If you have been experimenting with digital photography, you may be wondering why does a digital camera delay when taking pictures. Even the best digital cameras can run into this issue from time to time. Let’s try to sort it all out.


  • Digital camera delay, otherwise known as shutter lag, tends to happen when the autofocus functionality becomes sluggish.
  • Avoid sluggish autofocus by shooting in well-lit areas, avoiding moving subjects, or switching to manual focus.
  • Older cameras also typically feature slower-than-average shutter speeds or a broken shutter button. Invest in a new model to avoid these issues.

What is Digital Camera Delay?

What is a digital camera and what is delay? Generally speaking, digital camera delay is when there is a brief moment of time after snapping a photo before the camera registers and actually takes the photo. This is also known as shutter lag. This can make it difficult to line up shots, especially if you are photographing a moving target.

Insider Tip

Using a camera’s timer delay function can help you set up a shot without having to rely on the shutter button at all.

What Causes Digital Camera Delay and Shutter Lag?

There are a variety of causes of shutter lag. Here are a few common causes and how to start the troubleshooting process.

Slow Autofocus Mode

One of the primary causes of camera delay or lag is a slower-than-average autofocus mode. This tends to happen when you have autofocus engaged while attempting to capture action shots of a fast-moving subject or when you are trying to take photos in a lowly lit area. Avoid low-light photos and night mode photos by moving to a brightly lit area or by disengaging autofocus entirely, relying instead on manual focus. Manual focus will take a bit of practice to get used to, but using it will completely eliminate any lag that is caused by sluggish autofocus.

Poor Positioning

If you are photographing a moving subject, try to get in front of it as it moves towards you instead of attempting to take a shot as it runs past you. This could speed up the shutter button a bit.

Lens Issues

If your lens is damaged or scratched, your camera may get caught attempting to focus when no true focus is available, due to the aforementioned damage. Do some research on digital camera lens repair and take the necessary maintenance and repair steps.

Some Cameras are Just Slow

There is no way around it. Some cameras just have slow shutter speeds. This can especially be said of older models and certainly older phones with older integrated cameras. We recommend investing in a modern DSLR or mirrorless digital camera that advertises a fast shutter speed. Additionally, you could have the timer option engaged on the rear cameras on a smartphone or the front cameras. This simple feature institutes a 3-second timer or a 10-second timer before snapping a photo.


How you can improve your photos with an iPhone camera timer?

Using a camera means you won’t have to rely on the shutter button, giving you plenty of time to get a good shot as the shutter button means you’ll have to physically be holding the camera.

Why do iPhone cameras load slowly?

An iPhone camera, and an Apple Watch camera, loads slowly because these gadgets are typically filled to the brim with software.

How do I set the camera delay timer to take a photo on my Samsung Galaxy camera?

Open the camera application and select the delay. The camera will count down before snapping a photo.

STAT: Steven Sasson, an engineer at Eastman Kodak, invented and built a self-contained electronic camera that used a charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor in 1975. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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