Advanced Settings

What is shutter speed?

Written by Gail Bjork

The shutter controls the length of time light hits the camera sensor. Slow shutter speeds capture the feeling of movement, while fast shutter speeds freeze movement.

Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter remains open to allow light to reach a digital camera sensor. Shutter speed is measured in seconds, or fractions of seconds.

Photographed at shutter speeds of 1/200th sec and 1/13th sec. Click for larger view.

Photographed at shutter speeds of 1/200th sec and 1/13th sec. Click for larger view.

Using very fast shutter speeds “freeze” fast-moving subjects, such as birds in flight. Slow shutter speeds are used to intentionally capture the movement of a subject.

How an image is exposed is determined by the combination of the lens aperture and shutter speed. A fast shutter speed uses a larger aperture (small F-stop number) to avoid an under-exposed image. A slow shutter speed requires a small aperture (large F-stop number) to avoid over-exposure.

Typical shutter speeds are: 1/2000 second, 1/2000 sec, 1/500 sec, 1/250 sec, 1/125 sec, 1/60 sec, 1/30 sec, 1/15 sec, 1/8 sec, 1/4 sec, 1/2 sec and 1 second. On some digital cameras you can manually set shutter speed a lot slower than a second for very long exposures.

For most, hand holding a digital camera at shutter speeds below 1/60th of a second often require use of a camera support to prevent camera shake.

Shutter Priority Mode

Shutter Priority mode is a semi-automatic exposure mode. You select the shutter speed and the camera automatically sets the aperture for a proper exposure.

For digital cameras without Shutter Priority use Sports, Kids and Pets or Fast Shutter mode.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

2 Comments

  • […] information are recorded by the camera into the image file. Examples of stored information are shutter speed, date and time a photo was taken, focal length, exposure compensation, metering pattern and if a […]