In most photography workshops, I get this question fairly often. Newbies suffer the most, but at times I have seen seasoned professionals struggle with figuring out what happened.
You are ready to take a shot, and have set the exposure (Av), or shutter speed (Tv), or are taking a shot at Auto Settings (A mode), and when you press the shutter button all the way, it refuses to click.
Many people think that it is a hardware issue, the camera is faulty, or something went wrong with the settings.
And they cry – “Help! I can’t press the shutter button on my DSLR Camera”…
Is it a Hardware issue or a Settings Problem?
No. Nothing is wrong with the camera, or the settings!
The problem is that Canon ( and Nikon and other DSLR makers for that matter) want to protect you from taking bad shots.
By bad shots, they mean that maybe you are too close to the subject, or it is too dark and the photograph won’t come out nicely.
So the camera locks you out.
This happens when you are using Auto Focus (the Auto focus slider switch is on AF).
So what is the solution? How do I press the shutter?
Well, first of all, try to figure out if you are too close to the subject (every lens has a minimum focusing distance. Any less than this, and the lens is unable to focus). If possible, move back a bit, increase the distance between you and the subject, or recompose the subject from another angle.
Secondly, it could be too dark at the current settings. You can increase the aperture (so more light can reach the camera sensor), or reduce the shutter speed by 1 to 2 stops (so that more time is taken to capture the shot), and more light enters the camera sensor.
Once the camera is able to auto focus, it will allow you to press the shutter all the way, and take the shot. Happy!
No, I really want to take the shot at the current settings
All right, if you do not want to tweak the aperture or the stutter speed, and don’t want to move or increase the distance between you and the subject, then the final solution is the only way out.
Change the Focus Slider from AF (Auto Focus) to M (Manual).
This means that you are responsible for keeping the subject in focus. Now the camera won’t bother you, and will allow you to take the shot at whatever aperture, or shutter value you have set.
But beware, you have been warned. The shot may come out blurry, or too dark, or out of focus if you aren’t able to achieve perfect focus.
However, with this setting, it allows you to take the shot the way you want it. No questions asked. No ifs and no buts…
I first came upon this simple solution when I was trying to take a slow exposure to write with fire in a dark night, and the camera simply froze.
It was my new Canon Rebel (Canon 500D in Asia) and I thought it was a faulty camera. So the next day I took it to the Canon Repair Center, and they told me how to fix the situation. 🙂
Since then, I have told this technique to scores of people at photography forums, and workshops.
Hope you will benefit from it too!
Vinai is an avid photographer and likes to share his findings, pictures, and tips with anyone interested in Photography. He is the founder of PhotographyChamp.com photography tips blog.