Canon PowerShot G12, Keeping Up with Continuous Drive Mode

Getting great focus is one thing, but capturing the best moment on the sensor can be difficult if you are shooting just one frame at a time. In the world of sports, and in life in general, things move pretty fast. If you blink, you might miss it. The same can be said for shooting in the Single Shot drive mode.

The drive mode determines how fast your camera will take pictures. The Single Shot drive mode is for taking one photograph at a time. With every full press of the shutter, the camera will take a single image. The Continuous mode allows for a more rapid capture rate. Think of it like a machine gun. In Continuous mode, the camera continues to take pictures as long as the shutter release button is held down (or until the buffer fills up).

The Continuous—or “burst”—mode lets you capture a series of images at up to 2 frames per second. Admittedly, that’s not terribly impressive when you’re shooting fast action, especially compared to the output that DSLRs can produce (anywhere from 3 to 12 or more frames per second). However, that’s still faster than shooting in Single Shot mode when you take into consideration the time it takes to write the image to the memory card and prepare for the next shot. See Figure 5.5.

Use the Continuous drive mode to capture sequences or make sure you’re getting the action.
Figure 5.5 Use the Continuous drive mode to capture sequences or make sure you’re getting the action. [Photos: Jeff Carlson]
The G12 also features two other Continuous shooting modes: Continuous Shooting AF engages the autofocus while firing off shots to try to keep each shot sharp; the regular Continuous mode locks focus when you press the shutter button halfway. Continuous Shooting LV replaces its AF counterpart when you’ve set a manual focus point. The shots-per-second rate is reduced to 0.7 and 0.8 images per second, respectively, for these two modes, since they’re performing other processing tasks.

Setting up the continuous drive mode

Setting up the continuous drive mode

To shoot, just press the shutter button and hold until the desired number of frames has been captured.

Your camera has an internal memory, called a “buffer,” where images are stored while they are being processed prior to being moved to your memory card. Depending on the image format you are using, the buffer might fill up, and the camera will stop shooting until space is made in the buffer for new images. If this happens, you will see the word “Busy” appear on the LCD panel. The camera readout in the viewfinder tells you how many frames you have available.


Canon PowerShot G12, P: Program Mode

There’s a reason Program mode is only one click away from the Automatic modes: With respect to aperture and shutter speed, the camera is doing most of the thinking for you. So, if that is the case, why even bother with Program mode? It doesn’t give as much control over the image-making process as the other Creative modes, but there are occasions when it comes in handy, such as shooting in widely changing lighting conditions, or when you’re willing to give up ultimate control of the scene in the greater service of getting the shot. Think of a picnic outdoors in a partial shade/sun environment. I want great-looking pictures, but I’m not looking for anything to hang in a museum. If that’s the scenario, why choose Program over one of the Automatic modes? Because it still offers choices and control that none of those modes can deliver.

When to use Program (P) mode instead of the Automatic modes

  • When shooting in a casual environment where quick adjustments are needed
  • When you want control over the ISO
  • If you want to make corrections to the white balance
  • If you want to shoot in RAW

Let’s go back to our picnic scenario. As I said, the light is moving from deep shadow to bright sunlight, which means the camera is trying to balance three photo factors (ISO, aperture, and shutter speed) to make a good exposure. From Chapter 1, you know that Auto ISO is just not a consideration, so we’re not using that setting on the ISO dial (right?).

Well, in Program mode, you can choose which ISO you would like the camera to base its exposure on. The lower the ISO number, the better the quality of the photographs, but the less light-sensitive the camera becomes. It’s a balancing act with the main goal always being to keep the ISO as low as possible—too low an ISO, and you get camera shake in images from a long shutter speed; and too high an ISO means you have an unacceptable amount of digital noise. For our purposes, let’s go ahead and select ISO 400 to provide enough sensitivity for those shadows while allowing the camera to use shutter speeds that are fast enough to stop motion.

Let’s set up the camera for Program mode and see how we can make all this come together.

Setting up and shooting in Program mode

  1. Turn your camera on and turn the Mode dial to P.
  2. Select your ISO by rotating the ISO dial (see the sidebar, “Starting Points for ISO Selection”).
  3. Point the camera at your subject and activate the camera meter by pressing the shutter button halfway.
  4. View the exposure information at the bottom of the LCD.
  5. Start clicking. As you shoot, feel free to adjust the ISO to compensate: If the photos are coming out blurry, increase the ISO to raise the shutter speed; if the image looks good, try dropping the ISO setting and see if you can keep the quality while reducing the digital noise.

The downside to shooting in Program mode is that you’re relying on the camera to pick what it believes are suitable exposure values using its internal meter. Sometimes it doesn’t know what it’s looking at and how you want those values applied (Figure 4.1 and Figure 4.2). That’s when it’s time to start adjusting the settings by hand.

Starting points for ISO select ion

There is a lot of discussion concerning ISO in this and other chapters, but it might be helpful if you know where your starting points should be for your ISO settings. The first thing you should always try to do is use the lowest possible ISO setting. That being said, here are good starting points for your ISO settings:

  • 80 or 100: Bright sunny day
  • 200: Hazy or outdoor shade on a sunny day
  • 400: Indoor lighting at night or cloudy conditions outside
  • 800: Late-night, low-light conditions or sporting arenas at night

These are just suggestions, and your ISO selection will depend on a number of factors that will be discussed later in the book. You might have to push your ISO even higher as needed, but at least now you know where to start.

The camera settings are affected by the flat sky as well as the color of the paint on the front of the building.
Figure 4.1 The camera settings are affected by the flat sky as well as the color of the paint
on the front of the building.
By recomposing slightly, the light meter focused on the wall, resulting in a change of exposure. [Photos: Jeff Carlson]
Figure 4.2 By recomposing slightly, the light meter focused on the wall, resulting in a change of exposure. [Photos: Jeff Carlson]