What is Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is a measurement of the time the shutter is open. Shown in seconds or fractions of a second: 1 s, 1/2 s, 1/4 s … 1/250 s, 1/ 500 s, etc. So basically, the faster the shutter the better chance you’ll have at an image without blur or camera shake. When you press the button to take a picture, the shutter opens so that light can get to the sensor. The amount of time that the shutter remains open before closing again is the shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds (1/500 – 1/2000) will freeze or stop action while slower shutter speeds (1/2 -1/4) will create motion blur. The Shutter in your camera is like your eyelids. The number that you assign to the shutter speed is the speed the ‘blink’. So as you slow down the shutter speed you are allowing more light to pass through.

As we discussed previously in our ISO topic. An increase in ISO makes the camera sensor more sensitive to light. And as well as an increase in noise, another side effect is that the shutter speed becomes faster. The result is that you can freeze movement if the shutter speed is fast enough for the speed of the subject

So how do you decide which shutter speed to use?

The first things to ask yourself when deciding what shutter speed to use are:

Photo by Genessa Panainte on Unsplash

You want to use a faster shutter speed in situations where you want to freeze action in your photograph — for example, a faster shutter speed would be used if you were photographing sporting events, concerts, or wildlife. You want to capture the athlete in motion, the wildlife in a sprint.

In turn you will want to use a slower shutter speed when you want your image to capture motion or movement – for example, water streams and waterfalls look beautiful when shot at a slow shutter speed. Motion blur can be effective in communicating speed. Even at a slower speed, it can also be effective in showing motion.

Recommended Shutter Speeds

Here are our recommendations for shutter speed in some situations you might encounter:

Moving water (blurred) – 1/2 second

People walking (blurred) – 1/4 second

Everyday snapshots of still subjects – 1/125 second

Freezing people walking – 1/250 second

Freezing slow moving animals – 1/250 second

Sporting events – 1/500 – 1/1000 second

Fast moving cars or motorcycles – 1/1000 seconds

Birds in flight – 1/2000 seconds