On most cameras todays self-timer is a great option that you need to know.  Most of us think of self-timer as a way to get in the picture with our friends.  There are other uses to it however.  I thought that I should share this with you.

How does Self Timer work?

In your menu or option you can enable it for duration of 2, 3, 5 or usually 10 seconds.  You press the shutter, the camera wait for the chosen duration before taking the picture.

When and how to use Self Timer?

  • Replacing a cable release or remote control;

For a self-portrait this is an option as you know.  However if you don’t have a tripod you can place the camera in position and use the self-timer like you would a cable release.  This way you will avoid camera shake.  Camera shake is often caused by your finger pushing the shutter button.

This is particularly useful for longer shutter speed in the range of 1/8 to 4 seconds.

  • Enabling mirror lock up;
Self Timer combined with Mirror Lock-up

Preventing vibration when shooting at slow shutter speed using Selft Timer and Mirror lock-up

In some situation, keeping the camera steady is critical.  The slightest movement could ruin the shot.  Most cameras have moving parts and the mirror moving up and down could have an impact on the picture.  By enabling mirror lock up and the self-timer, you mirror move up at the start of the delay, the picture is then taken and the mirror move back in position.  The vibration caused by the mirror moving up does not interfere with picture-taking.  The 2 second duration is enough to help from mirror lock up.

  • With auto bracketing for HDR.

When using automatic bracketing your camera will fire 3, 5 or even 7 pictures in a row.  Making sure the camera stay still is important.  This avoids problems with the resulting HDR process.

Using bracketing with the self-timer solves multiple problems:

  • Eliminate camera shake;
  • All pictures occur in a single, rapid fire, sequence;
  • It is less likely that movement in the scene will interfere with the HDR rendition later one.

Makes sure you know how to enable the self-timer on your camera.  When you will need it, fiddling with the manual is not an option.  The included picture is the result of self-timer, bracketing and HDR.