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  • Writer's pictureMark Heathcote

Chimping - When to chimp, when not to chimp

Chimping drives me mad. I see amateur photographers constantly check their LCD every time they take a shot. I even see many pro photographers doing it too. I suppose it is human nature to receive instant gratification but there are many reasons not to do this, and one reason to do it occasionally. Here we go..

Reasons not to chimp

Chimping is when a photographer keeps checking their LCD to review the shot they have just taken. The first obvious reason not to chimp is that it drains your battery. If you are striving to be a great photographer then you will likely be walking the streets for hours. There is nothing more annoying than your battery dying mid shoot. Personally I like to squeeze every possible frame out of my battery. If I chimped after every shot then I would only get half as many frames. This battery maximisation is particularly important to me since I turn sleep mode to its longest setting. The reason for this (even though it clearly reduces my battery life) is that it is important to me that the camera responds immediately when I press the shutter.  That half second delay when a camera wakes up will sometimes mean missing a shot.

Reason number two: From what I have seen, people spend two or three seconds taking a shot, and then about 5 seconds reviewing it on screen. Why not use that 5 seconds to work the subject and take multiple frames. You cannot really tell a great deal from the LCD anyway. Shots I have looked at and thought were amazing turn out to not work once I see them full size. The problem is, because I was pleased with what I saw on the LCD, I stopped taking additional frames.

If you simply refrain from chimping you will not only get better shots, you will also get a nice surprise when you review them later (like opening a Christmas present). Of course, most frames will be rubbish anyway (a bit like Christmas presents) but at least you have increased your chances.

A picture that has nothing to do with the article
A picture that has nothing to do with the article

Reason number three: It irritates me. I don't like seeing people doing it, so please stop. I put it in the same bracket as someone with a big expensive SLR, with massive lens walking around with the flash popping up in broad daylight.

There is only one valid reason to chimp.

Yes, I am grumpy about this, sorry; but there is a very valid reason to chimp from time to time (perhaps once every hour). I tend to shoot manual when it is a sunny day. I do this because I can set the camera up to expose correctly for the light, and then I don't need to worry about the camera automatically compensating for shadows or highlights when I don't want it to (I pretty much use the Sunny 16 rule - see here and here). The only problem with this is that occasionally I might knock my aperture ring off F8 or the light may start to fade towards the end of the day. So, I chimp maybe once an hour, but, I am only chimping to check my exposure on the histogram, I am not actually chimping to look at the image.

So, the moral of this story is to make me a happier photographer by not chimping (at least in front of me) and turn off your auto flash popup. Become a better photographer by trusting your instincts; resist the temptation to look at your LCD. Most of all, have fun.


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