Using Burst Mode on Your Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D

By Julie Adair King

Action photography requires a fast shutter speed — and a fast trigger finger. Luckily, the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D has a Drive (or burst) mode, which records a continuous series of images as long as you hold down the shutter button. If you want to know how to take great digital pictures of a quick-moving subject, the Drive mode is a terrific way to start.

The Drive mode determines how you trigger the actual image capture and what happens after you take that step. The default setting is Single, which records a single image each time you press the shutter button completely. In other words, this is normal-photography mode (and the default setting for all fully automatic modes except Sports and Portrait).

Using the Continuous setting (Burst mode, as it is more typically called), your camera records a continuous series of images as long as you hold down the shutter button. On the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D, you can capture just about 3.5 shots per second. Obviously, this mode is great for capturing fast-paced subjects, which is why it’s the default setting for Sports mode. It’s also selected for Portrait mode, which is a great benefit if your subject is the fidgety type.

You see all five Drive mode options only in the advanced exposure modes (P, Tv, Av, M, and A-DEP). In the fully automatic modes, you see only the default Drive mode option that the camera uses for your selected exposure mode, plus the Self-Timer/Remote Control option and the Self-Timer Continuous option.

To change your Drive mode, use the left cross key on the back of the camera, pictured here.


After you press the left cross key, you will see the following screen. Using the left and right cross keys, highlight the icon representing Continuous mode (it looks like a stack of pictures) appears, as shown in the screen below, and press Set.


This Drive mode will remain in force until you change it or switch to an exposure mode for which the selected Drive mode isn’t available.

Keep in mind that some camera functions can slow down the continuous capture rate. For example, when you use flash or enable the High ISO Noise Reduction feature, you typically can’t achieve the highest burst rate. The speed of your memory card also plays a role in how fast the camera can capture images. In other words, consider 3.4 shots per second a best-case scenario.