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My goals is to take a burst of photos at the highest possible FPS. What settings should I use, other than the ones below?

  1. Save as JPEG standard, rather than fine, RAW or RAW + JPEG.
  2. Using the speed priority continuous mode, if the focus and exposure aren't going to change between photos in the burst. Alternatively, using manual focus.
  3. Is using continuous autofocus going to slow down the burst speed? Or does it set the camera to release priority rather than focus priority, resulting in mis-focused shots, in which case I don't want to use continuous AF.
  4. My camera has an "AEL w/ shutter" option that controls whether exposure is locked when the shutter button is half-pressed. Does that affect the burst speed?
  5. Does the autofocus area matter? (Multi, center, flexible spot)
  6. Does the metering mode matter? (Multi, center, and spot)

Are there other settings to pay attention to, to be able to take a burst at the highest possible FPS?

This is on the Sony NEX-5R.

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  • Use the lowest available ISO. Shooting at the camera's/sensor's native resolution requires the camera's processor to do less work. Most cameras also do less in camera noise reduction at the lower ISO settings.

  • Use a shutter speed faster than the camera's flash sync speed. This means the time required to take each photo is the shutter's minimum transit time.

  • Use manual focus. Any form of AF will require more time than MF. If you insist on using AF, then use a setting that only focuses before the first shot and then shoots the entire burst without refocusing. If your camera has an AF-On button or focus lock button holding it down for the entire burst should accomplish this, depending on how the camera is set up via possible custom functions and menus.

  • Use manual exposure. Any form of metering will require more time than manual metering. If you insist on using an auto exposure mode, then use a setting that only meters before the first shot and then shoots the entire burst without remetering. If your camera has an AE-L button or exposure lock button holding it down for the entire burst should accomplish this, depending on how the camera is set up via possible custom functions and menus.

The above are in the order from most to least impact in most normal situations. Obviously if the shutter speed is set at very slow times it will have more of an impact. The same is true of AF if you are in a situation that makes it difficult for the camera to confirm focus. ISO can have a very significant effect on the time the processor needs to process the data from the sensor. Metering probably only makes a few microseconds difference in most cases.

  • I understand that manual focus and metering are faster, but as long as I'm using automatic focus and metering, do (5) and (6) in the question matter? – Vaddadi Kartick Sep 26 '14 at 8:49
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    I'd be amazed if metering calculations slowed down the shooting speed given that's it's done using an ASIC where 1/10th of a second is an eternity. – Matt Grum Sep 26 '14 at 9:23
  • @MattGrum Every fraction of a second counts when you are talking about some cameras, such as the Canon 1D X or the Nikon D4 that move at 11-14 fps. For DSLRs the mirror has to pause long enough to confirm metering and focus before it starts swinging back up. I would imagine it would have a much less impact on mirrorless cameras. – Michael C Sep 26 '14 at 10:21
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    @MichaelClark The 1DX has a 100,000 pixel metering sensor which has it's own dedicated DIGIC4 processor (which can crunch through (demosaic, apply filters and reencode) the 5DII's 22,000,000 pixels with ease). Reading 100,000 pixels (no need to do any demosaicing) and performing a lookup is a breeze for an application specific chip designed to do nothing other than process pixels. Even if it takes as long as a microsecond then that's going to be well within the accuracy to which most people can measure the shooting speed! – Matt Grum Sep 26 '14 at 10:56
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    In short, noise reduction, card write speed and particularly autofocus have been shown to have a measurable impact on continuous shooting speed. Metering has not. – Matt Grum Sep 26 '14 at 10:57

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