Shutter lag

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In photography, shutter lag is the delay between triggering the shutter and when the photograph is actually recorded. This is a common problem in the photography of fast-moving objects or animals and people in motion. The term narrowly refers only to shutter effects, but more broadly refers to all lag between when the shutter button is pressed and when the photo is taken, including metering and focus lag.

Film cameras[edit]

In film cameras, the delay is caused by the mechanism inside the camera that opens the shutter, exposing the film. Because the process is mechanical, however, and relatively brief, shutter lag in film cameras is often only noticeable (and of any concern) to professionals. SLRs have slightly longer shutter lag than rangefinders, because of the need to lift the mirror. Point-and-shoot film cameras often have significant shutter lag.

Digital cameras[edit]

Shutter lag is much more of a problem with digital cameras. Here, the delay results from the charging of the charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor and relatively slow transmission of its capture data to the circuitry of the camera for processing and storage.

The comet-tail artifact that early CCD sensors suffered from was significantly reduced by the invention of the pinned photodiode (PPD).[1] It was invented by Nobukazu Teranishi, Hiromitsu Shiraki and Yasuo Ishihara at NEC in 1980.[1][2] The "pinned photodiode" is a photodetector structure used in almost all charge-coupled device (CCD) and CMOS image sensors (CIS) due to its low noise, high quantum efficiency and low dark current.[1] In 1987, the PPD began to be incorporated into most CCD devices, becoming a fixture in consumer electronic video cameras and then digital still cameras. The PPD has since been used in most CCD sensors and then CMOS sensors.[1]

Improvements in technology, such as the speed, bandwidth and power consumption of processor chips and memory, as well as CCD technology and then CMOS sensors, have made shutter lag less of a problem. While digital SLRs have achieved lag times around 50 ms by the late 2000s, some EVILs take half as long in the 2010s. That said, the lag times of some exceptional historic devices is still unsurpassed, see table below.

AE & AF lag[edit]

However, what many people consider shutter lag is in fact the time the camera takes to meter (set the exposure) and auto-focus, which is lag of a different cause but similar effect.

These causes of lag can be eliminated by pre-setting exposure and focus. One can either manually set exposure and focus, or use automatic exposure and autofocus, then fixing the settings so they do not change; this can often be done by holding the shutter release halfway down, or by using a separate "AE / AF lock" button (useful if taking multiple photographs that are not in a burst), and means the subsequent photographs will be taken faster. These techniques can be combined – one can manually set the exposure and then use AF lock or conversely.

Examples of various shutter lag times[edit]

Note that cameras offer increasingly varied choices of fully mechanical shutter, first-courtain electronic shutter (EFCS; meaning a mechanical shutter only at the end of the exposure), or fully electronic (thus silent) shutter. This is paired with either autofocus, fully manual focus, or prefocus (half-pressing the shutter button to engage autofocus and lock exposure; then holding the button half-pressed until the decisive picture-taking moment, in which the button is depressed completely). Typically, prefocus + EFCS results in the shortest shutter lag (see the following individual sources with measurements for all available modi).

This table quotes the shortest possible lag time of the respective camera. Note that variations may occur between manufacturer-claimed times and real-world measurements. In the case of follow-up versions of cameras (Mark II, -N, -s, ...), it is usually save to assume identical performance unless explicitly stated otherwise in press releases or comparisons.

Camera Type Shutter lag [ms]
Nikon Coolpix L3 Point-and-shoot (digital) 1800
Nikon Coolpix S550 Point-and-shoot (digital) 590
Panasonic DMC Lumix FS20 Point-and-shoot (digital) 480
Canon PowerShot A590 IS Point-and-shoot (digital) 350
Samsung Nx-Mini SLR (digital, APS) 164[3]
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W80 Point-and-shoot (digital) 150
Pentax MZ-50 SLR (Film) 120
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D SLR (digital, APS-C, built-in image stabilization) 117[4]
Sony NEX-5 EVIL (APS) 115[5]
Fujifilm GFX 50S EVIL (44mm) 108[6]
Fujifilm GFX 100 EVIL (44mm) 105[7]
Fujifilm GFX 50R EVIL (44mm) 102[8]
Minolta Maxxum 9 [de] SLR (Film) 90[9]
Sigma SD1 SLR (APS) 88[10]
Leica M8 Rangefinder (Digital, APS-H) 80
Leica M9 Rangefinder (Digital, 35mm) 80
Sony A850 SLR (digital, 35mm, built-in image stabilization) 74[11]
Sony A900 SLR (digital, 35mm, built-in image stabilization) 72[12]
Minolta XD-7 SLR (Film) 60
Nikon Z7 and Z6 EVIL (35mm) 59[13] and 56[14] respectively, 69-70[15] both
Canon EOS-5D Mark IV and 5DS SLR (digital, 35mm) 57,[16][17] 61-63[15]
Canon EOS-1D X SLR (digital, 35mm) 57-58,[15] 36[18]
Nikon Df SLR (digital, 35mm) 55-57[15]
Nikon D300s SLR (digital, APS) 53
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 SLR (digital, APS, built-in image stabilization) 53[19]
Canon EOS-1D Mark II SLR (digital, APS-H) 53,[20] 40[citation needed]
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV SLR (digital, APS-H) 49
Leica SL 601 EVIL (35mm) 46[21]
Nikon D700 and 800 SLR (digital, 35mm) 44,[15] less than D500, 600, 610, 750, 810, and 850.
Nikon D3s SLR (digital, 35mm) 43
Nikon D3x SLR (digital, 35mm) 40
Nikon D5 SLR (digital, 35mm) 39,[22] 43-57[15]
Minolta XE-1 SLR (Film) 38
Nikon D2H, D2Hs, D2X SLR (digital, APS) 37[23]
Nikon F6 SLR (Film) 37
Contax RTS33 SLR (Film) 22
Sony A7 and A7 III EVIL (35mm) 21-25,[15] 23[24] [25]
Sony NEX-7, NEX-5N, a6x00 series EVIL (APS) 20-25,[15] 22[26]
Sony A7r II EVIL (35mm) 20,[27] 21-26[15] (noticeably faster than the 163 ms of Mark 1; 3 ms faster than Mark 3 and 4)
Sony A7s EVIL (35mm) 20-23[15]
Leica M3 Rangefinder (Film) 16
Leica M7 Rangefinder (Film) 12
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-F828 Point-and-shoot (digital) 9[28] = manufacturer claim. Note that Sony claims the same 9 ms for models P93, T33 and W1; ImagingResource tested them at 11 ms[29][30][31]
Canon EOS RT SLR (Film) 8[32]
Canon EOS-1N RS SLR (Film) 6[33]


  1. ^ a b c d Fossum, Eric R.; Hondongwa, D. B. (2014). "A Review of the Pinned Photodiode for CCD and CMOS Image Sensors". IEEE Journal of the Electron Devices Society. 2 (3): 33–43. doi:10.1109/JEDS.2014.2306412.
  2. ^ U.S. Patent 4,484,210: Solid-state imaging device having a reduced image lag
  3. ^ "Samsung NX Mini Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  4. ^ Imaging-Resource Preview Konica Minolta Dynax/Maxxum/Alpha 7D
  5. ^ Imaging-Resource Preview Sony Alpha NEX-5
  6. ^ "Fujifilm GFX 50S Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  7. ^ "Fujifilm GFX 100 Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  8. ^ "Fujifilm GFX 50R Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  9. ^ Josef Scheibel, Robert Scheibel: Foto-Guide Minolta Dynax 9. vfv Verlag für Foto, Film und Video, Gilching 1999, ISBN 3-88955-116-5 (176 pages, [1], retrieved at 8 January 2011).
  10. ^ "Sigma SD1 Merrill Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  11. ^ Imaging-Resource Preview Sony Alpha DSLR-A850 (Firmware 1)
  12. ^ Imaging-Resource Preview Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 (Firmware 1)
  13. ^ "Nikon Z7 Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  14. ^ "Nikon Z6 Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Eltima Shutter Lag Tests" (PDF). Eltima. Retrieved 2022-02-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ "Canon 5D Mark IV Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  17. ^ "Canon 5DS Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  18. ^ "Canon Professional Network - The EOS-1D X explained: inside Canon's flagship DSLR". Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  19. ^ Imaging-Resource Preview Sony Alpha SLT-A77V
  20. ^ "Canon 1DX Mark II Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  21. ^ "Leica SL (Typ 601) Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  22. ^ "Nikon D5 Review - Performance". Imaging Resource. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  23. ^ "Nikon D2hs Press Release". 2005-02-16. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
  24. ^ "Sony A7 Review".
  25. ^ "Sony A7 III Review - Performance".
  26. ^ Imaging-Resource Preview Sony Alpha NEX-5N
  27. ^ "Sony A7R II Review - Performance".
  28. ^ "Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828 Digital Camera Review: Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests". Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  29. ^ "Digital Cameras - Picky Details of the Sony Cybershot DSC-P93 Digital Camera". Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  30. ^ "Digital Cameras - Picky Details of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T33 Digital Camera". Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  31. ^ "Digital Cameras - Picky Details of the Sony CyberShot DSC-W1 Digital Camera". Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  32. ^ "EOS RT - Canon Camera Museum". Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  33. ^ "EOS-1N RS - Canon Camera Museum". Retrieved 2022-02-19.

External links[edit]