In the article below I have a short summary of the drive modes on most cameras, their uses etc.

Single shot

Only one image is taken. To take another you must first release the shutter button and press it down again to ensure that you do not accidentally take more than one image. This drive mode is perfect for landscapes or static subjects such as flowers. It can also be used for that lightbulb moment when the animal looks straight at the camera, or that perfect moment when the dog passes through the frame in the perfect pace, etc.

Continuous shooting/ High speed burst

This is measured in fps (frames per second). A sequence of images is taken at high speed, especially in scenes that are hard to predict, such as a dog chasing a stick. The fps can usually be changed. A slower fps allows the action to be caught every step of the way while a slower speed has the camera at the ready for the perfect moment, but avoids an overflow of images.


Automatic exposure bracketing; the camera takes three pictures, one with a exposure compensation of +-0, one with +1/3, or +1, or similar, and the last with -1/3 or -1 , or similar. Often used in difficult lighting conditions.

Self timer

This is not strictly a drive mode, but it is still an important aspect to understand. As the name suggests, it can be used for self portraits, etc. The instant the shutter button is pressed, a timer is started. It can either be 2 seconds, 10 seconds or custom timer. You can usually also set the amount of frames that are taken.

2 seconds is too short for anything much, 10 seconds is enough time to get yourself in the shot, but if using  custom timer, forget the twenty seconds, it’s too long, and your models will start to get bored.


The drive modes can be located in the menu, or you may also have dedicated buttons on the camera body.