Soot emission from diesel engines generally increases with shorter ignition lags. However, the detailed process and mechanism of this phenomenon has not been well understood. This investigation attempts to observe and analyze the in-chamber soot formation process at various ignition lags by high-speed photography of the direct flame images and laser shadowgraphs as well as the laser light extinction.In the experiment, the separation of soot concentration from the soot-fuel mixture concentration was established by subtracting the laser light extinction intensity through a non-firing chamber from that through a firing chamber.It was found that the soot concentration in the swirl chamber reached a maximum value immediately after the start of combustion, and then decreased rapidly. With shorter ignition lags, the maximum and final soot concentrations in the chamber increased. Photographic analysis showed that shorter ignition lags formed higher soot concentrations in flames, into which more fuel was directly injected.