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Choosing a Shutter Button Release Mode for a Nikon DSLR

By default, the Nikon D3100, D5100, and D7000 capture single images each time you press the shutter button. But by changing the Release mode setting, you can vary this behavior. For example, you can set the camera to Self-Timer mode so that you can press the shutter button and then run in front of the camera and be part of the picture. Or you can switch to Continuous mode, which records a burst of images as long as you hold down the shutter button — a great feature for photographing a fast-moving subject.

Single Frame and Quiet Shutter Release modes on a Nikon DSLR

At the default Release mode setting, Single Frame, you get one picture each time you press the shutter button. In other words, this is normal-photography mode. The only other thing you need to know is that you must press the shutter button in two stages for autoexposure and autofocusing to work correctly: Press the button halfway, pause to let the camera set focus and exposure, and then press the rest of the way to take the picture.

Quiet Shutter Release mode works just like Single Frame mode but makes less noise as it goes about its business. Designed for situations when you want the camera to be as silent as possible, this mode automatically disables the beep that the autofocus system normally sounds when it achieves focus. (If you prefer, you can disable the beep for all Release modes through the Beep option on the Shooting/Display section of the Custom Setting menu.)

Continuous (burst mode) shooting on a Nikon DSLR

Sometimes known as burst mode, this mode records a continuous series of images as long as you hold down the shutter button, making it easier to capture action. On the D7000, you can choose Continuous Low or Continuous High.

A few critical details:

  • Continuous shooting is disabled when you use flash. You can't use flash in Continuous mode because the time that the flash needs to recycle between shots slows down the capture rate too much.

  • Images are stored temporarily in the memory buffer. The camera has a little bit of internal memory where it stores picture data until it has time to record the images to the memory card.

  • Your mileage may vary. The maximum number of frames per second is an approximation. The actual number of frames you can capture depends on a number of factors, including your shutter speed.

Self-timer shooting on a Nikon DSLR

You're no doubt familiar with the Self-Timer Release mode, which delays the shutter release for a few seconds after you press the shutter button, giving you time to dash into the picture. Here's how it works on the D5100: After you press the shutter button, the AF-assist lamp on the front of the camera starts to blink, and the camera emits a series of beeps. A few seconds later, the camera captures the image.

Remote-control modes (D5100 and D7000)

The final two Release mode settings relate to the optional remote-control units and work as follows:

  • Delayed Remote: After you press the shutter-release button on the remote unit, the AF-assist lamp blinks for about two seconds, and then the camera takes the picture.

  • Quick Response Remote: The image is captured immediately.

  • Interval between Shots (D7000): If you choose to record multiple shots, this setting determines how long the camera waits between each one. You can set the delay to a half second (the default setting), one second, two seconds, or three seconds.

Investigating other shutter-release options (D5100 and D7000)

In addition to the official Release mode setting, the D5100 and D7000 offer you two related features, Exposure Delay Mode and Interval Timer Shooting.

Exposure Delay Mode

One component of the optical system of a dSLR camera is a tiny mirror that moves every time you press the shutter button. The small vibration caused by the mirror action (mirror slap) can result in slight blurring of the image when you use a very slow shutter speed, shoot with a long telephoto lens, or take extreme close-up shots. To cope with that issue, many cameras offer mirror-lockup shooting, which delays opening the shutter until after the mirror movement is complete.

Interval Timer Shooting

With Interval Timer Shooting, you can set the camera to automatically release the shutter at intervals ranging from seconds to hours apart. This feature enables you to capture a subject as it changes over time (time-lapse photography) without having to stand around pressing the shutter button the whole time.

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