What is chimping? It’s a simple and kinda funny sounding digital photography term used to describe the habit of immediately checking every shot on the LCD screen right after its captured. So is chimping a good thing or bad? A sign that you’re an amateur photographer, a seasoned pro or somewhere in between? Here’s what I think.
As for most concepts, there are two schools of thought about chimping. Some photographers see chimping as a telltale sign of an amateur, or a photographer who is not confident about their camera settings and needs to check every photo to course correct. Then there are other photographers who find chimping totally acceptable and see absolutely nothing wrong or amateur about reviewing images on-camera in the moment.
So where do I stand? With the chimpers! You’ll see me chimping after my first couple of shots to make sure the image I’ve captured looks the way I want it to. I’m primarily checking exposure, focus and composition. I don’t chimp after every single shot, but I do feel it’s important early in shooting to ensure my camera settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) are where I need them to be. Then I shoot away.
If I change locations or if the composition of my current scene changes, say a butterfly lands on the flower I am shooting or the sun pops out from behind a cloud, then I will start chimping again. To me, having the ability to chimp is one of the beauties of newer digital cameras with LCD screens. So why not use it?!
However, I am a Zen photographer, so when I shoot I strive to calm my mind, reduce distractions and focus on the present moment. Excessive chimping takes me away from mindfulness and prevents me from truly ‘seeing’ every aspect of the scene. I like to take note of the sound, the smell, the movement, the temperature, and the feel of the environment where I am shooting. That’s the true meaning of seeing. Excessive chimping limits my ability to see my scene so I take a balanced approach to chimping.
So that’s my take on the matter. Do you chimp your shots? Let me know in the comments area below.