Sunday, September 21, 2008

Photography tips: The (non)sense of high fps numbers

The number of frames per second (fps) seems to be one of the main selling points Single Lens Reflex camera's (SLRs). I have to admit that I was happy with the increase from 2.5 to 5 fps when I switched from my old 300D to the 20D. Why? I'll try to explain below.

Increase your chances
The main reason to want to increase your fps is that it increases the chance of shooting the lucky shot. The more shots you can fire, the greater is the chance of an accidental hit. Does this sound silly? It might, and most of the time it is. Luck can never beat timing and insight. If you are shooting at 7 fps (which is considered fast), using a shuttertime of 1/100s, You are not capturing the moment for 93% percent of the time. Careful timing will always yield better results. But sometimes you'll need careful timing and luck. Consider shooting sports for instance. You can see the decisive moment coming, but shooting at the exact moment requires some luck. In those cases increasing your chances helps, although you'll have to realize that fps alone won't get you anywhere.

The sound factor
And then there's sound. Firing a range of shots from an SLR sounds pretty professional. It has no inluence on the quality of your pictures whatsoever, but to some it may increase their pleasure in photography. It's pretty similar to a biker enjoying the sound of a V-twin.

2 comments:

David Terry said...

I've had a lot of experiencing shoot soccer games for U Star Pix http://kirkstrickland.googlepages.com/

I sometimes like to get "sequence shots" of the action (i.e. more than just a single image to help tell the story).

I would watch the action with my left eye and shoot with my right eye. I'd see the ball arcing overhead towards someone who is about to head the ball. Wanting to get a "sequence shot" showing the setup, the header, and after, I'd start firing just before the ball came into the scene.

To my amazement, in many (most?) such instances, I would see the setup and the after shot - and totally miss the ball. In other words, the ball came into view and left again in between shots!!!

About the only way to "get the header" shot was to shoot a single frame. Watch the ball come in and time it just right.

That was when I was shooting 5fps on the Canon 20D. That's one shot every 1/20th of a second.

Now I'm shooting the Canon 1D Mark III with its 10fps and I have to tell you, these "sequence shots" hardly ever fail.

The 1D Mark III is *so* responsive. It begins firing almost immediately (even the 20D had a shutter lag that messed with my timing). And if/when I want a sequence shot, 10fps is just about perfect.

pressure vessels said...

i have trouble in shooting basketball games under low light. im an amateur photographer and still saving for a good lens.. I have a nikon d60 in hand with a 50mm kit lens. thanks for the tips..