I have a Canon 550D and when I look through my view-finder to take photographs, it displays all the current settings inside the view-finder itself like aperture value, shutter speed, ISO etc.

However, it also displays a number on the far right corner. That number is 9. It always is 9 and I don't know what that signifies. Any clue?

One more thing, sometimes that number also has a dot besides it when the camera isn't focused properly on the subject.


The far right side of canon view-finder status bar is the camera's current burst capacity, basically how many shots you can take in a hurry before it blocks and can't take any more. If you put it into high speed shooting (sports mode for example) and watch that value as you click off shots in a hurry you'll see it go down as you fill memory in the camera with shots, then rise back up as you pause and it writes them out to the card. As Shizam mentioned, adjusting your file type can alter that since different formats take more/less memory. Other impacts on it are card speed and image composition. (Some images compress really well, so you'll get more images in memory before the camera stops taking pictures.)

The green dot is Focus Lock. When it's ON the camera thinks it has properly focused your image. When in AI Servo AF mode if it is blinking it means the camera can't achieve focus. Of course it could be total fail and it's focused on the background, but it doesn't know that. You might need to adjust your autofocus points that you're letting it use, or use the good old half-press, focus at center, recompose, shoot pattern. The green dot is particularly useful if, like me, you've turned off the audible tweet announcing to the world that you're focused and about to take shot.


That is how many photos the camera can 'burst'. Changing the output file type (RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG) can affect this number. The dot is focus confirmation, it shows when AF has locked onto something.

See the 'Viewfinder view' here:


  • Is that burst value equivalent to camera's fps ?
    – Rish
    Nov 5 '10 at 20:39
  • Nope, when a camera lists 'FPS' thats how fast it can take pictures 'Frames Per Second'. The burst is how many frames it can take before having to slow down or stop taking pictures.
    – Shizam
    Nov 5 '10 at 20:46
  • 1
    Related: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/4656/…
    – che
    Nov 5 '10 at 22:53
  • 1
    I get it. It's some kind of RAM that a camera has. I'm relating it to computers though, but I guess this pretty much explains the fact.
    – Rish
    Nov 6 '10 at 4:36
  • 1
    @Rish, the word I think you're looking for is "buffer". When the buffer is full, the camera's FPS will drop while it offloads the images to your card.
    – Conor Boyd
    Nov 7 '10 at 20:15

This camera's user manual is available online.

On pp. 19 (overview) and 248 (quick reference) it shows the full viewfinder display with a gloss explaining every part of it. In particular, the number on the lower right is labeled "max. burst". Additional information about this reading is found by searching the manual for "burst"; useful pages include 70, 72 ("...maximum burst will vary depending on the subject, card brand, ISO speed, Custom Functions, and other settings."), 73 (explaining that the max. burst display cannot show values greater than 9), 102 (max. burst is less during WB shooting), 193 (with strong ISO noise reduction, max. burst will "greatly decrease"), p 220 (fine detail increases file size which can reduce max. burst rate).

From this information we can infer that the burst rate bottleneck is due both to on-camera processing speed (depending on noise reduction and file size) and transfer rates to the card.

Similarly, referring to your owner's manual will explain the focus lock settings.

You can get a lot out of your camera by reading through this manual and referring to it often.

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