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What Is Chimping In Photography?

Chimping is when you check a photo on your LCD screen straight after you have taken it. 

This is only possible on digital cameras since you can instantly see your photos.

So if you’re a film photographer then you can’t really ever be caught chimping because you can’t review your pictures until the film has been developed. 

People say that the term ‘chimping’ has come about because of the sounds that you might make when you check the photo and you get excited – “ooh, ooh, ooh” like a chimp. 

What is Shutter Speed ? - Photography Pursuits

What is Shutter Speed ? - Photogra... x
What is Shutter Speed ? - Photography Pursuits

Chimping is something that pretty much everyone is guilty of, but it can have somewhat of a bad reputation among photographers. 

Why Is Chimping A Derogatory Term In Photography?

While chimping isn’t always a bad thing it can be used as a derogatory term in photography because it can lead to photographers spending less time focusing on shooting and just fiddling with their equipment instead. 

This isn’t just a term for newbies either and it doesn’t really matter whether you have a camera costing $500 or $5000. 

Let’s describe some of the disadvantages of chimping so you can see why some people may see it as a bad habit.

Disadvantages of Chimping:

Missing action – the main disadvantage of chimping is missing out on action, especially when it could be a once in a lifetime shot.

This is more important in events and fast moving action, such as sports events.

Sometimes you might only have a split second to capture that perfect shot, but if you’re busy looking at your LCD screen you will miss it! …and you’ll regret it. 

Battery Life

Since chimping requires you to use the LCD screen, the camera will be using up more battery life by doing so.

Doing it now and then is not too much of an issue, but if you are doing it constantly then this time can add up and result in you getting through your batteries a lot faster than you need to.

Confidence

Having to check every image you take says a lot about your confidence in your own abilities as a photographer as it shows that you aren’t fully comfortable with your settings.

This is not to say you should never check your photos, but if you find yourself checking photos too often then it might be worth revising what you know about camera settings and lighting.

While there are also other disadvantages these are probably the main ones. There are also some advantages to consider.

The Advantages Of Chimping In Photography

Correcting mistakes and improving

By reviewing your images you can see what you don’t like and improve on your photos for the next few shots.

Correcting your own mistakes as a photographer is a key way of improving so this can actually be very beneficial to your growth if you do it right. 

Slow moving scenes / Still life photography

While there is a clear argument to not chimp in fast moving events, in a slow moving scene this is a lot less likely to cause you to miss things. Reviewing your shots could make sure that your final shots come out even better.

In still life photography this is even easier since your subject shouldn’t be moving at all (or you have complete control over its movement). 

Changing lighting

If you are in a situation where the light is changing fairly often due to things out of your control then it can be good to review every so often.

This makes sure you haven’t exposed your pictures completely wrong.

For example, you might have been shooting with soft natural lighting provided by cloud cover, but then the sun came out and now the picture is overexposed in some areas.

It is important to correct exposures to changing lighting environments and chimping could help you to do that. 

Conclusion

Chimping might be seen as a negative or newbie thing to do, but you should make the final judgement call. There are times where it can make sure that you take better photos.

On the other hand,  if you’re just about to come to the climax of an event – just don’t.

You don’t want to be that person who’s going to miss the game changing moment in a sports game.

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