Monday, August 29, 2011

Shutter Speed

If you want to capture still photos of fast motion (like pressing pause on your DVD player) you have to use a fast shutter speed. Many sports photographers use very fast shutter speeds to capture the peak moment and freeze it in time.

The Numbers of Shutter Speed
Here is an example of shutter speed numbers, from fast to slow:
1/2000  1/1500  1/1000  1/750  1/500  1/350  1/250  1/180  1/125  1/90  1/60  1/45  1/30
1/2000 of a second is an incredibly fast shutter speed and is not one that you will typically use. The most common shutter speeds are anywhere from 1/500 to 1/60. If you want sharp images while holding the camera in your hands, you cannot use shutter speeds much slower than 1/60 because it's hard to hold the camera steady. Slow shutter speeds blur motion and you are creating motion by holding the camera in your hands. You can solve this camera shake problem by stabilizing the camera on a tripod.
Some of the new digital camera models offer an anti-shake feature. These features produce crisp photos even when you are hand-holding the camera with a shutter speed less than 1/60.

Digital Camera Shutter Speed Display
The most common shutter speeds are measured in fractions of seconds. However, camera displays do not have enough room to show you numbers like 1/800.
Instead, digital cameras just display the bottom number: 800. If you look at your camera's display and it tells you that your shutter speed is 125, this does not mean 125 seconds. That would make for some very long and boring picture taking.
Instead, most cameras indicated seconds with a double quote after the number. So a one second shutter speed is displayed as 1". A 30 second shutter speed is displayed as 30".

Shutter Priority
Many digital cameras can be set to shutter priority mode. In this mode, you set the shutter speed and the camera automatically selects the aperture so that the photograph has the right exposure.

Shutter Speed Comparisons

A Formula 1 racing car is moving at high speed, and you don't want the image blurry
Very fast shutter speed
2000 to 4000
Your kids on sports day, and you want the images to be sharp and clear
Fast shutter speed
500 to 1000
You are taking a photo of your favourite pet, and your pet is being polite and sitting still
Moderate shutter speed
125 to 500
A merry-go-round is spinning and you want to show how fast it is going by letting the horses blur
Slow shutter speed and tripod
8 to 60
You want to take a photograph of your favourite building at night

" denotes time in seconds

8" to 30"


  1. Oh boy! This is the stuff I have to get my head around. When I eventually get my 'real' camera...I'm coming straight back here to sort it all out.

  2. This is the hard part of photography getting your head around the right settings. Thanks have to work on this one a bit more.

    Always Wendy