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Monday, 28 January 2008


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Speed is addictive. At first my Nikon FE-2 shooting at 3.5 frames per second seemed fast. Faster than I could ever need, or afford! Then the D100 seemed just as fast but was annoying when the buffer filled. The D200 was great at 4 fps. Now the D300 at 6fps. Now I'm waiting for the subject, not the camera!
But most of the shots are now deleted almost immediately upon first seeing. Maybe I will get the battery pack that makes the camera even faster so I can delete even more photos!
Then again, maybe I should take the 4x5 down from the shelf and slow down the taking of photos to be deleted.

I think that many people who complain about the slow frame rate are simply trying to keep up with the Joneses. Canon & Nikon all have cameras that shoot at higher rates, so therefore Pentax needs it too. Pentax has never had a camera that shot faster than 3 FPS. Why are users expecting it now?

The thing is... When you need a sequence, you're generally after something that is happening in a very short lapse of time, something you don't trust your reflexes to catch.

Now, a precision of a third of a second is perfectly within reflex range... You have more chances grabbing the moment with a single shot than with a 1/3s cycle.

Inversely, if you're after an actual sequence (ie the moment doesn't matter as much as having shots at regular times), I'd also go as far as saying that 3fps isn't all that much information (unless you're documenting the walk cycle, and then again...).

2 reasons I use bursts - sports (mainly cycling for me) where I want to get in a bunch of shots in a short space. My Canon EOS 20D is about right at 5fps but I'd like a bigger burst (max 6 RAW is a bit small to be ready for the next shot).
Second is handheld brackets. I use a technique pretty much the same as Uwe Steinmuller's high-speed HDR. This I find really useful in highly variable and mixed light to ensure I get a good exposure (without worrying endlessly about exposure values), or several for blending. Faster the better - less chance of camera motion bewteen shots.

Overall I think 5fps is about right but I wouldn't accept anything slower.

The FPS argument has always confused me. 99% of the time, I've felt no need to shoot more than 1 frame at a time. And when I have felt the need, 3 frames per second has been more than enough. I've shot dance and sports in single frame mode (with manual focus lenses no less) and never had any problem getting the shot. I understand someone not trusting their reflexes, but eventually enough is enough. Eventually, it's the machine doing the work of the artist's eye, and where does that leave the artist?

Like you, I don't know what the big deal is, but I have never shot sports. Maybe the guys on the sidelines of football games just shoot and shoot and hope to catch some magic moment. I can see that. If you're depending on that for a living, then every little edge helps, I would guess.

I had a Canon Elan for while and never used the continuous burst mode, or whatever the name is. I bought myself a 2nd hand Oly E-1 recently to shoot automobile rallying in the woods, mostly. I thought some moisture and dust sealing would be good. I tried the burst mode on it just to see if it worked, my first time ever. Maybe it will be useful, I don't know, I am going to an event in 2 weeks up north in the Quebec snow and aim to try it out. The limiting aspect of this feature for me is not the fps or buffer size, but the fact that to change modes I have to have my reading glasses handy and that's annoying. I'll try to train my fingers at home the night before so that I can do it blind. But I have shot car races, for my own pleasure, with manual focus Pentaxes and I never missed a shot I wanted because of a camera deficiency.

I miss flicking the lever with my thumb.

I just read Martin's comment about burst exposure bracketing. Makes sense, that.

I bought a D200 last year not so much for the 5fps but for the overall boost in responsiveness compared to a D70. Faster focus, a better viewfinder and shorter cycle times all play into this. Even if you are not using the 5fps continuous, the camera feels like it comes "back to you" faster after taking a shot.

That said, in retrospect I think I would have rather had the D80's smaller size and the D70's faster flash sync. Oh well.

There was one time when 5fps came in handy. I was able to do a hand-held 5 frame bracket and use a bit of Photoshop to make up for not knowing how to use ND grad filters:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/535351471/

I read a post on dpreview suggesting that frame rate is the only thing keeping Pentax from being a "major player". (As a former Minolta, now Sony user, I have to recognize that a couple decades worth of building market share presents a challenge that requires more than a high frame rate :)

Each time I've bought a new camera, on the first day I have it, I put it into continuous mode, hold down the shutter just to see what it sounds like. Then I put it back in single shot mode and leave it there. I'll occasionally shoot a number of frames nearly back to back, but each one requiring a press of the shutter release at the moment I want it.

I voted for the second option.
Fast fps is nice to have, but not essential. And by fast I mean 8 fps. 5 fps is marginal, 3 (like I have now) is too slow to be of any use.

In my usage there are two situations where fast fps would be useful.
The first is when you're not exactly sure when the right moment will be. It might be the first frame in a burst, but it could also be the second frame (the third will be too late).
The second situation is when you're shooting in low light and shoot two frames to get one sharp frame, the second. The first might not be sharp because of the movement of pressing the shutter, often the second frame will be sharper. But really you need more than 3 fps for this to work I feel.

Reading a few gripe threads on DPReview, I thought most people are more frustrated with auto focus speed than FPS performance.

I believe they were shooting motorsports; as usual, I found these excellent shots linked to the same forum:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lazar/497625646/in/photostream/, cycling, skiing, and freestyle motorcross......

Every time I've done the machine gun approach, I've ended up with a long sequence of mediocre shots that invariably all get deleted upon reviewing. On the other hand, all my best action shots (e.g. fashion/catwalk, motorsport, candids) have been well-timed single exposures. So I've come to the conclusion that high FPS do not matter much to me, as long as the shutter lag is short and the camera buffer does not prevent me from taking another shot. I suspect that a higher-rate body such as 8 or 10 FPS might be better as fewer interesting moments would fall in-between the fixed interval exposures. If your intention is to produce time-lapse type imagery then by all means, a high FPS body will come handy. Otherwise - I am quite happy with my K10D, thanks very much.

I think Mike Hamilton hit the nail on the head. Even if dSLRs have come down a lot in price, and even if they are far more capable than earlier cameras, the cost of a camera is still serious money to most people. This is especially true since people tend to get the best camera they can afford, not the cheapest camera that suits their needs. So regardless of whether a camera costs $500, $1,500 or $5,000, it's a lot of money to the buyer. And people always want to feel like they are getting the most for their money. If Nikon and Canon cameras have 5 or 6 fps, then the Pentax must, too, even if the buyer will never use it.

BTW, high fps occasionally come in useful for portraits (especially group portraits). People tend to relax their forced, fake smiles after the first picture, since they don't expect another picture to be taken in quick succession. This means the 2nd or 3rd frame in a burst has a better chance of being more natural. It also gives you a variety of expressions without taxing your subject's patience.

But ultimately Roger is right. For most people, a high frame rate just results in more pictures to delete. If people really need a high frame rate, more power to them. They will buy what they need. But it would really be a shame if other people didn't buy the K20D (or any other camera) based on frame rate alone.


I think if I were a sports photographer -- which I'm not -- a fast burst rate would be absolutely crucial. As it stands, I do use the 5fps burst rate on my Nikon D200 on occasion, but it's usually a rare occasion. It's nice to know I have it if I need it, but as camera features go, I think I'd trade it for a higher flash-sync speed or built-in image stabilization.

For real high fps addicts, the K20D has also a 20fps mode for up to 115frames... only it is at 1.6MP resolution ;-)

Could be cool for water drops or golf swings...

My daughter used to ride and jump horses, i.e., hunter/jumper. My first DSLR, which I continue to use, is a Canon EOS 1D, which features an 8 fps "motor drive."

My daughter's trainer was ecstatic the first time I gave her a CD of images I captured during a lesson. I had turned on the motor drive and shot sequences of 3 to 5 frames showing the approach, jump, and landing. The trainer could see in the stills important details not readily visible in videos. When shooting a lesson of six riders, which I did about once a quarter, I typically shot 600 to 800 frames during one hour.

However, when shooting them in a competition I never turned on the motor drive. The photos I like best show the horse and rider rising from the ground or having just left the ground, usually taken from the side or somewhat in front of the jump. Attempting to capture that peak moment using the motor drive generally fails, while, with practice, a single shot capture produces an acceptable result most of the time.

From an equipment point of view, for shooting the equestrian events, minimal shutter lag was much more important than fps.


To take up Pavel's comment and turn the screw a little more:

If only women could plop out babies as fast as I can impregnate ...

Like every tool, super fast "winding" will only help your photos if you know what you are doing in the first place. Professionalism - in the wider sense - is all about knowing the limitations of your gear and how to make the best use of it. Most hobbyists and probably many amateurs will use their gear to about 30%, pros go to 90%.* This holds true in any profession, may it be photography, motorcycling or writing [features of MS Word anybody?].

*These numbers are a) highly inaccurate, b) not directly connected to the number of features used by any user, c) pulled out of my hat like any good statistics should be.

Many is the bird whose wing-flap rate coincides perfectly with the 3 fps of my Canon 400D, resulting in a string of shots where their wings are in exactly the same position as the shots before and after; very frustrating. I don't need 10 fps, but I sure lust after 5+ fps. Buffer size is of equal importance, I believe. I remember my 300D buffer size of 3 shots, zowie! One second of continuous fire and I'm up against the buffer..less than inspiring, more like left wanting.

I make pictures of whitewater kayaking, a sport where all the action may occur within a few seconds. Often you can't see exactly when the subject will enter the frame you would like and it is essential to use continuous mode to bracket the subjects arrival in the photo. I use an E500 and isn't so much the FPS rate that holds me back as the buffer size. When I look at upgrading this camera the size of the buffer will be an important criteria for myself.

I'm still using the lowly Pentax *ist DL and I usually find its 2.8fps to be perfectly sufficient. What it lacks however is a decent buffer and to me this is a much more important feature.

Jan Luursema mentioned a technique above that I have found very useful: taking two consecutive frames in burst mode and discarding the first one. I disagree with him about the speed required though, as I find 2.8fps works well for this.

I should note that even though I don't often take bursts, my camera is set permanently to burst mode since there's no disadvantage to doing this. I can single frames when I want to (I suppose this wouldn't be possible with a very fast camera) and bursts if need be.


With my recent E-3 purchase, I joined the exalted ranks of the 5FPS club. Then I found the control to turn it back to 3FPS, and I was much happier.

I never thought I needed this feature until I had children. Their days are an almost infinite collection of "don't blink or you'll miss it" moments. I think 3FPS is plenty, personally. Dunno what I'd do with 6 FPS. Buy more hard-drives, I suppose.

Ben Marks

As Davew mentioned, most of the kvetching is about slow auto focus. For stationary targets the 3fps is fine, but the Pentax can barley manage 1 fps for things in motion. Not a big deal to me becuase I have discovered that my reflexes are so fast that I am routinely able to catch my subjects in mid blink.


I thought that's what Camcorders were for.

As Bob wrote: "… minimal shutter lag is much more important than fps."
That's the point.

The frame rate of a Canon 5D may be OK, but a 1D is much more responive, even in single frame mode. I use the 1D mostly in low burst mode, even when I'm shooting cars. At a rate of +8fps there is nearly no difference between two or three shots.

I belive, that technical a short shutter lag and high frame rate goes hand in hand.

Actually I am always missing out on winding my film manually on newer cameras...

I used to shoot a lot of sports including Division I college sports in the US and this came up every once in a while. Most of the time this would come up from someone saying that to catch the high-point in a scene I must have "a really fast camera!" but then I'd have to explain to them that catching the best moment has nothing to do with speed. I would try to shoot sports at at least 1/350th of a second which would even freeze most digits (i.e. fingers) in the scene and I was shooting with a Nikon D2H at the time which has a burst rate of 8fps. So when the action occurred (and was usually over in a second) I could only capture 8 frames out of a possible 350 since I am shooting at 1/350th of a second (and usually 1/500th so 8 out of 500!). Anytime I relied on my motordrive I racked up mediocre images for my efforts, but if I studied the game and the plays then I made my most amazing shots. In these instances I would shoot a burst of around 4 frames and the 1st one would be the best.

I don't really need 10fps, but I do like a camera that responds that fast. The fastest cameras also tend to have the smallest shutter lag and shortest mirror blackout, the exception being the Leica, which suffers from neither problem. I do like my Leica, and never need a motor with it. Paying attention and getting the right moment has always done better for me than bursting away.

Yes, I do like fast fps performance. However, 3 fps *is* fast in my book.

I applaud Pentax for investing money in (from my point of view) much more critical areas of R&D, such as image quality - including dynamic range and high ISO performance. (More silent shutter and focus corrections for individual lenses aside.)

Sometimes I get a bit psyched when people confuse "needs" with (often unsubstantiated) *wants*: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1036&thread=26488110

Sure, more fps wouldn't hurt "anybody*. But a higher price would.

As an aside: Bigger, badder anything might also be a valid argument to question Pentax' decision to put 14.6 million pixels on the new sensor. Proper image quality assumed at up to ISO 3200, I must say that due to the possibility of more extensive cropping, my DA 21mm Limited just became a bit more versatile...

I voted for the 28mm!!!

It is true that 3fps is too slow to help with framing a fast-moving subject : chances are every frame in the burst will be off. I find I have much better accuracy if I just position the camera and wait for the subject to come into the estimated field of view, not looking through the viewfinder so as to have my full peripheral vision.

On the other hand, sorting through countless 20-frame bursts would take all the fun and enjoyment out of photography for me.

Wow, I just noticed that I didn't even think about the K20D 3fps specs. I was just impressed with the rest. (Basically a K10D with new sensor). However, I did care about my E-3 5fps, probably because I need to justify to my self that it is ok to spend $1800 on a DSLR. :)

The dialog around this on the forums reminds me of the Monty Python "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch where each man tries to one-up the other on how horrible their childhood was. "You were lucky! We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank...." and so on. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo)

I wonder if there is a generational thing going on here - people who grew up with manual film cameras (my first was a Pentax ME-Super in high school) think *luxury!* to even not have to wind it, whereas younger photographers take it for granted that things are motorized and faster is better.

I'm actually looking forward to the K20D's speed, as I have an older *istDS and it does less than 2. But even so, I rarely need to shoot that fast. Back when I was using my Canon T90 that could do almost 5fps with film, I can't even remember if I ever used it. I can see that some people obviously benefit from it, but it's not for me so much.

I only shoot bursts for flight sequences, when I'm doing bird photography. Here's a four-frame composite from such a sequence--


I use a Canon "New" F-1 and a 5 fps motor drive. For a while I tried a smaller and lighter 3 fps power winder (4 AA batteries as opposed to the motor drive's 12 AAs), but it didn't react as quickly in single-frame mode, so I sold it and went back to the faster motor drive.

I don’t think frame rate is a very important spec for my personal camera. Those shooters who do require high frame rates should consider cameras that fit their needs. At least that would seem to be the pragmatic approach to acquiring the right tool for a particular job.

A few weeks ago I decided to retire my trusty Canon 10D camera with a current generation DSLR. I don’t aspire to be a professional wedding hack or high school glamour shootist. I do occasionally dream of selling a few images to help support my habit but being a fulltime photographer is not my goal.

My personal projects involve documenting the people and environment of West Texas and the Texas Hill Country. I also enjoy photographing many local events near my home in San Antonio. The Pentax K20D with weather sealing, in-body IS and 14mp resolution seems like an excellent candidate to replace my antiquated 10D.

To my surprise I found that just mentioning the name Pentax on my usual hangout elicited some extremely sharp reactions. The Pentax shooters were defending their choice of equipment at every turn and the Canon shooters were certain they were the true lords of digital photography. Everyone was busy puffing about being a ‘Pro’ at this or that with greater needs and more insight than any ‘average’ shooter could possibly comprehend. In short, there were way too many weenies pretending to be full course meals.

Until I can read some reviews of the K20D for myself I’ll just have to limp along with my inadequate ancient technology. All I know for sure is that my next camera will be a reduced frame DSLR from Canon. Nikon, Olympus or Pentax. As several people have pointed out here on TOP recently reduced frame DSLRs are all destined for the scrap heap in about a week or ten days, so maybe I should just wait until next year to upgrade.

FPS is like MP; the more you have, the better. The more anything the better. The more smaller, the more bigger, the more faster, the more interior room, the more fries for the dollar, the more calories, the more less calories.

Somewhere in our brain, seeing a bigger number for a similar price just equals "better".

Before fast frame rates became available I didn't lust after them at all. Even when shooting film I do not care for fast FPS just like Mike mentioned the fact that the film gets automatically wound for the next shot.

However now with 8GB card and being able to shoot over 500 raws, having all kinds of bracketing services available I have come to appreciate fast FPS camers and upon choosing the 40D this was one of my criteria for I do actually use my 4 FPS on average quite frequently..... more important in conjunction with this however I find the RAW buffer size, no use having 6 fps if you have a buffer size of 9 Raws....

With respect to bracketing and Raws people might say that you don't need to bracket anything in RAW, I disagree, I choose to think that shooting an image near to perfect will enhance the final result.

I shot sports in college in the early 80's with manual focus film cameras some of which had motors and some did not. The motors help in that I didn't have to think about winding the film (focusing the camera and concentrating on the action was plenty), but never at getting the peak action.

The first and almost only time I shot a burst that turned out useful was when I photographed the first space shuttle launch. I shot almost a whole roll of film with the shutter down (and a second camera with manual wind firing as fast as I could wind it with my thumb). The shuttle wasn't moving so fast that the 3 fps missed all the action between frames and the whole thing was pretty much over anyway after the 10 seconds or so I held the shutter down.

The one case I have found bursts useful is when I'm moving and the subject is not. I find that a short burst is often helpful when I'm trying to handhold the camera using too slow a shutter speed. Some shots in the burst will be sharper than others and the camera firing when it wants to instead of when I tell it to actually seems to help. I don't miss the peak action like I would if the subject was moving, but if I'm lucky, I miss my peak action! FPS doesn't matter very much for this.

Higher speeds are very useful for hand-held HDR composites.

Don't get me wrong, I love my cameras that shoot 8fps, and I need it for my sports work (I'm a photojournalist). Outside of sports and rare other assignments, it just means I shoot more of the same which I then have to edit. For most of my work, and for the work I like, my main body does 3fps. It doesn't matter how many "moments" I have, it only matters that I have the "right" moment.

I agree with all the other posts that say it's better to understand the game or species so you know where the game (or animal) is going - rather than just blast away senselessly.

However, I do think digital has changed the game. Now that you can take a burst without having to develop them all (or change the film every 5 secs), it is very useful to leave the camera set on continuous. Although, habit means I often take 1 or 2 shots, when I do take more it's often better - because you often get more choice.

I do agree that fast camera responses esp. autofocus and read/write speed are more important than FPS. 10 FPS is no good if half are out of focus. SInce my F5, 5 FPS has always been fast enough for me. In theory 3 fps is fine , but the truth is just that a camera with 3 fps probably doesn't read/write that quickly or focus that quickly.

Back when I got my Nikon F70 in 1995, I was kind of excited at its 3.7fps motor drive, but in practice, I was afraid of wasting film so I rarely (perhaps never) took advantage.

Now that wasting frames is 'free' in the digital age, I've tried a few bursts and have concluded that I was right not to waste film back when it cost money.

Okay I exaggerate just a touch. Obviously there's a time and a place for high-speed shooting, and 3 fps on my K10D has been useful on occasion, and while 5fps might also be nice on rare occasions, I'd never base a purchasing decision on it.

Following up on Kevin White's comment about "more is better", that is often the perception of people at the buying stage, but less so once in ongoing use.

James Surowiecki wrote about this in the New Yorker:

However, there is usually a trade-off, in this case more fps requires bigger motors and more robust (heavier) mechanisms to handle the speed. I'm willing to bet that if Pentax did bump the speed to 5fps a lot of people would complain about how big and heavy the camera had become, because it was known for producing small and light DSLRs...

If image quality were all that truly mattered, we'd all be lugging around 8x10 view cameras on large wood tripods and getting 3 frames per hour...

I had little use for anything but single shot until I started messing with HDR. Now I occasionally use burst mode to take 3 bracketed shots hand held. 3-5 fps is good enough for me. I never pay attention to that stat when looking at new bodies. On the other hand, I'd kill for a bigger, brighter viewfinder. Why isn't the viewfinder in my $2000+ Canon 5D as big, bright, and clear as the viewfinder in my sub-$200, 20 year old, Nikon FM2n?

Put me in the "sort of use it, but why so many frames per second?" camp.

I've just recently upgraded to the Olympus E-3. And for me, 5fps is something I've used once and found too much. 3fps is about right.

The option of 5fps is nice. But I just have so little use for it. 3fps is far more like it for most of what I shoot - it allows me to get good shots of faster moving wildlife, without filling up my memory cards or wasting too much of my time reviewing photos that are almost indistinguishable from each other. I'd rather get 10 good shots from 100 shots total than have to find 20 good shots amongst 500 because of a higher FPS.

Of course, if I made my living from sports photography, that would change. But I don't, and therefore these high frame rates perplex me - they seem more like corporate urination contests than anything I can use.

Incidentally, I heard from an Olympus representative that they chose 5fps as an upper limit on the E-3 because they'd rather give you 5 shots in focus than 10 of which only 5 were in focus. Their goal was just that simple - fast shooting with every shot focused. And in all but bad light, that's exactly what I've seen when testing the E-3.

When you put that up against those fast shooting Pro cameras, which you KNOW will provide plenty of badly focused shots, I think it's exactly the right tack to take. I trust Pentax have a similar goal of "three per second, each one in perfect focus". If not, why bother shooting at 3fps at all?

For me, fast FPS gets used in two ways:
1) 'Frequently, but less-important' for burst-mode bracketing in my everyday, snapshot, memory photography. Bracketing provides the insurance, and a quick FPS merely makes it that much quicker and easier.
2) 'Infrequently, but critical' to capture peak moments in 'chaotic' sequences, such as occur in off-road racing, which I like to (and get to) photograph several times a year.

I think it's a "nice to have" feature, even though it's not really a spec that I consider.

For action/sports, I think the benefit is clear; there's a lot of stuff that can happen and change in fractions of a second. Some are okay trusting their reflexes, but if I was being hired as a sports photographer (for example), I'd want that FPS.

Exposure bracketing is probably the only thing I personally use it for - it's definitely a plus as it helps to minimize ghosting artifacts when merging to HDR.

If you're not doing one of the above though, you tend to wind up with a lot of photos that are nearly identical

Back in the days when using my Canon film cameras, I always had an auto winder on them. I rarely needed speed, but liked having it advance to the next frame quickly.


I'm LEFT EYED, and always had to take the camera from my face to wind the film advance lever. An auto winder allowed me to keep my eye to the viewfinder.

I now have been using my first dSLR for a couple of years, a Nikon D70s.

Why Nikon?

Canon has that big dial right on the center back of their cameras, and for a left eyed person, each adjustment of that command dial is like trying to pick my nose.

Nikons control layout allows me to keep my eye to the viewfinder and work the controls without moving a finger in my own face.

If I were right eyed, I very well might have bought Canon, but that rear command dial was a deal killer for a left eyed man.

The rapidwinder on my M-6 gives the camera a little better balance, but it is sure hard to get any speed on a vertical shot. I can get 1.5 fps on a good day.

Unless you are a sports or paparazzi photographer the FPS thing is just another bigger (fill in the blank) contest.

Although I understand the skepticism for the need for speeds faster than 3 fps for many situations, I personally feel 3 fps is a tad too slow. It's not that I need a full sequence of 5 frames but in certain settings (e.g. the kids' soccer games, groups portraits-especially of a bunch of kids), the extra responsiveness of ~5 fps is appreciated for that one frame when everyone is looking my way or not blinking, etc.

I used both a Canon A2 (5 fps) and an Elan IIe (2.5 or 3 fps, I don't recall exactly) in my film days and the Elan did feel too slow at times.

Now, I don't need 10 fps and not every camera I own has to be fast but I do always have at least one camera that will get me to 5 fps (currently, that's my 20D).

I'm surprised by how many people are perfectly happy to sit back and dismiss other people's wants/needs. I could understand the argument if people were saying, "I don't needs more than 3fps, so I don't want to pay more for the extra fps." But a surprising number of arguments against the want/need for higher FPS come down to "I've been shooting for 30 years, and I've never needed more than 3fps so you don't either, you're just whining."

I like to shoot kids sports. I posted this on another forum and recevied a lot of email back that "I shoot sports too and I get more keepers shooting single frames," "You need to work on your photography skills if you need more than 3FPS," "Buy a C or N and good riddance."

The thing is my "keeper" isn't a single shot. I want the story. I want my son taking the handoff, breaking through the line or turning the corner, stiff-arming the linebacker, diving over the goal line dragging the safety with him, spiking the ball, and getting dog-piled by his teammates. All of that is one keeper. I want my daughter bowing, blocking a strike, delivering a counter-strike, and following up with a footsweep. Again, one keeper.

So what's wrong with wanting that? And what's wrong with wanting that along with top IQ? I'm not bashing the K20D in any way. I think it's an exciting offering. But I'm disappointed, and I understand why others are upset that some needs aren't going to be met.

Behind a lot of amateurs is the unstated wish to be taken for professionals. I don't wear game-worn jerseys, I don't power-tune my car, I don't wear Armani suits. I carry a Domke bag and a pro-level camera and the fastest lens I can afford. It's the adult equivalent of wearing a fireman's hat or a cowboy outfit.

Autofocus. There are a few reasons a camera can't support high FPS. For me, there's no point in high FPS w/o a high percentage being in focus.

So, to some degree, these two issues are one in the same. However, if I were to divide the two, fast autofocus is important, high FPS, not so much.

But it might be fun to play with and might lead me to explore new terrirtory...

One thing that sprang to mind reading some of the stuff on Pentax specs. I approach my camera demands on the basis that I'm only goin to have (afford) a single DSLR. There are many things about the Pentax line that make it attractive for certain kinds of photography, which wouldn't need bursts and high fps. If I thought I could support a second system for those things, Pentax would be way up the list. As it is, I want my equipment to pack as much capability into a single package as possible.

My friend the wedding photographer is certain the 9fps D3 he just bought will never miss that first kiss...it comes back around to the photographer's requirements. I don't often shoot action of any sort, so I didn't worry about burst rates.

For some amusement, listen for the sound of a D3 during press conferences. At 9fps it just sounds like something rattling, or a pencil being stuck in a fan.

Mike, is it possible that technological developments in photography are pushed forward by our insecurities about getting the photo? We worry about missing the definitive moment, so try to compensate by shooting as many frames as possible in a short space of time. We worry about not being able to get close enough to a subject, and therefore desire the longest focal length possible. We worry about composing the image correctly, and thus desire as much resolution as possible to allow for cropping.

I don't think high FPS, superzooms and high megapixel counts are intrinsically bad things, but I think they say something about human psychology.

This is simple. If you really need a high burst rate, you know who you are (sports photographer, perhaps) and you buy a camera that has that feature. Where's the drama?

Most of the people complaining about the "slow" 3fps of the Pentax are not part of the above group, IMO. (That group has long ago switched to Canon or Nikon, if they ever shot Pentax at all). They are part of the dpreview crew that pixel peep, obsess about this and that new feature, post speculative threads about the next camera model (often just a few weeks after the most recent was released), and generally don't take many pictures at all as far as I can tell. They certainly don't post them, and don't seem to have time to take them what with all the posting on dpreview.

Don't get me wrong. I agree with Mike that there's nothing wrong with being interested in the technical aspects of cameras.

But to go from that to claiming that 3fps isn't enough speed is probably just dead wrong for 99.9% of photographers - especially the amateur hobbyists that populate online forums. Apparently the poll results seem to support that conclusion - at least amongst the level-headed folks who frequent TOP :)

What award-winning photograph have you missed because your camera only has 3fps instead of 5fps? Really, I'd like to know.

I never had much need for frame rates until I got into DSLR shooting. In fact, most of my other cameras are still old-fashioned thumb-winders (Mamiya 6, Canonet, Mamiya 645E), not to mention the crank-winding TLR and the much slower 4x5 sheet film and pinhole cameras.

But digital enables a whole different kind of shooting. For the first time, bracketing and bursting is "free". No extra film & processing costs, and no need to reload after burning all 36 exposures on a roll in under a minute.

And that freedom - both financial and creative - enables a lot of fun experimentation with creating Muybridge-style multiple exposures in post, HDR, PhotoAcute resolution merging, and other such techniques. A high framerate is like an amusement park with four brand new rides, and no queues for any of them.

So I'm content with the pokey speed of all my other cameras, but when I buy a DSLR, I do consider the frame rate as part of the overall palette of creative tools it offers.

I wouldn't reject a camera for a 3fps rate, but anything less than that would give me pause - it had better have some other exciting perks if it doesn't have a decent-to-superb burst rate. Otherwise, why am I shooting digital at all? The slower you shoot, the closer to "free" shooting with film becomes.

Let's face it. Most of the "photographers" who worry about this kind of thing are the techno-dweebs who used to argue the merits of D-76 1:1 or straight. Always some technical issue before taking photos.

For me, bursting mode is just for showing off. I use it to stun people by firing that 5 or 8 FPS (it surely sounds sweet). However, on the practical side, I rarely use the continuous mode. I would say I use it 3-4 times each year. I believe in my eyes and fingers, more than the motordrive. Moreover, using motordrive somehow disengages you from the subject; and I find it to give me a "lot" of "crappy" photos, instead of a good few. I have heard this quote a long time ago, which I don't remember the original author:

"I don't use motordrive, because no matter how fast it is, the most critical moment might be in that 1/5 or 1/8 between frames. So, I believe more in my eyes and try to capture that best moment myself."

One reason I love a fast frame rate is for times I'm shooting handheld at slow shutter speeds. I'll snap off three or four or five in a row and later pick the sharp captures. Snap-snap-snap-snap. There's inevitably one that stands out.

I wanted to make the stop-motion sequence photography with those very high frame rates particularly if combined with the "multi-exposure" mode available in Pentax (istD, K10D, K20D?) and Nikon (D200/D300?)dSLRs. Hopefully these would also allow HDR creation in-camera. The Pentax K20D is already starting to merge video capabilities (24fps!). Besides these (visual) images in my mind that I have yet to create - I love to fill my hard drive with crap photos!

As others have mentioned, for me it's about choice. I like to shoot surf photos; a lot can happen on a wave in 1/5 second! My camera shoot at 3 fps now by the way; I'd like to move to 5fps (or faster!) in the future.

I'd agree that knowledge of the sport you're shooting is the biggest factor in getting good shots, but speed comes a close second as it allows you more edit room on a sequence. Five shots to choose from vs. three? I'll take the five, thanks.

I apologize because I was overjoyed to see the stats on the new Canon 1D MKII. I frequently use no 'motor' drive and try hard as an amateur nature photographer to know where my fauna is headed for the next meal or interaction. The landscape and flora rarely change direction and confuse me but if you have ever tried to get a butterfly (sphinx moth=http://www.naturephotographers.net/imagecritique/ic.cgi?a=vp&pr=89519&b=mp&st=0&la=11&ph=3&sid=29899&u=29899) or hummer (http://www.housleyphoto.com/page29/page30/files/page30-1017-full.html) at flowers or a couple of male birds duking it out (see http://www.housleyphoto.com/page29/page29.html) then a fast motor drive is 'essential'. Yeah Im sure the old pros much better than me and working full time with an 4x5 and a 100mm lens could get 20 frames of these birds fighting lasting 3 seconds once in a week but me, I do depend on technology to even get one of a series. Sometimes the first is spot on but not occasionally it's the third or tenth that the animal(s) composes himself correctly for my purposes even despite my planning,positioning and talking it out with the participants.
I'd like to think its not my delicate and shallow psyche and attachment to the technical that sometimes demands a fast burst rather than a commitment to the image but Heh I post what I get.

Similar to what has been echoed above I feel the ability to shoot through human interaction helps me achieve images that truly represent what I am trying to achieve. Recently I went from the Canon 1Dm2 to the 5D and the single hardest part was getting used to 3PS. Image quality is a little better but I lost some spontaneity in the bargain.

I am waiting until I can get higher quality grabs/stills off my camcorder then I won't have to waste time with a regular still cam.

I have a 5D and a 1D. I mostly use the 5D just because the 1D is such a brick of a camera and it's almost embarrassing to take it out in public unless you're doing a real job.

I shoot motorcycle races and weddings (weird combinations I know). There are 2 situations where the 8fps is extremely useful and I think many people here are not really giving enough credit to how useful the fast frame rate can be in these situations:

1) I'm not sure how it is with brands other than Canon, but when you are using servo focus and multishot, the camera will take the first picture regardless of whether or not it has obtained focus, but it will wait for the second picture until the camera has locked on the subject. Very often the 1st picture in a burst is a little out of focus and the next 1-2 are spot on. In most situations, 3fps means if the first shot isn't in focus, that second shot will have missed the action you wanted to capture.

2) I can't tell you how many times I thought I caught the perfect facial expression from someone only to find out afterwards that the person blinked. If you shoot 2-3 frames at 8fps you are almost guaranteed to get the facial expression sans blink in at least one of the frames. Same goes for large group shots where there always seem to be someone blinking in the picture.

That being said, I mostly use my 5D now and rarely needed 8pfs. But I do sometimes miss having the fast burst just so I can get off 3 quick shots when I'm using the 5D.

As a long time motorsports photographer, I spent 20 years shooting manual focus OM-1s, shooting one frame at a time, so that now I still primarily shoot with my 1D MkII that way for *most* of my racing images. But once I started shooting for deadline press, where you HAVE to get the image for the papers that day, having FAST FPS is a big help.....especially if you are literally on the line shooting NHRA Top Fuel...


I occasionally shoot minority sports for my work and very rarely use the continuous shooting mode. I think its because I started out doing this with film and have n't changed with the advent of digital. I'm quite happy with the 3 fps my 5D gives, but its the buffer limitations that most annoys me. However, I'm not prepared to shell out for the Canon 1Ds Mk iii for a function that won't get used much.

To my mind the major thing about shooting long bursts with high fps rates is that the viewfinder would be blacked out so much that you can't continue to watch the subject carefully.

I mostly shoot large format. 3 frames per hour is good going for me... :-)

I personally do not shoot action photography, so perhaps I cannot appreciate the use of having the camera shoot at anything more than 1 frame every 10 seconds.

The thing is, most of the sports/action photographers I've come into contact with do not seem to use the burst-shot function either - I once asked one of them how he did it, and he told me that he anticipated the moment, rather than just fire his shutter away haphazardly with no sense of purpose in the hopes of getting a lucky shot.

Perhaps, it may help some less experienced people get their shot. It may even expand one's horizons with regards to "seizing the moment", but is it a 100%, must-have, will-die-without feature? No, but I'm sure most people would die than admit that.

The K20D offers a lot for the price it's selling for - I think it's only correct for every manufacturer to work on what they do best, and not try to be an all-rounder, one size fits all solution for all consumers. Doing that would only benefit one group - the gearheads, who incidentally spend more time talking and squabbling about cameras and technology than actually shooting. How would concentrating on this group benefit photography as a whole? :)

I encourage everyone to read the New Yorker article by James Surowiecki that Adam Richardson referenced (http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2007/05/28/070528ta_talk_surowiecki). It is really an excellent article, on point and very short.

Thanks Adam!

I love my 4x5...The way it looks. The feel of its controls. The way it smells when I open its case. I even remember the times and places I bought the holders and etched cryptic symbols to record shot numbers. That camera and I have a loving history together which (as long in the tooth as I am) I can never forget.

With my DSLR I can; easily stitch together multiple shots, post correct for rises and falls and swings and tilts. I can do just about everything I used to do with my 4x5.
Only, I have the DSLR with me nearly all the time. I no longer need to be near my car to take a shot. I don't need to spend days waiting for some condition of light and weather to repeat it's self in order to recapture that special moment I may have missed the first time around. So much for the 4x5.

HDR. An extraordinary product of this digital age. Even by making my own emulsions, I could never have matched the depth of present day HDR photography. Martin Doonan, Gordon Buck, Matt Needham, Eric, Jonathan, and CP all mentioned HDR. I'll mention it again because I want to underscore that frame rate can have a significant utility when shooting for a HDR.

Digital photography is, in some ways, a wholly different beast than film. HDR is one of those differences. And, I for one, wouldn't leave home without it.

The James Surowiecki article link doesn't work because of the appended ")."

Here's a working link:



I can't decide whether high FPS is a crutch or a necessity for the kind of photography I do, and I'm waiting on time to tell the story. As an intermediate amateur, it is at least a useful part of the tighter feedback loop that digital allows; it's a lot nicer to learn how to shoot an event based on the frames that came out, rather than by the frames you missed because your camera couldn't keep up with changes. Perhaps at some point I'll be able to see it all line up an shoot one frame, but until then I like the better odds.

Cycling and triathlon are one of my two principal domains; backgrounds, expressions, limbs and other competitors are constantly moving and high FPS gives a better chance a composition will be ideal rather than acceptable.

My other domain is as a volunteer shooter for SPCA foster animals, who (to put it nicely) typically lack posing skills. Not only is a rapid burst of frames sometimes necessary to catch something acceptable between the assistant moving her hand away from the critter's back and his losing interest, sometimes the noise itself piques enough curiosity so that he perks up and stays put for that much longer.

My ME Super had a winder, it made it look cool and it was nice to hold but I think I used it on "continuous" only once. My main camera until 2000 was a K1000, no motors here. I have used burst mode on my *ist digital SLRs maybe twice. If I were a serious sports shooter I may use this feature but since I am not...

The K20D (or indeed, for me the more familiar interface of the K200D) represents a real upgrade from my *istDL and DS, and burst speed is not a criteria I am concerned with.


When I was a journalism student and became interested in photography and cameras, my father (that was a photographer for some time) often told me (in other words) that Cartier-Bresson, for example, made some amazing photographs without a 73-zone evaluative multi-segmented metering matrix, 93 star-type auto-focus sensors, or 13 fps drives :-) Neither did Robert Capa nor Minor White.

I do understand that some people do hold metering aids, autofocusing aids and fast capture rates as true needs in order to make certain kinds of photos, as argued on some posts here. And to some extent I can't find grounds to disagree.

But also I can't help wondering if such aids have made photography any better or different when compared to the photos made when such aids weren't available. How was sports photography before autofocusing? Was it so limited that today we see photos that weren't possible then.

I really don't know and keep on wondering.

While I'm not a professional photographer (and am not pressed by deadlines), I do think that technological aids do make us lazy to some extent. We rely on autofocusing, autometering and drives to make photos that, in other times would demand knowledge and practice.

Knowledge of a game's timing and intricacies. Patience and technique to press the shutter button at the right moment.

Maybe our constant lack of time and patience is also to blame.

My first SLR was a manual focus Pentax MZ-M. Not having much money to waste film, I practiced a lot with framing and focus, without actually pressing the shutter.

When I bought my K10D (my second SLR), I just wasn't used to the autofocusing aids enough to trust them. I did try using autofocus and still use it sometimes. But I really prefer focusing manually.

Such preference got a real incentive after reading on Zeiss' site about how accurate focus is necessary to make full use of their lenses optical qualities.


Having a Pentax FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited, I really wanted to nail focus. I also felt that manual focus gave me more control. But I still felt I needed more practice. (By the way, Godfrey DiGiorgi posted his method of practicing manual focusing on the Pentax SLR forum on DPReview: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=23482205)

At the end, what I do feel I need more is to master focusing (I'll probably buy a third-party focusing screen) and really understand exposure. I also do feel that such need of mastering several technical aspects, developing the skills required to read the lighting of a scene and ultimately understanding all the technical details necessary to master photography is what makes it somewhat daunting, associated with lack of time. I personally find it difficult to find reliable and quality information sources which can enlighten me in such a quest.

Then, instead of practicing to develop the necessary skills, we ask for more fps, better metering algorithms, faster predictive autofocus.

Choosing Pentax now makes even more sense to me — while I try or wish to develop these photographic skills, and leave to Pentax the development of better image quality (sensors with less noise, more sensitivity, more dynamic range, image quality, etc) and more responsiveness to my command.

Notwithstanding, some technical developments do allow photos that otherwise would not be possible, such as in-body shake reduction and low-noise high-ISO. But I still wonder if photography has changed so much.


PS: And if high frame rates are really necessary, I'm sure the new 60fps Casio EXILIM Pro EX-F1 is the way to go (http://www.exilim.com/intl/ex_f1/). With the shutter button half-pressed, the camera continually saves images to the buffer at 60 fps. So after you fully depress the shutter you can choose from several photos, including the ones stored just before and just after the shutter button was pressed. It's really impressive.

Mike, do you intend to write about the Casio Exilim EX-F1 (60fps)?

I'm up to 2 or 3 negatives an hour with my 4 x 5 field camera and often have to tell myself to slow down and enjoy myself.

Recently, I spent and hour and a half waiting for the light to break through a clearing snowstorm in front of the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vt. The sun never broke through, but during that time, I met a nice English women with an impudent son, other nice folks who were walking by taking digi snaps with their point and shoots, and pretty much caused a minor accident when I absent mindedly stepped off the curb to get a better view of the snow covered town square. A seasoned Vermonter jumped on the brakes and a not so observant Connecticat ran into the back of said Vermonter. I waved meekly and wandered back to my 4 x 5 with finished my paper cup of strong coffee. It was a wonderful afternoon and one of my more pleasant photographic memories. I guess that sometimes, there is more to photography than photographs.

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