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Saturday, 06 August 2022


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Xander is 29? I have been reading you a long time.
Family is important I hope the reconciliation progresses.

[Thanks Kevn. I have a good feeling about it. --Mike]

In terms of response time, the one thing that kept tripping me up when I transitioned to mirrorless is the fact that an idle camera goes to "sleep" if not used for some unit of time. I could have my (D)SLR hang passively over my shoulder for hours, swing it up and grab a shot anytime without delay. But I have been frustrated by the number of times that I lift the mirrorless to my eye only to see... nothing. Now I have burned into my subconscious mind to tap the shutter release every 90 seconds or so, listening for the audible "beep" to keep the camera awake.

Other than that, I feel my Fujifilm cameras are just as fast as any autofocus camera that I have used, going back to my Nikon N8008s. Never felt that I missed any shots due to delayed action from hitting the shutter.

[Yes, I agree, I was never aware of any frustrations with either of my Fuji cameras. --Mike]

Glad you got to experience the Aquarium in my hometown, Baltimore. There are a lot of other places worth visiting on future trips if you’re back in town, far different than viewers of The Wire might imagine. The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) is but one; on par with some of the terrific museums I frequent in your (and my) former stomping ground in DC.

Albert, you can disable the time-out on Fuji cameras. Menu > wrench icon > auto power off. You can set it in increments up to 5 minutes or to off. In the same menu is found the performance selection, which should always be set to 'boost' (or 'high performance') if you don't want any delay. With these settings my X-T3 and X-E3 are very fast indeed. It is also possible to set the release/focus priority to 'release', although I have never found this necessary. I believe that these settings are available on all the Fujis.

Don‘t unlock the iPhone to take a picture. Use the „camera button“ (low right corner on the lock screen) or swipe from right to left (without swiping up or down ;-) — it‘s not always faster, but more consistent to get to the camera.

On changing a camera setting and not getting back: years ago it was the dentist, who didn‘t master his expensive camera and couldn‘t operate it correctly, now it‘s us ;-)

I don't feel like any modern DSLR/mirrorless camera that I've used since the D70 has had any significant issues in the "time to turn on camera and take a picture" race. Here is what I've used since around 2003: D70, D200, D700, Olympus E-M5, Olympus E-M1, Nikon Z6.

It's possible that I'm just not that picky about this.

I tend to turn them off rather than letting them "sleep" because their behavior and performance is more predictable that way. For some reason the "time to wake up from sleep and take a picture" has much more variance ... if I'm actively taking pictures then I try not to let the thing fall asleep until I'm done.

I sort of agree about the FaceID phones. TouchID was mostly better. Alas.

Regarding your camera, it might be worth a careful read of the manual to see if you can take charge of the sleep function. I've never used a Sony, but it seems like something you should be able to control, most likely at the expense of battery life.

Response time is one of the reasons (somewhere below "I'm poor" on the list) why I'm still using an almost 15-year-old DSLR.

I bought Upstraps when Michael Reichmann mentioned them, probably close to 20 years ago. I have had a least a score of them since then. I don’t use or need any other strap.

That sounds like an encounter (your son and his mum) of enormous significance, very stressful for you - and them too. Very glad it went well. Very best wishes to all concerned. More important than photography actually.

I’m surprised you are finding the A6600 slow. I use a A6400 which I would expect to be very similar, though perhaps a little slower as it is cheaper.

I usually carry it in my hand, balanced on my finger tips and secured with a wrist strap, and often turned off. When I see something I want to photograph I can flick the power switch on as I bring it up to my eye, and by the time I am looking through the viewfinder it is fully on and functional, and it focusses almost as fast as I can press the shutter release.

It is about ten years since I have used a DSLR, but my recollection is that it was no faster from standby, and slower from power off state.

Mike, I have expressed this to you before, but I will say it again, the respect I have for you as a father (and as a human) is immense. I am happy Xander and his mother have met. It is important on many levels, not just emotional.

Family reunions are something I never had growing up. But I did get to meet my father after an eleven year absence when I was seventeen. Here is a quick story about my first and my final family reunion.

There are four girls/sisters in my family, basically a year apart and all names begin with "D". One day my older sister (I am #3), ask me to drive her to the store, so I did. Once we got near the store, she asked me if I wanted to meet our father. "What?" I yelled! "Just turn into that hotel, and I'll take you to him," she said.

I was very excited when I knocked on his hotel room door, he answered with a huge smile and called me by sister #2's name. That's okay, as I am known to be a laid-back, easy going and a forgiving soul. I mean, come on, I can actually say the word, "Daddy!"

He noticed I was no longer writing with my left hand when I wrote his address down so at least he did remember something about me. My sisters and I got to spend a few days visiting with him and wife #4 before they flew back to the northwest, promising he would stay in touch, but he never did.

Twelve years passed before another reunion, which turned out to be our final family reunion. This time he flew down to California after sister #1's search for him finally snagged him. Now he was in a wheelchair and looked like an old man. During this final family reunion, I had to comfort my mother greatly. She was insecure she was going to lose "her girls" to the man that walked out on everyone and his responsibilities. I understood her grief as I was a new mother with an overprotective husband that did not care for my father at all. I comforted my mother and told her my sisters were probably going through a honeymoon period, believing their father was here to stay, but it would eventually wear off as reality sunk back in.

We learned our father had suffered a stroke and the prognosis was not very good, and he lived another two years and then passed. My step mother asked me to write the eulogy. Probably because I was the only daughter that showed him kindness and respect until the end. You see, after my sisters had time to think about what he did to our mother and us (his children), they were not interested in keeping up a relationship with him.

I felt sorry for my father because I realized in the end, he could not take care of himself, let alone a wife and children. I summed him up as not having enough courage and accepted it. My father was college educated and came from an upper middle class family, but you would never guess that by learning the life he lived, although he spoke like a philosopher and corrected my speech whenever he could. He raced cars, jumped out of airplanes for fun, and even my husband knew about him from the small airport they both flew out of before we ever met. My father left behind a daredevil legacy, but he missed taking his daughters down the aisle which bothered him, and I could never understand why.

Best to you, and to Xander, and to his mother. It may not be an easy journey up ahead, but I know one thing is for sure; Xander will be better off for it, and so will you!

Welcome to grandparenthood! Nothing screams success like a grandchild exclaiming “But Grandpa let’s me (insert forbidden activity here)”.

I know, I know, you want your cameras simple - but they are not, including the A6600.

From the manual, in menu settings below first camera image:
Priority Set in AF-S

Sets whether to release the shutter even if the subject is not in focus when [Focus Mode] is set to [Single-shot AF], [DMF] or [Automatic AF] and the subject is remaining still.

MENU → (Camera Settings1) → [Priority Set in AF-S] → desired setting.

Menu item details

Prioritizes focusing. The shutter will not be released until the subject is in focus.

Prioritizes the shutter's release. The shutter will be released even if the subject is out of focus.

Balanced Emphasis:
Shoots with a balanced emphasis on both focusing and shutter release.


Default is Door #3, Balanced Emphasis. If you are really happy with zone focus, change it to Door #2.

On a mirrorless camera, the mechanical shutter has to close, then open again to take an exposure. Using the electronic first curtain function eliminates that delay.
e-Front Curtain Shutter

The electronic front curtain shutter function shortens the time lag between when the shutter button is pressed and the shutter is released.

MENU → (Camera Settings2) → [e-Front Curtain Shutter] → desired setting.

Menu item details

Uses the electronic front curtain shutter function.
Does not use the electronic front curtain shutter function.

There are a couple of caveats, RTFM.
It's also possible to speed up AF, in a sorta like zone focus way, by limiting the AF focal range:

By limiting the types of available focus area settings in advance, you can more quickly select settings for [Focus Area].

MENU → (Camera Settings1) → [Focus Area Limit] → Add check marks to the focus areas that you want to use, and then select [OK].
The types of focus areas marked with will be available as settings.


When you assign [Switch Focus Area] to a desired key by selecting MENU → (Camera Settings2) → [Custom Key] or [Custom Key], the focus area changes every time you press the assigned key. By limiting the types of selectable focus areas with [Focus Area Limit] in advance, you can more quickly select the focus area setting you want.

If you assign [Switch Focus Area] to a custom key, it is recommended that you limit the types of focus areas with [Focus Area Limit].

My first DSLR, Canon 300D, was slow to start up, still slow, but less so, to wake up. I simply trained myself to tap the shutter button as I grabbed the camera to raise it to my eye.

Fully awake by the time I was looking through the VF, shutter delay wasn't a problem, for me.
My OM-1 is awake, ready to go and takes a picture as quick as I can turn on the switch and press the button. That includes AF. There must be a delay in there, but nothing as slow as my fingers.

Sony A7C, has a small, but noticeable, delay 'tween on switch, press shutter and actual exposure, even using Door #2. That's with a manual lens, so no AF delay.

This brings back memories of the Deardorff 8x10 … see an image - set up the tripod - attach & unfold camera - attach lens - unfold dark cloth - etc, etc. Makes the iPhone seem quick . . .

www.imaging-resource.com has the responsiveness data for every review. Incredibly thorough.

I can relate to this: I've been complaining about this issue for some time now with digital cameras. For me, as a so-called "street photographer", the camera being ready at any given moment is of utmost importance, yet this idea is pooh-poohed by the general digital photography community as most people simply don't shoot that way; they see photography as something set up and planned for the most part. DPreview even stopped including startup/wakeup times in their reviews, and when I asked about this, they replied, rather smugly, that "this simply isn't an issue any more."

Back when I was using a Sony A7r, it was maddeningly frustrating in this regard, waking up only after over two seconds and with severe shutter lag, resulting in many missed shots. I've since switched to a Leica Q that wakes up much more quickly, and it is one reason I like the Q much better than the Sony, even if the Sony's sensor was more capable. In fact I was at first so used to anticipating the shutter lag on the Sony that, when I began to use the Q, I would actually tend to get the moment _before_ the one I really wanted.

So yes, please preach this aspect. It's another reason I only use my iPhone for shots that are static (or if I want a really wide angle); it just takes too long to get it ready to shoot, whereas the Q is always ready.

Congratulations to Xander, Kate and you. You are about to find out how wonderful it is to be a grandparent.

I use a similar technique as Jim Arthur.
Back button focus - i.e. the camera focuses when I tell it too and what I tell it too focus on. Since the camera is already in focus before the shot, the "lag" is minimized.
Just like the old days with my full mechanical match LED SLR's. Focus, check the exposure settings push the button at "the moment".

The only thing I do that is different from the old days is hit the shutter button to keep the electronics on (three minute timeout). With my Pentax K-3II, I have to keep it "alive" to keep the GPS locked.

If your camera does not support back button focus. Buy something that does.

Mike wrote, " ... the new iPhone is definitely worse than older ones. The auto-turn-on feature is a pain—I'm going to turn auto-turn-on off if it turns off—and the swipe commands are too many and too touchy to be convenient, although I suppose a few adroit young people will have them mastered."

I won't tell you how to set up your phone because I don't know how (I am neither young nor adroit) ... but ... startup for mine from sitting quietly beside me at the dining room table is:

o tap the screen
o swipe up
o swipe up
o tap the camera icon

The camera is on and ready for action.

If it's been off for a while, it may take a second to recognize your face. If it hasn't been off for a while, it may start with the camera on.

Yes Ibought an Upstrap once but it didn't solve my problem. I have no shoulders. I now keep my camera dangling on a wrist strap and keep it turned on. As long as I carry a spare battery I'm good to go

You may already know this, but on the iPhone in: Settings/Camera there is a setting called: Preserve Settings and you can use this for several features to preserve or reset settings. This is definitely worth experimenting around with, I find it very useful.

I've had to learn to half-press the shutter button as I raise the camera to my eye with mirrorless; for my various Olympus bodies that wakes it up by the time it gets up to my eye. But frequently shot opportunities come in groups, so it's also fairly common that I've got the camera in my hands active when I see the next opportunity. And you have some choice of how long before it goes to sleep in the menus (depending on body). Battery life tradeoff of course, but I tend to start the day with 2 and a fraction fully charged batteries.

That, my friend, is the modern photographic way: things constantly improve without getting any better.

I think back to the days of the Nikon F and F2, the various iterations of the Hasselblad 500 Series and the excellent, reliable Rolleiflex tlr cameras, and how they just kept on working, year after year, never a complaint to be heard from any of them, and I thank my lucky stars that I was able to earn my living without fear of any camera electronics failures other than those occasional glitches with synch. cables on the Nikons.

A few spare batteries for the motor drives and a few more for the Minolta Flashmeter (the Westons and Invercones never needed anything at all, thank goodness), and we were all ready to go.

I hate to rub it in, well, not really, but those truly were the golden days of photography.

Apropos of nothing much: I was looking at somebody’s website earlier today, and his street pictures in particular. The chap is a Leica fan, and also a “workshops” addict, and it shows: the images are supposedly street, but unfortunately, they are so studied, crisp, “properly” exposed and even, apparently, filled-in with reflectors etc. that they have ended up looking like images from a poorly-cast commercial shoot. How can folks do this - have they no points of reference, no idea about mood and the value of a little reality in their street pix, that an exercise in technical brilliance and ultra sharpness it never was? It’s my belief that digital is ruining the genre by simply being too informative. Never mind trying a little tenderness, how about a few helpings of grit and ambiguity?

Love Al Stegmeyer's kevlar UPstraps that I've been using for about the past couple of decades. Even figured out how to salvage their special clips to convert the UPstraps to attach to my heavy Hasselblads.

I'm paranoid about leather camera straps after a favorite Leica strap that I'd been using for years got too old, snapped the dried-out leather and dropped my EL Nikkormat on the pavement. (A total surprise and quite a shock!) I know that you're not supposed to discuss politics, religion, or the necessity of UV filters in polite company, but fortunately my camera was saved by the edge of my filter hitting the ground first. The filter was destroyed with broken glass and bent edge, but the Nikkor lens was fine, as was the camera body.

Kevlar may be overkill [sorry] for camera straps, but selecting only UPstrap configurations with a single end-to-end web of kevlar (with no detachable connections), sure gives confidence that there is nothing that could fail and drop the camera with a fancy apochromatic lens that now costs more than my first automobile.

Kevlar UPstraps which always were scarcer stock, seem to be mostly relegated to history, and about the nylon ones which are almost as good (but apparently can fray more easily around a sharp edge), very sorry to read that due to inflation, "This is the last batch of UPstaps."

Hi Mike,

My tips for most responsive a6600.

-Go to (Camera Settings 2) > FINDER/MONITOR, leave on Auto. (You could set it to Manual (viewfinder) and see if it is faster, but IME Auto is actually blindingly quick and not the reason for your slow response experience.)

-Use DISP button on back of camera to set the rear monitor to blank*. It will still work for menu and playback functions, but won’t show live view through the lens. (* if blank option does not appear for you, it needs to be turned on via (Camera Settings2) > [DISP Button] > [Monitor], make sure the box next to “No Disp. Info.” is ticked.)

-Go to (Setup) > [Power Save Start Time], and set to 30 minutes.

-Go to (Setup) > [Display Quality], set display quality to standard. Uses less power.

-Leave the camera powered on when in hand or out of bag. Trust the big battery! With the rear monitor blank, it won’t deplete fast.

-Naturally, when you take the camera out of the bag, turn it on instantly as soon as your fingers wrap around the grip. Then leave it on until it returns to bag.

Good luck!

i second imaging-resource - they have used a consistent methodology for measuring responsiveness over a long period and a lot of cameras, so comparisons can be done

I needed once to explain back-button focus to a friend of mine, who couldn't understand my annoyance with a DSLR insisting on locking focus before it would deign to take the picture (never mind a camera which needs to be awakened from a nap). He happens to be a NRA instructor. I said, "Ken, it's like a weapon. When I pull the trigger, I want it to fire." Immediate understanding.

I don’t understand why you find the iPhone slow! When I pick it up/take out of pocket it’s already waiting for input and swiping right to left opens the camera.

I used to think the shutter lag on a Leica M camera was amazing until I triggered the leaf shutter on Rolleiflex TLRs and the Hasseblad SWC.


That was some kind of get-together. Xander meets his mother for the first time and you get to meet Xander's girlfriend -- and she's already pregnant! Seems like you should schedule more frequent meetings! :>)

Sorry to hear about the lag with the Sony camera.

I seem to remember that Modern Photography would include shutter release lag in their reviews. I think the Pentax Super Program was one of the quickest at ~87 msec. Of course, nothing semi-affordable would beat the Leica rangefinder.

My Pentax K1 II is pretty quick to wake up. Just a short electronic sound and it's ready for action. Probably not more than 1/4 second.

I can't see using an iPhone as a camera. Those things are so touchy -- I can't keep it from passing my intended target and into a different menu or app. I've only handled an iPhone when someone asks me to take a photo of them, so maybe I'd eventually get used to it. I much prefer the tactile feedback of an actual shutter button on a DSLR.

Interesting article. Thanks for writing it!

I just leave the A6600 on. It goes into a sleep mode after about a minute, but immediately wakes up when I halfway depress the shutter button. The battery is robust, so I don't worry about it running out of juice.

I checked my A6000 and yes, it was very slow. Very, very slow. So slow that seconds seemed to pass. So I took it off the self timer setting and tried again. It's actually quite quick in single shot mode... : ]

It is curious that you mention the ultimate in responsive cameras as being a Leica M film body -- and then suggest a favourite strap is that particular one. It looks like a direct copy of the Leica M strap design!! Something subliminal perhaps? Keep up the good work :o)

May I say the photograph is not as important as he has met his mother ... Even if there is no photo. Life ...

Yes, the modern Leica camera straps (Leica Carrying Black Fiber Neck Strap with 1" Tapered Rubber Anti-Slip Pad for R & M Series Cameras 14312) are like small UPstraps, and that's exactly what I now use on smaller film bodies, like the Nikon F, F2, F3, FA, El Nikkormat, etc.

But to avoid tragedy, be very careful when installing the those Leica straps (if the connections to the camera are mistakenly left unlocked):

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