Thursday, September 21, 2006



Story & Photography by Nawfal Nur

© August 2006 Nawfal Nur

Do you feel like an ape? Well, you do not have to be a monkey to perform this newfangled behavior, a behavior best defined as the ‘Continuous checking of the LCD screen on a digital camera after every shot – an activity termed “Chimping.”

You can see “Chimping” almost everywhere there are photographers. It is popular with amateur and professional photographers alike. Here is the general perception about “Chimping” between amateur and professional shooters.

Usually, amateur photographers benefit from seeing their photographic results right away by admiring their shots in the LCD screen. For most, it seems to be no big deal to enjoy photos right away; or, to see the results onscreen and then decide if there is a need to improve the shot by doing a retake.

Professionals seem to be a bit embarrassed about “Chimping” because if you are a professional photographer, you should be more concerned with keeping your eye to the eyepiece of the Digital-SLR. Professionals are invariably expected to use their years of training and experience to make sure the composition & exposure are correct before hitting the shutter button. Some professional photographers may view “Chimping” as a kind of weakness in photography skills. Others may see it as an obsession.

Yoda said the following about “Chimping” (Well, he didn’t actually say this, but he could have, OK!):

“Think I will help you young Photo-Jeti, do you? Hmmmmmmm… Look at the LCD screen…. “Chimping”….you cannot. Miss many photography opportunities, you will. On the viewfinder, keep your eye….yes…. At halftime or intermission or at home, review your photos you must….yes….”

If you cannot trust Yoda, then whom can you trust, yes!

Yoda appears to have a definite stand on the subject of “Chimping,” and I agree for the most part. Nevertheless, and I’ll say this very quietly so none of the anti-Chimping camp can hear me…come on, come closer so you can hear….”does it really matter?”

Reviewing photos on the LCD screen can save you a lot of grief. If you don’t “Chimp” now a then, especially when you are questioning a shot you just took, then you may really blow it!

If you are not sure if you got the right exposure, proper focus, acceptable tones, appropriate DOP [depth-of-field], the right expression on a model’s face, or whatever, then, you had better review your shots after taking them.

In sports and other action photography, such as stage photography, “Chimping” may not be such a good idea. The more time you have your eye away from the viewfinder focusing on the action, the more missed opportunities you will experience. If you are using an advanced or simple point-and-shoot digital, it is very easy to “Chimp” each frame, as the LCD screen is typically more effective than the viewfinder to compose your shots.

There’s no need to be embarrassed if you are a “Chimpaholic.” You decide on how serious you are about photography and how much dependence you need to have on reviewing your images after taking them. This statement is more intended for those of you using DSLR cameras.

There is probably a complicated formula that can calculate photography skill in direct proportion to the amount of time spent “Chimping”; however, I would not worry about your reliance too much.

There is one thing I must strongly advise you about, try not to participant in “Group Chimping”…that can look a little silly. “Group Chimping” is especially prevalent at sports and political events. After important shots, you may see a ridiculously big group of photographers looking at their LCD monitors and admiring their shots, and that is “Group Chimping.”

Good Luck and Happy Shooting!

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