The Beginning Photographer's Guide To Shutter Speed

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Shutter speed measures how fast the shutter of your camera opens and closes. The longer time it is open, the more light to which your digital image sensor (or film) is exposed. The more light exposure, the more potential movement you'll capture from the scene you're snapping.

Most cameras today come loaded with a few modes that use predefined shutter speeds. These are simply preset guides that will help you compose shots with the suitable level of clearness. In time, you will need to experiment with your own adjustments.

If you are just beginning to learn the rules of photography, the concept of SS may appear baffling. Below, we'll explain how shutter speed is utilized in assorted circumstances and describe the most common preset modes. You'll also learn the way to adjust to each situation to produce uniquely forceful photographs.

Understanding the Use of Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is measured in fragments of seconds, or entire seconds. For instance, you could see the SS listed on your camera as '60,' suggesting the shutter speed is 1/60. On the other hand, many cameras offer shutter speeds of half a minute or more. The guideline is that the smaller the fraction, the faster the SS and the less light that is permitted in. That's, 1/500 is faster than 1/60.


There won't often be circumstances in which you may employ a shutter speed slower than 1/60. The reason is due to camera shake. Unless you are using a model with an image stabilization feature or a tripod, slower speeds will often produce unintended blur.

Most units will supply a number of shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/500. The speedier settings are designed to capture subjects that are moving (e.g. splashing water, race cars, trains, flying birds, etc . ). As an example, if you were to shoot a moving train, the 1/500 setting would freeze its motion within your photograph, making the train appear as it it were standing still. A 1/8 setting would produce a blurred picture of the train, suggesting movement. Both are valid results. Both can be employed to make photographs that impact on your audience.

Common Preset Camera Modes

Digital cameras routinely come with a number of pre-programmed settings, each with a different shutter speed to accommodate a particular kind of circumstance. For instance, automatic mode lets your camera take the reins and choose the most suitable SS for any given situation. As a beginner shutter-bug, you'll likely find yourself tempted to depend on automatic mode. After all , it's straightforward to use and removes the guesswork. However, But, you need to spend the time to experiment with the other modes.


The landscape mode expands your depth of field with a small aperture. It brings more subjects into focus, even if those subjects are located at varying distances from your camera. This mode often uses a slow shutter speed, so have a tripod available if your camera isn't equipped with image stabilization.

The portrait mode uses a bigger aperture and places points of interest in your background out of focus. It's the opposite of landscape mode and uses a quicker shutter speed.

Night mode uses a very slow SS and can produce alarming effects. As the shutter speed is slow, subjects in your background will be in focus. If you take footage in this mode without the use of a tripod or image stabilization feature, the background subjects will be blurred. If there are lights behind these subjects, the blur can produce interesting results.

Adjusting To The Environment

If you're photographing still points of interest, shutter speed can be trusted to the pre-programmed modes described above. If you're taking shots of moving subjects, learn how to adjust your SS to capture the quantity of movement you wish to convey in your photos. For instance, splashing water can be frozen with an SS of 1/350. A golfing ball might require 1/3000. With experience, you may eventually be in a position to choose the suitable shutter speed for any given situation.

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