Shutter Lag is the number one complaint amongst compact digital camera owners. Shutter lag is the time between pressing the button and when the image capturing device actually takes the picture. Sometimes this delay can be more than a second and very frustrating if you are trying to get that once-in-a-lifetime photo. This problem is less common in expensive, professional dSLR models; however, most of us don t need or want large, expensive products.

Unfortunately, there is nothing on the product s box or technical specs that will relay the shutter lag time. The lag is attributed to a combination of things including auto focus, processor and memory. Often companies will boast about their lag time, but take this information with a grain of salt, because for now there is no industry standard to measure a device s shutter lag time. 

Here are a few steps you can take to minimize the amount of shutter lag in your compact digital camera:

Ready the Focus- Auto focus is one of the many contributors to shutter lag. When you press the button to capture your shot the image capturing device takes into account the lighting and subjects and needs to focus. If you know a shot is going to be taken or are anticipating a reaction (like a child opening a birthday gift) press the button halfway first, this allows the device to focus and adjust prior to taking the photo. Then when everyone is ready or that special moment presents itself press the button down completely.

Turn off the Flash- Most image capturing devices use the flash by default; however, you can turn it off. If you are outside or in a well lit room turn off the flash and ready your focus. By taking this one step out of the process you are sure to shorten the lag.

Get a Faster Memory Card- Before doing this, read your owner s manual. Sometimes this option works if your device can process a faster memory card, but most products will max out at a certain speed. Make sure you know what that speed is so you don t spend extra money unnecessarily.

Keep your Batteries Fully Charged- If your batteries are low on juice they can slow down your entire system. If you are using rechargeable batteries or if your device has a special Lithium-ion battery, be sure they are completely charged before prolonged periods of use. If you are using disposable batteries, make sure they are relatively new. Over time, disposable batteries will drain even when it is not in use. 

Use Burst Mode- This is a mode on the image capturing device that allows you to shoot a series of photos continuously. This is a great feature for times you can t necessarily pre-focus the device like little league games or dance performances. However, the effectiveness of this feature is greatly improved when using the best memory card for your model.

In recent years, compact digital cameras have become very popular. Rarely do you see someone carrying a device that still uses standard 35mm film. These compact products allow us to see if someone blinked in the shot and immediately try again; and no longer are we forced to waste half a roll just to get images developed.  However, for all the bonuses that they provide, we are still at the mercy of technology, and sometimes technology just doesn t evolve as fast or as cheap as we d like it to.

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