Frames per Second - What's it?
Basic Photography
Amit Kumar Srivastava
November 18, 2016

FPS or frames per second is a standard photography and videography term used to define the frequency at which the camera displays successive images, also referred to as frames. Before I traverse deeper into this, please make sure you are not getting confused between frames per second and shutter speed. The shutter speed of a camera is used to define the time frame for which each image will be exposed. For example, I am shooting at 24fps at a shutter speed of 1/100 sec. This means that I have set up my camera in such a way, that it will display 24 consecutive images in a second. On the contrary, the shutter speed of 1/100 sec will determine that each of the 24 frames will be exposed for 1/100 of a second.

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Ideal Frame rates: There are no ideal frame rates. Frame rate will depend on the video or the photograph you are looking forward to shoot. For shooting a video, 24fps, 25fps or even 30fps remain the most standard rates. I shoot my short films at 24fps. This means you will have 24 images or frames shot in a period of 1 second.  However, if you are looking to do a sport broadcast, then you will have to increase the frame rate to about 300fps.  There are extremely high speed cameras too, which can shoot at 2500 fps, generally required to shoot explosions etc. The worldwide standard for movies currently is 24fps. Normally fps is a term associated with videos. However, this is applicable in photography too.

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How fast and continuous can my camera be?

As I already mentioned there are extremely high speed cameras shooting at 2500 fps. Moving over from videos to photography, you will find a continuous photography mode or the burst mode in most cameras. This generally tends to produce a sequence of images. Now you will have to pay attention to the fact that a camera shooting a video at 24fps will not be able to generate that much speed during photography. The speed usually comes down to 3-7 fps because while capturing photos, each image will be processed with the actual image sensor resolution. In videos, the camera is only capturing images at perhaps 1-2 megapixels. This will also depend on several factors ranging from memory cards, camera’s buffer memory and the speed of the camera’s shutter recoiling. For example you are trying to click photographs at 5 fps but you have a slow memory put in place. This will be a major bottleneck. In the burst mode, the camera initially writes to its internal memory called buffer before transferring them to the memory card. If this process itself is slow, it will obviously affect your frame rate. So I will recommend using a fast memory card before trying to really go for the burst mode.

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Use the memory card with the latest technology, any dslr and try to shoot in the burst mode. The sequence generated often looks fabulous!

Basic Photography
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Amit Kumar Srivastava
Founder, Pixean Entrepreneur, passionate photographer
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