How quickly a series of photos can be taken in succession is known as the frame rate, shot-to-shot rate, or click-to-click rate. If the frame rate is not quick enough, the photographer can miss a desired shot.
Digital cameras experience two delays that affect the photographer's ability to capture fast-action shots. The first delay, just a second or two, occurs once you have pressed the shutter button and before the camera actually captures the image. This delay is known as the shutter lag. During this small delay, the camera is preparing to take the picture by clearing the image sensor, setting the white balance to correct the color, setting the exposure, and focusing the image. Last, if needed, the camera fires the flash, then takes the picture. An average shutter lag time is about one and a half seconds. The second delay, called recycle time, takes an average of three seconds. That's when the captured image is processed and stored.
Some cameras offer a burst mode, which lets the photographer take photo after photo while holding down the shutter button. To increase the frame rate, these cameras often decrease the resolution used to capture the images. Some even divide the image sensor into sections and store a single low-res image in each section, then process them all at once. Some digital cameras reduce recycle time by temporarily storing a series of images in the camera's RAM until they can be processed. A camera with burst mode enables the photographer to easily capture action shots.