The shutter lag refers to the duration that you have to wait from the time that the shutter button is hold down until when the photos are actually recorded. Although commonly, the lag time is under one second, it is still enough to get you miss a spontaneous image when the subject is out of the frame.
You often encounter significant shutter lag with solid cameras, especially low-priced ones. For more advanced DSLR cameras, the problem is much less, but sometimes, it is still noticeable (some small traces of lag time).
There are three different types of the lag, which cause certain problems in slow models.
1. The lag with the autofocus. This is defined as the duration from the time that you hold down the shutter button halfway to the time that an automatic focus lock is found. Clearly, some external factors may affect the autofocus lag, for example, when you capture a moving or still subject.
2. The lag with the shutter release. This is defined as the duration from the time that you hold down the shutter button completely – from the moment that a shutter button is already half-pressed – to the time that an image is captured. Or you can understand it as the duration that you have to wait before capturing an image that has been pre-focused.
3. The total lag. This refers to the duration from the time you completely hold down the shutter button – not calculating any pre-focusing with half-holding down – to the moment that an image is actually recorded. This lag is just really significant when you shoot a quick snapshot, as you don’t have the time to hold down the shutter button halfway to have the photo pre-focused.
You’ll need to have certain practice to be able to reduce the impacts of the shutter lag. Advanced cameras that have interchangeable lens are usually easier to handle the shutter lag problem than low-priced point and shoot models. The good lighting conditions will help lower the impacts of shutter lag. If the shooting subject is moving, it is better to shoot when it moves more closely toward your location than when it moves over the camera’s range of vision. The pre-focusing as mentioned before will be useful in which you hold down the shutter button halfway. Lastly, if the manual control and manual focus options are available with your camera, you may use it to lower the lag effects.