From the PopPhoto Flash Archives

Shutter lag, the frustrating delay between the time you press the shutter and the time your camera actually takes a picture, usually isn’t a problem on newer compacts, but can still happen, causing you to miss shots.

Shutter lag, the frustrating delay between the time you press the shutter and the time your camera actually takes a picture, usually isn’t a problem on newer compacts, but can still happen, causing you to miss shots.

Luckily, there are ways to beat shutter lag. All the little bells and whistles on your camera like image stabilization, face recognition, and even auto-focus add up to slow your camera down. If you want to speed up your camera, shutting some of these features off will do that.

Of course, you can't really do away with all of these features, so the next best thing is to get them done in advance. You can do this by pressing the shutter release halfway. This makes the camera do everything else it needs to do before actually taking a shot. Once you press the button all the way, you should get a picture almost instantly.
—Luis Cruz