Understanding Shutter Speed in Digital Photography (Beginners Guideline)

It is difficult to take good pictures without having a perfect understanding of Exposure. ISO, Aperture and shutter speed is known as Exposure Triangle. So here I discuss the very important part called shutter speed. In this short article I will try to discuss the everything that I know about shutter speed. After reading this article you get sound knowledge about shutter speed.

Shutter speed is basically a magic of DSLR camera. You can be freezing or burning the motion by controlling shutter speed. Before learning shutter speed you make sure that you have a sound knowledge about Aperture and ISO.

What is Shutter speed?

Shutter speed means exposure time. Exposure time stands the length of time a camera shutter is open to expose the light in camera sensor. Fast shutter speed can freeze the motion and slow shutter speed can create a motion blur.This effect is used quite a bit in advertisements of cars and motorbikes, where a sense of speed and motion is communicated to the viewer by intentionally blurring the moving wheels.

How is Shutter speed measured?

Shutter speed is measured in seconds or most case it can measure in a fraction of seconds. For example, 1/4 is a quarter of seconds, 1/2000 means one two thousands of seconds. Most modern DSLRs can handle shutter speeds of up to 1/4000th of a second, while some can handle much higher speeds of 1/8000th of a second and faster. On the other hand, the longer side of the shutter speed of most DSLR is 30 seconds.

How To Set Shutter Speed

In DSLR camera shutter speed may be set in automatically. When the camera is set to in auto mode then shutter speed and aperture is set automatically selected by the camera. In Aperture priority mode you set the lens aperture camera will set the shutter speed automatically.

But only in Manual Mode and Shutter priority mode you can set shutter speed manually. Shutter speed set depends on your light on the subject. In daylight photography, you should set the lower shutter speed and in night photography you should set the Slower shutter speed.

The most common shutter speed settings available on cameras are usually 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8 etc. So if you think that you can not control shutter speed than you should take a photo in aperture priority mode.

Slow and Fast Shutter Speed

Some camera gives you the action of slower shutter speed. Basically slower shutter speed set in low light photography. 1 seconds, 10 seconds and 30 seconds are the example of slower shutter speed. These are used in very low light situations, when you’re going after special effects and/or when you’re trying to capture a lot of movement in a shot.

To freeze the moment you should set a faster shutter speed. Faster shutter speed will give you a blurred background. In the bird image above the shutter speed was 1/1250th of a second meaning that despite the birds fast flapping wings they appear to be frozen in a split second of time.

How To Find Shutter Speed

Do you know how to find out what your camera shutter speed is set to? It is very easy to find out shutter speed both Nikon and Canon DSLRs.

If you look through the viewfinder it should also be the number on the bottom left side of the screen. On most DSLRs, you will not see the shutter speed as a fraction of a second – it will typically be a regular number. When the shutter speed is slower than or equals to one second, you will see something like 1″ or 5″.

Shutter Speed- Bringing it Together

Remember that to set of shutter speed depend on another two elements which are Aperture and ISO. So if you need to change the shutter speed then you should compensate other two elements on it.

For example, if you speed up your shutter speed one stop (for example from 1/125th to 1/250th) you’re effectively letting half as much light into your camera. To compensate for this you’ll probably need to increase your aperture one stop (for example from f16 to f11). So you should more conscious about the light of the subject then set the exposure triangle.

Sharif Mishu

Hi, I am Sharif Mishu from Bangladesh. I am a freelance photographer. I've been in photography since 2010. I got my first DSLR in 2013. Since then I learned many things about photography from my friends, senior, and junior. But the internet was the place that taught me the basics of photography. Here at PicFact.com, I'll be sharing useful photography tips.