Why Do We Still Have Bulb Mode on Our Cameras?
Greeting from a train somewhere in the countryside between Bergen, Norway, and Oslo. We’re close to wrapping up 9-days vacation here (with my wife and daughter), and we’ve been having just a wonderful time (our first time here in Norway — incredibly beautiful place!).
As you might imagine, we’re taking lots of photos (and Kalebra is shooting absolutely lights-out with her iPhone — check out her images on her Instagram account. She somehow managed to take control of all the seagulls in Norway, and they fly into position on her command. It’s eerie to see in person, but it makes for a great photo). ;-)
Anyway, with all this water I wound up pulling out my 10-stop ND filter quite a bit (though not as much as I should have), but it got me to wondering — why, after all this time, do we still have “Bulb Mode?” (The mode where you can keep your shutter open as long as you want by holding down the shutter button).
On my Canon 5D Mark IV, normally the maximum my shutter can stay open is 30-seconds
…unless until I switch to bulb mode, and then I can leave it open all day long (well, for as long as I hold the shutter button down, or in my case, as long as I leave the button on my cable release locked). Since the main reason, you need bulb mode is for long exposures, why not just let us automatically be in an optional type of bulb mode once I choose an exposure beyond 30-seconds?
For example, yesterday I was doing a series of 2-min, 20-second long exposures. Why can’t I just set my shutter speed to 2:20 seconds? Why do we need to change modes? Beyond that, why don’t they just do away with us having to have a cable release in the first place — why not have an option to turn on so if you go beyond a 30-second exposure, pressing the shutter button waits for 5-seconds before opening the shutter to let any vibration from pressing the shutter dissipate. That does away with Bulb mode and the need for a cable release all in one.
Now, there may already be some cameras out there that already have this exact feature (I don’t think it’s a Canon or Nikon, maybe an Olympus or Pentax), but this seems like one of those, “that’s the way we’ve always done it…’ type of things that have kept the “big boys” from doing, but perhaps there’s some technical reason why we need to have a separate bulb mode for long exposures that I don’t know, and if there is, I’m hoping somebody here will let me know.
Anyway, this is the kind of thing you think of when you’re standing on the rocks shooting a long exposure waiting patiently for 2-minutes and 20-seconds to pass. ;-)
Here’s to a great week (and smooth flights home, wherever you may be). :)
All my best,
P.S. This Friday I’ll be giving the keynote at the Out of Chicago Conference, and I’m pretty psyched about it. Heard so many great things about the conference, and I’m delighted they asked me to speak there this week. Looking forward to meeting some of you there. If you’re not going – you can still go! :)