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Infobank

Camera settings: Drive modes

Many EOS cameras have more than one drive mode. If you select single shooting, the camera fires one shot each time the shutter button is fully depressed. If continuous shooting mode is set, the shutter keeps firing for as long as you depress the shutter button.

With a 35mm film camera continuous shooting was used sparingly – it could get through a full cassette of 36 frames in under five seconds. But digital cameras have given continuous shooting a new lease of life. You can take as many pictures as you want without worrying about the cost.

Why would you want to shoot a number of frames in rapid succession? One reason is to show an action unfolding in a sequence of images. This can give more meaning to an event than a single picture might show. A sequence of images can also be used for research into the movement of animals or the performance of athletes.

Often, the continuous shooting mode is used to try to capture the defining moment of an action – a golf club hitting a ball, for example. Unfortunately, this is not always successful. Even shooting at three or four frames per second does not guarantee that you will obtain the picture you want.

Camera types

When it comes to continuous shooting, EOS cameras can be divided into four groups.

First, there are the cameras that are permanently in continuous mode in many of their shooting modes. These cameras have a relatively slow shooting speed – typically around 1 frame per second (fps). This slow speed means that it is quite easy to take single shots – you just remove your finger from the shutter release as soon as the exposure is made. To shoot a sequence of frames you keep the shutter button pressed. Cameras in this category tend to be the earlier, less expensive entry-level models.

The second group features the majority of EOS cameras. Here, there are two separate shooting modes – single and continuous, and you can choose between them for most of the shooting modes.

The third group of cameras also has separate single and continuous shooting modes, but adding a Power Booster accessory can increase the speed of the continuous mode. This group only contains EOS film cameras.

The fourth group has separate single and continuous shooting modes, but the continuous mode has high-speed and low-speed options. This feature is only found on EOS digital cameras.

 

Single drive mode is shown by a simple rectangle (left). Continuous drive mode stacks several rectangles together (centre and right). ‘L’ and ‘H’ denotes low and high continuous shooting modes (EOS digital cameras only).

 

Single shot mode is well suited to static subjects. You can take several pictures, but they do not need to be within a few seconds of each other.

 

Continuous shooting lets you capture several frames a second.

Automatic setting

If the camera offers a selection of Picture Image Control (PIC) modes, the choice between single and continuous for these settings is pre-programmed into the camera. PIC modes are designed for point-and-shoot photography, so you don’t have to think about any of the camera settings apart from which mode to select.

Continuous shooting is set for Sports mode, so that you can take a sequence of images as you shoot athletes, cars and bikes. It is also selected with Portrait mode, so that you can capture fast-changing facial expressions.

Shooting modes outside the PIC range on these cameras usually allow you to select single or continuous mode.

Focusing and exposure

What happens to the autofocusing when you are shooting in continuous mode? This depends on the AF mode. In One-shot AF, the focus locks before the first exposure is made and does not change for subsequent exposures in the same sequence. In AI Servo mode, the focus keeps adjusting throughout the sequence. This means that you should always use AI Servo, if available, when photographing subjects that are moving towards or away from the camera.

Autoexposure, on the other hand, always locks as you depress the shutter button and does not change during a sequence of continuous frames. This has the advantage that the exposure will not be affected by sudden changes in the background as you follow a moving subject with the camera. On the other hand, it can be a problem if the subject moves into shadow. Here, you need to release the shutter button, and then press it again, to take another exposure reading and restart the continuous sequence.

The continuous shooting speed is often 0.5fps to 1fps slower in the AI Servo mode than in One-shot AF mode.

Burst rate

With film cameras, the maximum number of frames that you can shoot in a single sequence is limited by the number of unexposed frames left on the loaded film. The longest sequence will be 36.

With digital cameras, you are limited by the size of the camera’s internal memory. As soon as the sensor captures an image, it is transferred to this memory before being written to the CompactFlash card. The camera can take photographs faster than they can be written to the card. When using continuous shooting, the internal memory will fill up. When the memory is full, the camera will stop shooting while images are transferred to the card. The maximum number of images you can shoot in one sequence is called the burst rate. This varies with the camera (some have larger internal memories than others) and also the size of the files being recorded.

Setting the camera for continuous shooting

EOS-1D - Press the shooting mode and metering mode buttons (top left of camera) simultaneously. Turn the electronic input dial until the low or high continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

High-speed continuous: approx. 8fps
Low-speed continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 21 shots JPEG; 16 shots RAW

EOS-1D Mark II - Press the shooting mode and metering mode buttons (top left of camera) simultaneously. Turn the electronic input dial until the low or high continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

High-speed continuous: approx. 8.5fps
Low-speed continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 40 shots JPEG; 20 shots RAW

EOS-1D Mark II N - Press the shooting mode and metering mode buttons (top left of camera) simultaneously. Turn the electronic input dial until the low or high continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

High-speed continuous: approx. 8.5fps
Low-speed continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 48 shots JPEG; 22 shots RAW

EOS-1D Mark IV - Press the AF-DRIVE (top left of camera). Turn the electronic input dial until the low or high continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

High-speed continuous: approx. 10fps
Continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate: 28 shots (RAW), 121 (JPEG)

EOS-1D X - Press the AF-DRIVE (top left of camera). Turn the electronic input dial until the low or high continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

High-speed continuous: approx. 14fps
Continuous: approx. 12fps
Maximum burst rate: 38 shots (RAW), 180 (JPEG)

EOS-1D Mark III - Press the AF-DRIVE (top left of camera). Turn the electronic input dial until the low or high continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

High-speed continuous: approx. 10fps
Low-speed continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 110 shots JPEG; 30 shots RAW; 22 shots RAW+JPEG

EOS-1Ds - Press the mode and metering buttons (top left of camera) simultaneously. Turn the electronic input dial until the continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

Continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 10 shots (all resolutions)

EOS-1Ds Mark II - Press the mode and metering buttons (top left of camera) simultaneously. Turn the electronic input dial until the continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

Continuous: approx. 4fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 32 shots JPEG; 11 shots RAW

EOS-1Ds Mark III - Press the AF-DRIVE (top left of camera). Turn the electronic input dial until the low or high continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

High-speed continuous: approx. 5fps
Low-speed continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 56 shots JPEG; 12 shots RAW; 10 shots RAW+JPEG

EOS 5D and 5D Mark II - Press the DRIVE-ISO (in front of the LCD panel). Turn the electronic input dial until the continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

Continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 60 shots JPEG; 17 shots RAW

EOS 5D Mark III - Press the AF-DRIVE button (in front of LCD panel) and rotate the electronic input dial to select drive mode.

High-speed continuous: approx. 6fps
Continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 18 shots (RAW), 16,270 (JPEG)

EOS 10D - Press the Drive-ISO button (in front of the LCD panel). Turn the electronic input dial until the continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

Continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 9 shots (all resolutions)

EOS 20D - Press the DRIVE-ISO button (in front of the LCD panel). Turn the electronic input dial until the continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

Continuous: approx. 5fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 20 shots JPEG; 6 shots RAW

EOS 30D - Press the DRIVE-ISO button (in front of the LCD panel). Turn the electronic input dial until the continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

High-speed continuous: approx. 5fps
Low-speed continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 30 shots JPEG; 11 shots RAW; 9 shots RAW+JPEG

EOS 40D and 50D - Press the AF-DRIVE button (in front of the LCD panel). Turn the electronic input dial until the low or high continuous shooting symbol appears on the LCD panel.

High-speed continuous: approx. 6.5fps
Low-speed continuous: approx. 3fps
Maximum burst rate (approx.): 75 shots JPEG; 17 shots RAW; 14 shots RAW+JPEG

Maximum burst rate varies with the subject, ISO speed, processing parameters, media card, and other factors.