Continuous (Burst Mode) Shooting with Your Nikon D5200

Setting the Release mode dial on your Nikon D5200 to Continuous Low or Continuous High enables shooting in burst mode. That is, the camera records a continuous series of images for as long as you hold down the shutter button, making it easier to capture fast-paced action.

Here’s how the two modes differ:

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  • Continuous Low: At this setting, the camera can capture a maximum of 3 frames per second (fps).

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  • Continuous High: This mode works just like Continuous Low except that it records about 5 frames per second.

Why capture fewer than the maximum number of shots? Well, unless you’re shooting something that’s moving at a really fast pace, not too much is going to change between frames when you shoot at 5 fps. So, when you use Continuous High, you typically wind up with lots of shots that show the exact same thing, wasting space on your memory card.

For all but the fastest action, Continuous Low usually gives you plenty of frames to capture the shot without the unnecessary file bloat.

A few critical details about these two Release modes:

  • If flash is enabled, you get one shot per each press of the shutter button, as in Single Frame mode. Continuous mode doesn’t work with flash 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 some internal memory — a buffer — where it stores picture data until it has time to record the entire photo to the memory card.

    The number of pictures the buffer can hold depends on certain camera settings, such as resolution and file type (JPEG or Raw). The viewfinder displays an estimate of how many pictures will fit in the buffer.

    After shooting a burst of images, wait for the memory card access light to go out before turning off the camera. (The light is in the lower-right corner of the camera back, just above the Delete button.) That’s your signal that the camera has moved all data from the buffer to the memory card. Turning off the camera before that happens may corrupt the image file.

  • Your mileage may vary. The maximum number of frames per second is an approximation. The actual number depends on a number of factors, including shutter speed. Additionally, although you can capture as many as 100 frames in a single burst, the frame rate can drop if the buffer gets full.

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