Fill the Buffer


Ken Shipley
I was out on a blustery morning and decided to do a burst-speed trial. I'm fairly new to the mirrorless world and the high-speed, electronic shutters baffle me some, and frankly, scare me a little bit. The times I've turned it up to full blast, it feels like I'm firing out of control. When I get back and start culling images, it seems like I have a million shots. The baffling part is why I would ever do that? Today I went out in a controlled environment and let it rip, emptied the clip, filled the buffer.

So what are we looking at? A sheet of stamps? No. With my Canon R7 set to full electronic and the H+ speed setting, I got 72 images before missing a beat with a UHS-II card. It felt like it took about 3 seconds. That would be 24 FPS. The advertised 30 FPS would work out to a 2.4 second burst. That could have happened. Maybe somewhere in between.

Either way, that's too damned fast. With the work I do, I can't imagine ever needing that.

The collage below is on an 8x9 grid. Let's say it took 3 seconds to expose them all. That means every 9-image column, top to bottom was shot over 3 seconds. If I had my camera set to 3 FPS, I'd get one column, 9 images, over 3 seconds. I bet I could find one exposure in every column of this grid that would fit my needs. I don't need 8 columns worth of images to cull.

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Hah! No one needs 30 fps... until they figure out that they want it. Then they need it. In sports... diving, football catches, volleyball spikes, gymnastics vaults and tumbling, tennis serves... a LOT happens in 1/30 second. Many times I wish for a frame between two that I already have. Even looking at your flag shots, there's a lot of change from one to another. If those represented the facial expressions and movements of a halfback running through the line of scrimmage, you'd want all of them to choose from.

It takes a bit of experience* to keep the finger off the trigger. I use 30 fps and try to limit myself to half second (max) bursts. For a swimmer, there might be one shot in there without a splash covering the face.

On the R3, the max speed can be customized up to almost 300 fps, but for very limited duration.

* Remember the definition of experience: what you get when you were hoping for something else. In this case it means coming home with 4000 images instead of 250. More than once.