the real purpose of this video can be summarized..

One really simple concept it set the shutter lag from a camera is about a thousand times. Longer than the duration of a flash. A flash has no lag. So when you want to take that high speed shot.

You can t rely on shutter light. You can t rely on your shutter. You have to somehow use the flash instead and the way people typically do that is they ll set up the camera in a darkroom and set the shutter to their bald mode or to you know a long period of time like five seconds and then if you just take a picture. It ll be black and nothing will be lit.

But then you use the flash during that period. While the shutter is open to actually capture the event that you re trying to take a picture of and that will light the scene at the instant that you want the photo to be taken and that s you know that that s how people do those really amazing high speed photography shots. So at this point people usually nod their heads and say yeah i understand shutter lag is a problem. But you know probably for my case.

It s okay and then i get the email or the post on my form of somebody asking me well. Why didn t my case work..

So i wanted to throw a little bit of math out there so that people sort of can calculate on their own. Whether their use case is going to work with the shutter leg or not if you don t like math. You can just experiment. And if shutter lag is too much of a problem.

Then you can go to using a flash. So what we ve got here is the baseball example and let s say you ve got a professional pitcher throwing the ball at 90 miles per hour now i want to convert that into feet per second. So i m going to multiply that by one hour over 3600 seconds. Now we re in miles per.

Second and then i m going to multiply that by 5280. Feet per mile to get it into feet per second. And then the typical shutter lag. Is around 100 milliseconds or a tenth of second.

So i multiplied by that and i get this 13 feet for 100 milliseconds. Which basically means that the baseball is going to travel 13 feet during your shutter leg..

That s a long ways and the problem gets way worse. If you re photographing a bullet right because the bullets practically you know 10 times or more the speed of that baseball so now you re talking about 130 feet. Even if you discount the shutter lag. And just go with a shutter.

Speed. Then what you ve got is you let s say your shutter can go at one millisecond or a shutter speed of one one thousandth of a second that would be point one three feet. Which is you know over an inch of blur on that baseball. Which should you know be a problem in certain cases as well so.

What you really need to freeze. The motion of the baseball and be and to be able to predictably place the baseball in the scene is to use a flash. So that s just an example of where you need to take into account shutter lag shutter duration and things like that and how you can sort of calculate whether it would be a problem for your use case. ” .


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