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Machine gun photography


Pete Plus
19 18.8k 97 England
21 Sep 2014 8:52PM
I was at Derwent Valley, Derbyshire, this afternoon for the last flyover of the only two flying Lancaster bombers. I climbed the side of the hill towards Derwent Edge and parked myself for a decent vantage point halfway up the bank. Above me was a path lined with photographers. As the Lancaster flew past I heard the sound of 3, 4, 5, 8, 10 frame per second motordrives almost drowned out the beautiful sound of the Lancaster engine. It got me thinking are people misusing their continuous frame shooting modes. Do they really know when to use the mode and is it necessary to use it on everything that moves? The thing is the Lancaster flew past with a background of sky or trees, depending on where you were positioned up the hill. The plane doesn't change shape, the background doesn't change, so the machine gun photographers will have hundreds of very similar photos, and if they got the exposure wrong they will all be underexposed. And if the got the speed wrong they may all look static.
So the question to machine gunners
Are you shooting so fast because...
a You think you have to
b You want to impress the people standing near you
c You dont know why you are
d You are hoping that the plane will explode mid way through
e You spent a lot of money on the camera so you are getting the most out of it
f You know that one frame will miraculously be different than the rest
g It was on continuous frame by accident
h you read in a magazine thats what you should do
i other.... please insert
Pete Plus
19 18.8k 97 England
21 Sep 2014 8:53PM
btw my photo was pretty crap! Maybe im jealous of machine gun cameras Wink
lancaster-bomber.jpg
sitan1 Plus
12 1.3k 1 United Kingdom
21 Sep 2014 8:59PM
Good luck to the machine gunners processing 10,000 of the same image lol
Overread 12 4.1k 19 England
21 Sep 2014 9:03PM
A) Depends on the situation and sometimes an element of experience plays a part here. The more experienced will likely need less use of burst to get the shot - those with less experience might want to have that added insurance of more frames to work with (note that an otherwise experienced photographer in a new situation/subject can be very inexperienced with that specific type of photography)

B) For most I suspect this isn't a factor; sure there are a tiny handful who are using it just to show off; but I suspect most show off for a day or two with the new camera and then just get on and use it.

C) Some I suspect don't know that they can limit the burst rate (eg my 7D can cut it in half to 4fps if you set it to in the menus); and others likely want to stay in multi-shot as a standard mode because it means less time in the menu changing settings when a fast action shot comes along.

D) You never know!

E) Kind of like B, but otherwise not an avenue of thought I've really considered much as a primary intent of using burst mode.

F) As daft as it can sound sometimes this is likely a primary reason many are doing it intentionally. It might not be that plane and background change significantly, but that the framing the photographer has changes. And they'd rather get the frame right in the camera than shoot wide and then fiddle around with it in editing (most of us like the purity of getting as much in the camera correct at the time of the shot - its also more pleasing to get a keeper right there from the get-go than only after editing).

G) Yeah for some it will be.

H) Yep like G for some this will be the case.


Myself. I tend to shoot action subjects so I live in continuous AF and burst mode on my cameras. I also have sufficient card space that this doesn't affect my capacity to shoot through a full day, so the "waste" shots are not prevening me taking more.

This way I can leave many settings such as the AF and the burst mode just as they are and ready for any action/wildlife shot I want without having to bother with the menu. On the 7D if I have a specific subject type that I'm going to work with for a longer period of time where I don't need a burst of shots chances are I'll setup a custom mode for it with custom settings - however I typically don't want to leave the comfort zone of settings that "work" in varied conditions when shooting something on a one-off - even if its a one-off for the day sometimes.

I will admit that most of the time my bursts are closer to a small group of shots - I don't gun for several seconds and get dozens of identical shots.
Chris_L 6 5.5k United Kingdom
21 Sep 2014 9:04PM
It seems like the press do it all time at press conferences as soon as the person moves, competing for that unique frame - the under-pressure football manager, the distraught mother etc.

A group of photographers I suppose will sound worse.

I do take several frames of things I shoot - just in case shots. I've only used that drive mode when each frame is very likely to be different. For most stuff, even if it is moving, I follow and 'fire' when I see the picture come together in the frame, I'll almost certainly fire a couple more - manually.
Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
21 Sep 2014 9:05PM

Quote:btw my photo was pretty crap! Maybe im jealous of machine gun cameras


You need one of these
Chris_L 6 5.5k United Kingdom
21 Sep 2014 9:06PM
Machine-gunning also means that you run the risk that your camera's buffer is full and it's writing to the card when a much better shot comes along.
Pete Plus
19 18.8k 97 England
21 Sep 2014 9:10PM
Dont get me wrong I'm not against machine gunning for the right subject - at a press conference theres one shot where the expression or body stance will be perfect and it's a necessity, but a metal plane with only a propeller appearing to change against a sky or trees that dont vary is just not necessary.
franken Plus
18 5.1k 4 United Kingdom
21 Sep 2014 9:14PM
Coming from the days of film, I rarely go into machine gun mode.

The last time I used it was for capturing a swan doing a cumbersome landing on a lake and I ended up with quite a few similar shots.

A friend of mine uses it all of the time and when I asked him why, his reply was that it guarantees a shot. (we were shooting landscapes at the time)Smile
Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
21 Sep 2014 9:20PM
I don`t even use focus tracking let alone continuous.
brian1208 17 11.8k 12 United Kingdom
21 Sep 2014 9:22PM
The only time I "machine gun" is if I'm trying to get a particular sequence / moment.

Then I will set to either 10 or 15 fps, track the action until the moment just before I think its about to happen then shoot a burst of between 5 and 10 frames

Otherwise its single shot or, at most 3 shots at 5 fps

I never use tracking, just single shot AF

(Things like Bees in Flight, windsurfer / kite surfer jumps or the Red Arrow doing a cross-over would get the "burst" treatment)
Pete Plus
19 18.8k 97 England
21 Sep 2014 9:24PM
Yes Brian that's when so much changes and it is better to ensure the "decisive moment" machine gunning justified Wink
brian1208 17 11.8k 12 United Kingdom
21 Sep 2014 9:28PM

Quote:Yes Brian that's when so much changes and it is better to ensure the "decisive moment" machine gunning justified Wink


What a relief - can I still keep my "Boys Own Photographers badge" then Pete Grin
Big Bri 19 16.6k United Kingdom
21 Sep 2014 9:29PM
I got a 40D because it had a faster FPS than my 5D. Never was happy with any of the photos taken on machine gun mode.

Now I use a 6D, don't know what the FPS is, don't care Smile
LensYews 11 1.3k 1 United Kingdom
21 Sep 2014 9:59PM
Used to use it all the time for horseracing, spend ages finding the right position, camera angle & height, backdrop, lighting and anticipating where the action will take place and prefocusing or setting manual focus at that point and then use a timed burst as the horses jump the fence. I'd adjust those to suit the action as the horses approached my position. Yes sometimes I went too early and ended up with wasted frames, occasionally the action was spread out in a way I hit the buffer limits (using the fastest cf cards available to clear again as quickly as possible), but it did mean a reduced risk of horse blinking, or the jockey pulling a face, etc., even if I didn't quite get exactly the 'moment' but something good enough for publication. I left the camera on 10fps drive and taught myself to shoot single frames in that mode for most of the rest of the day's photos. Awards ceremonies also used the burst mode to try and ensure one frame without closed eyes.

Never photographed a plane so not sure what settings I'd use. Might be tempted with continuous for a fast jet

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