Architecture Bahamas Beach huts row in bright colors fading into the distance

Camera Drive Modes

This is just a quick post to give a simple explanation of your camera’s different drive modes – what they are, what they do and when you should use each one.

Camera Drive Modes

Your camera has a number of modes you can select to control how it reacts when you press the shutter button. These are the drive modes. You can choose to have single or multiple shots, or delay when you take the photograph when you press the shutter button.

Single Shot Mode

This is the standard default setting on your camera – the straightforward shooting mode where one picture is taken every time you press the shutter button. It won’t make any difference how long you hold down the shutter, the camera will only take one photograph.
Architecture of Boscombe Pier jetty wooden walkway over the ocean in England at sunset

Continuous Drive Mode

This drive mode (also known as ‘burst mode’) will enable you to press and hold the shutter button and the camera will record continuous images for as long as you hold the button down. This mode is extremely useful in capturing fast moving action where it may be extremely difficult to capture the image due to the speed of the event, such as sports, wildlife or other action photography.
Each camera model will have different recording speeds that can range from 3 to over 10 frames per second (‘fps’).
American Osprey with Fish in Talons flying a dawn sunrise

American Osprey

There are a number of factors which will affect the speed of the frames that your camera can record:
  • Transfer speed of the memory card in your camera – You need a ‘fast’ card to help the camera transfer the information quickly;
  • The camera’s buffer size – This is the number of fames that the camera can store temporarily internally prior to writing to the memory card;
  • The image quality that you have selected – The resolution/size of the RAW or JPEG files you are recording;
  • Continuous autofocus/single autofocus – Some cameras give you the option for the camera to either just autofocus on the first image of the burst or for it to adjust focus for each subsequent frame captures in the burst mode. Single autofocus mode will naturally allow your camera to take faster subsequent frames.
Fighter jet airplanes on sunset red sky


Self Timer

The self-timer mode allows you to delay the taking the shot for a set time after pressing the shutter button. This mode can prove invaluable in enabling that there is no camera shake or movement when the shutter is released as any movement can be magnified greatly when using either telephoto or macro lenses resulting in blurry images. Some camera models will let you either set the duration of timer or choose from a preset duration. Great when you forget your remote release!
 friends sitting at end of board ward long exposure at the ocean

Silent Shutter/Quiet Mode

Some camera models have the option to engage a silent shutter or quiet mode. The mirror inside the camera will be dampened which reduces the sounds when the shutter button is pressed. This mode can be especially useful when photographing nature and animals that may be disturbed when they hear the sound of the shutter.
Bright Green Hummingbird sitting in a tree close up

Bright Green Hummingbird sitting in a tree close up


This remote mode works when you plug in a wired (or wireless) remote control to trigger the shutter button. This is advisable where you are using a very slow shutter speed and want to ensure that you do not shake the camera resulting in a blurred image.

London Bridge and St Pauls Cathedral Building Reflected in River Thames at night in Blue Lights

London Bridge and St Pauls Cathedral Building Reflected in River Thames at night in Blue Lights

Mirror Lock Up

This mode locks up the camera’s mirror away from the sensor so that when you press the shutter release (usually using the remote) then the extra vibration caused by the mirror flipping back and forward is removed. Remember that you will usually have to press the shutter twice when you turn on this mode – once to lock the mirror back and the second time to release. Further, when the mirror is locked back, it will block the viewfinder so you either need to have focussed and composed in advance or use the live-view mode on your camera.This mode is especially useful for macro or extreme close up photography where the slightest shake can be magnified greatly.
Dandelion Seeds Reflections Botanicals Nature Macro Close up

Dandelion Seeds Reflections Botanicals Nature Macro Close up

I hope you find this guide useful!

Once again please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about this post (or anything else on my website), and to pass this tutorial onto any photographer friends you think may benefit from it.

Until next time!

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Camera Drive Modesantonyz

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