Digital SLRs - Drive Modes

What are Drive Modes?

You can set up a Digital SLR to take a single picture when the shutter button is pressed or to take multiple pictures. There is also a setting for a self timer. These are collectively referred to as drive modes.

To take your picture you have to press the shutter release button, of course, but most cameras give you a choice of different behaviours when the button is pressed. The single-shooting or single frame mode is the most straightforward - press the button and the camera takes one shot. However, if you are shooting sports, for example, you will need the camera to keep up with the action. Let's say there is a goal-mouth scramble in a game of football and you want to be sure of catching the exact moment the ball goes in the net.

You need a continuous shooting mode that will allow you to hold the button down and fire off a burst of shots very quickly. There are usually two types of continuous shooting available. One is faster than the other.

The fastest type is also known as Burst Mode. This is because it fires off a short, high speed burst of shots. Standard continuous shooting produces a much longer burst of images. This could be up to one hundred shots or until your memory card is full.

digital slrs

Using the Self Timer

A self-timer shooting mode is handy for when you want to get yourself in the picture as well, giving you a 2 or 10-second delay after pressing the button before the shot is taken. Some models also allow the use of a remote control, meaning you can get yourself into position first and point the remote at the camera to take the shot.

The self timer can also be used when taking a picture of a scene or subject that is not going to move or change. If the camera is on a tripod or supported on a wall or something similar, this will ensure there is absolutely no movement of the camera at the moment the picture is taken. This helps to give you pin sharp results.

Digital SLR Guide Pages

Digital SLR Basics
Digital SLRs and Digital Cameras Key Differences
Digital SLR or Compact System Cameras
Digital SLR Handling
Help for Beginners

Lenses and Accessories
Buying a Camera Lens
Memory Cards
Digital SLR Accessories

Learn More About Features
Resolution and Sensor Size
Sensor Cleaning
Manual Exposure Modes
ISO Range
White Balance
Auto Focus
Drive Modes
Scene Modes
Help With Tricky Lighting
Metering Modes
RAW Mode
Live View and Articulated Screens
Flash Options
Movie Modes
Depth of Field Preview Button
Image Stabilisation
Mirror Lockup

Current and Recommended Models
Summary of Current Models
Recommended Digital SLRs

Digital SLR Guide Author
This guide was written by Ian Younger

Using Continuous Shooting

The continuous shooting modes on entry-level DSLRs typically allow shooting at around 3.5 frames per second, while a more expensive model will shoot much more quickly, such as the 7 frames per second of the Pentax K-5 or 8 frames per second on the Canon 7D.

At the consumer end of the market you may also find faster shooting speeds for your money from the Sony SLT range. This type of Digital SLR uses a different type of mirror to a conventional camera. This can improve continuous shooting speeds.

As a side note you may need to practice your panning technique and improve your knowledge of when to use faster shutter speeds and what focusing method you need when using continuous shooting. Otherwise the result may be a series of disappointing, out of focus shots. To get the most out of a continuous shooting mode fast shutter speeds are required. To get optimum results you may find it beneficial to experiment with shutter priority and aperture priority settings.

Continuous Shooting and Memory Cards

If you fire off a high number of photos, all at the press of a button your memory card can fill up very quickly. Therefore be prepared to have a spare card on hand.

Over use of continuous shooting also gives you a lot of images to work through after shooting. Therefore it is always advisable to take this into consideration when shooting and to use this mode without over using it.