Nikon Release Mode Dial

Release Mode Dial
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

How To Operate The Release Mode Dial?

Release mode dial is generally found in Nikon manufactured DSLR cameras. The release dial is located just under the camera mode dial and looks something like this.

Release Mode Dial

 As the name suggests, this release mode dial controls what happens when the shutter button is pressed. You will find there are many letters and symbols on the dial. Aligning them to the white line selects a different function for your camera.

Let’s understand now what these strange looking letters and symbols mean and how or when can you use them to take great photographs.

Do one thing, keep up with me and turn the release mode dial of your camera right now and you will instantly understand what I am talking about and this will save you a ton of time later on. Ready to try this out?


‘S’ stands for single frame, i.e. the camera takes just one photograph when on this mode, and then it stops until you repeat the process of autofocusing and light metering,ie, you release the shutter button again completely and then press it again.

You can use this mode when you are shooting relatively static subjects, that do not move very much like a landscape or a building.



‘CL’ stands for Continuous Low. This means the camera is on a continuous drive but on the ‘low’ setting. Let me explain. Continuous mode is mode where the camera keeps on taking photographs for as long as the shutter button is pressed (this is true for all cameras); many manufacturers call it the burst mode too. The Low denotes here the number of frames the camera is going to capture in one second.

Continuous Drive

 For example, my Nikon D7000 has a maximum of six frames per second (fps); but when on the low mode, the camera would only take around four or five. Theoretically, a little lower frame rate than the absolute maximum should get you a better result; but I personally have never seen much difference in a CL and a CH shot.


‘CH’ stands for Continuous High. This is the same as above only the camera would take the maximum number of images it can take in one second. In my case that would be six.


‘Q’ stands for quiet shutter mode. What essentially happens is the camera now gets as silent as it can be. When you take a photograph, the mirror inside the camera will flip up really quietly and stay there as long as you do not release the shutter button to come back to the halfway position.

The quiet mode can be used in places where a loud shutter click can be a problem like in a hospital or in a library.



You probably already know what this mode does. This mode delays the time between when the shutter button is fully pressed and when the photograph is actually taken. In Nikon cameras, the default delay is ten seconds but you can select the delay in the Timer/AE Lock section of the Customs Setting menu. Also you may select the number of images you want the camera to take in newer Nikon models; consult your camera manual for this.

 Self timer

You can use self-timer to click your ‘self-images’ when no one else is available to press the shutter button for you. Just to be a little clear about the entire process; as you select the delay and press the shutter, the autofocus lamp at the front of the camera would start to blink and the beep sound will go off. Consequently, the autofocus lamp will flash increasingly quickly as it finally takes the photograph.


The remote mode can be used to fire the shutter NOT by pressing the shutter button but using a wireless remote instead. Nearly all Nikon models use the ML-L3 wireless remote.

ML L3 Remote

You can use the remote to fire the shutter if you are taking a self-image (again) or you may also get really creative and use the wireless remote to fire the shutter when you are taking long shutter speed shots, so that you can eliminate camera jerk or movement.


This is the initial for Mirror Up mode. As you probably already know your DSLR camera has a mirror inside it that reflects the incoming light from the lens and lets you see the subject through the view finder. However, the process introduces a little vibration or jerk when the mirror suddenly flips up. This is not a problem in regular scenarios but it can be a problem when you are taking a very long shutter speed shot.

To eliminate this problem, the Mirror up mode is used. What happens is as you select this mode and press the shutter button; the mirror flips up but the camera doesn’t take a photo. It is only when you let the shutter button up again and press it fully is the photograph taken.

Light Trail

  • Note: When the mirror flips up the first time when you press the shutter button; you will not be able to see anything through the view finder, do not worry this is normal.

Another thing to note here is that this mode is best used when the camera is on a tripod; as the process of pressing the shutter button twice without shaking the camera is quite a task. You may also use a ML-L3 remote as well, just in case you want to be extra careful.

That is all you need to know about your camera’s release mode dial. Put it to work now and let us know your experience with it.