Advanced Techniques

Shutter speed chart

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

To freeze the action or capture motion in a photo, adjust the shutter speed. Here are suggested shutter speeds for a variety of subjects.

Shutter speed effects

Capture movement or freeze the action

When taking a photo of a moving subject, changing the shutter speed can change the look of an image.

If a slow shutter speed is selected, movement is captured. Using a fast shutter speed will freeze the action.

Here are suggested shutter speeds for photographing a variety of subjects.

Children – 1/250 – 1/1000 seconds Amusement park rides: +/- one second
Moving water/waterfalls: 1/1000 seconds or more Moving water/waterfalls: 4 or more seconds
Sporting event: 1/500 – 1/2000 seconds Fireworks: 1/2 – 4 seconds
Birds in flight: 1/1000th a second and above Moving cars at night: 8-10 seconds
Night photography – one or more seconds

* The closer action is to your digital camera, the faster the shutter speed is needed.

Shutter speed faster than focal length

To help prevent images from becoming blurred, set the shutter speed faster than the focal length. This is particularly important when shooting at a long focal length even if your camera has image stabilization.

For example, a zoom lens set at 200mm (35mm equivalent) requires a shutter speed of at least 1/200 second to avoid a blurred image. Adjust shutter speeds even faster for DSLRs with a focal length multiplier .

** Tripod or other camera support is recommended whenever using slow shutter speeds. Also use the self-timer or remote to trigger the shutter to prevent camera movement.

If your camera has Image Stabilization, some manufacturers recommend shutting it off when using a digital camera on a tripod; some newer cameras sense when it is mounted on a tripod and automatically shuts off IS. Check your camera manual.


  • Am glad to find that one of my stock images (Niagara Falls) is used to explain shutter speed! I lived in upstate New York for a while and loved going out to Niagara Falls with my camera! I found that high shutter speed to freeze water + long lens/zooming above 200mm was a great combination to capture the power and immensity of the waterfall.

  • Sharon, firewire is usually found only on high-end digital cameras. I suggest you call a place like B&H Photo. They will help you find a suitable camera to meet your needs and price range. They will also help you determine if you need an adapter that will let you connect your camera to computer. There are three types of connections, each having a slightly different shape.

  • what is the best camera with a firewire connection to capture golf swings -need to be able to adjust shutter speed. does not have to be hd.

  • Rene, currently there are few cameras that can match the speed and performance of a dslr for photographing action, such as animals. However, if you want to photograph slow moving or wildlife, consider a superzoom, a very versatile camera. They are less than half the price of most DSLRs and provide excellent image quality in good lighting. While they don’t have the low light performance of a DSLR, they do surprisingly better than cameras of just a few years ago. the DMC-FZ150
    or Canon SX40. Both are very highly regarded cameras.

  • Katherine, DSLRs some in all shapes, sizes and prices. Get the model that fits best in your hands and won’t break the bank. If you have a limited DSLR budget, get a good entry-level DSLR such as the Canon T3i and then spend your money on getting the best lens you can afford for action photography.

  • Hello! I am looking to purchase a camera and I’m feeling a wee bit overwhelmed with the process. We just recently purchased a Fujifilm S4550 and we are returning it due to low quality pictures taken indoors. I will be mainly taking pictures of animals, nature, etc. I would love a DSLR but not the cost. Also, the Fuji we purchased was a larger camera, I’m not sure if I’m ready for a “bulky” camera. I’m not sure how convient it would be carry it around. Any ideas? Thanks so much in advance! 🙂

  • I am looking to buy a camera, with the purpose of taking football photos, and for personal use. I favor the canons DSLR any suggestions on which one I should choose?

  • Tate, for sport photography, a DSLR will serve you best. It has high shutter speeds and does well when using high ISO numbers, often needed in low light to increase shutter speed. You may also want to take a look at the new Nikon 1 cameras, though they are more expensive than an entry level DSLR.

  • I am looking to get preferably a compact digital camera, but am willing to go with a larger camera such as a DSLR, with a manual shutter speed adjustment control for shooting mainly sports but with some nature thrown in their. What shutter speed would be the best for sports such as soccer, basketball, racquetball and football? I would like to get it for under $500 if possible. Any suggestions? Thanks for the opportunity to ask!

  • Alton, congratulations of your new camera. There are lots of places to learn about how to use it. Type basic terms or phrases, such as RAW, types of lenses, DSLR, etc. in the search field at this site. We have lots of information for DSLR users, written especially for novices. I also recommend you visit the dpreview forums for users of cameras like yours. You’ll get lots of help there. Sometimes forums can be a bit overwhelming for a new user so here are some photography forum terms that you may find helpful.

  • Hello everyone, I just brought a Canon Rebel T3 w/ the 18-55 lens as my first photography camera. I want to learn more about photography, but I am clueless right now. Are there any good websites I can go to and learn more about how to use it, difference between RAW and JPeg, lighting, etc?

  • Thanks for you advice I went for the Nikon d500 in the end wanted the d3100 but no where had them Thanks again

  • Tracy, most entry level DSLRs, such as those made by Nikon and Canon, start at about 3 frame per second continuous mode. That should suffice for photographing your daughter jumping her horses. Try to get as fast a lens as you can afford, because that lets you shoot at faster shutter speeds. Raising the ISO will do the same. These entry level cameras are quite advanced. If you get a telephoto lens, make sure you get one with image stabilization. Get a high speed memory card too. Here are some tips on photographing fast-moving subjects.

  • Hello….I am interested in purchasing a dslr to photograph my daughter jumping her horses. Would any dslr that has at least 3fps be capable of this? If not, what is the minimum fps I should be looking for? I’m moving up from a point and shoot and dont want to buy more camera than I’ll ever use. Thank you so much for this great site!

  • Hi I just recently got a Fuji s3400. I am just a beginner and would like to know what settings should I use to photograph water falls and other moving water and also i would like to photograph the moon. I want to use manual mode but don’t know what settings to use. thanks for your help

  • vickie, the Nikon 1 cameras have DSLR focus speed and accuracy. They are primarily geared to novice digital camera users so they don’t have some of the settings and control of even entry-level DSLRs. A potential “problem” with the Nikon J1 when photographing fast-moving subjects like racing cars is that it doesn’t have a viewfinder to help steady the camera as you pan. The Nikon 1 V1 may be a better option. However, it is very expensive at this time. I’ve seriously considered selling my DSLR and buying the Nikon V1 but decided I don’t want to give up the overall performance and handling of my DSLR (which also has a dedicated hot shoe for external flash). For sure, it is heavier and bulkier to lug around but is very comfortable when actually using it. The best thing to do is go to a camera shop to give both systems a try. Entry level DSLRs by Canon and Nikon are very good. They also have larger sensors so images will have a lot less noise when shooting at high ISO numbers. Shooting at high ISO not only has an advantage in low light but to get faster shutter speeds in good light and when using the long end of the zoom (that may be needed when photographing racing cars).

  • hi i’m a self taught photographer love taking pictures mainly of children pets but i also go to car racing and enjoy taking pictures i would love your advice on this problem of deciding on a better camera i currently own a ge bridge camera but it takes a long time to shot im fascinated by the Nikon j1 as for the shots per second but also would like the dslrs i have trolled the internet for 6 months now and have found this site would be most grateful for you advice

  • Beeee, for the combined features you’re looking for, a compact camera is not the best choice. Prior the the introduction of new Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras, few other cameras have the speed and focus accuracy of a DSLR, but the Nikon J1 and Nikon V1 do. The main criticism of the Nikon 1 cameras is that they do not do well in Auto mode, but this should not be a concern when using Shutter Priority Mode.

  • Hi,
    I need to have such compact camera which has the features of fast shutter lag, speed (preferably manual shutter priority mode), image stabilization (for moving objects like pets/children water fall) and perform well in low light.
    Please suggest which camera should be suitable.

  • Taylor, a digital single lens reflex camera would best suit your needs. You can get one in your price range, however it’s the lenses that will cost you. Another alternative is a superzoom such as the Canon SX40 or the Panasonic FZ150. They do very well in good light however they don’t have the speed performance of a DSLR. And because of their small sensors, they don’t do as well in low light compared to a DSLR. Saying that, the low light performance has significantly improved the last few years, especially cameras with a backlit CMOS sensor. If you go the DSLR route, take a look at the entry level models by Canon and Nikon.

  • I am looking for a camera that takes professional looking pictures and takes them quickly. I want something that can take a rapid amount of pictures- like something a wedding photographer would use- and has decent zoom and image clarity. I am not sure of the terms for these things, but that is what I want out of my camera. I don’t care about the bulk or weight of the camera. I prefer Nikon or Canon but won’t limit myself to those brands only. Maximum price preferably $700. I want to take pictures in nature, family portraits, or just anything that catches my eye. I want something quick, clear, and versatile. Thanks!

  • Mandi, unfortunately, your question is beyond the scope of Digicamhelp, which focuses on helping novices learn to use their digital camera. We rarely make camera recommendations. For the best advice, I recommend you visit the dpreview forums and post your questions. Try the Beginners or Open forum first. Among other things, they offer reviews and tools to compare digital cameras.

  • Thanks for the prompt response Gail.

    So I guess my next question is there a list of top 5 cameras you would select. As it is a long term investment I am prepared to put some money towards it. Furthermore out of curiosity and for anyone else out there who may have had a similar experience can you suggest a variety of cameras ranging from low end, mid point, & high end models please.

    (The one that I originally took had four lenses despite changing I still didn’t get what I wanted to achieve. Are you also suggesting two dslrs? I originally took the cannon & a digital).

    Thanks once again!


  • Mandi, there is no camera that will meet your expectations but a DSLR is probably the best choice. You can’t be shooting close-ups and then in a second think the camera is going to adjust quickly enough to capture a hummingbird flying over head, then in an instance switch the camera to capture galloping horses across the field. Try one or a combination of the following: get a much better DSLR with high speed focusing and exposure (it will cost you!), get better and a variety of lenses, bring along a second camera. And do buy some spare batteries.

    Give yourself time as you progress to a full time hobby. Learn about photography and become familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of a camera. Practice shooting skills. Nothing happens in an instant.

    Here’s a guide to types of lenses to consider.

  • You seem to have pretty good answers for most of the people on this forum so here goes…

    I recently returned from Costa Rica and took the EOS rebel XS Cannon, and found that it didn’t live up to the high expectations I had. Driving around in a jeep I wanted to capture close up shots of locals without getting them to stop and pose then the very next second a hummingbird over head, then in the next instance horses galloping across a field it was impossible with this camera.

    I don’t want to miss capturing the animals, people, architecture & landscape up close from afar, driving by or elements with extreme movement images in low light, or extreme light. A lot of lasting power if used for a whole day I know I am asking for the world in one camera but would appreciate your help. As many others on this website I am an amateur but hope to progress this over the next few years as a full time hobby.

    As many others on this website I am an amateur but hope to progress this over the next few years as a full time hobby.

    [NOTE: Edited for brevity]

  • Denise, we offer a free Digital Camera Buying Checklist that you can download, print out and take with you when you shop.

    Also, take a look at our Buying Guide section for lots of tips on features you should look for when buying a digital camera. Check the links in the RH column on this page. The Buying Guide section also offers lots of tips such as buying online vs in a store, extended warranties, etc.

    For you needs, a digital single lens reflex camera may serve you well. Even entry level DSLRs, such as those made by Canon and Nikon, offer extensive features found on very expensive cameras only a few years ago.

  • Hi I’am starting to look for a good camera that I can take pictures of my children. My girls do competitive dance and soccer so I would like to be able to get close ups on stage from sitting in the audience and get really good action shots when they are playing soccer. I was thinking about taking a photography course in my area, but haven’t really looked into yet. I planned on spending on good amount of money to get the camera I want. The only thing that I’m worried about that it is going to be to hard to learn how to use. And if possible can you give me some questions and things to look for when I’m talking to the sales people.

  • Misty, since your camera is out of warranty, you may want to take it to a local camera repair shop. If not, you’ll have to send it to a Nikon service center. Remember, though, the cost of repair may not be worth it. A new camera might be a better choice.

    If you want to stay at the entry level DSLR, more recent versions of your camera are the Nikon D3100 and Nikon d5100. Or consider a Canon 550D or 600D. The advantage of sticking with Nikon is that you may already have a couple of lenses.

    You should get better performance out of these cameras. Of course, another option is to get a portrait lens and a faster zoom lens for sports photography. Related reading: DSLR lens types

  • Hi, I am have been using a Nikon D40 for years now and it is time for me to upgrade. I do alot of portraits, and tons of Football, can you recommend me a Camera that will do the job I want it to do. I know I need a high shutter speed, but I am honestly ignorant about the subject. I just take some awesome pictures. Thanks in advance if you can help. Oh and do you know where I can get minor repairs done to my D40 and 2 lens.

  • Well Dominique, if those diamonds are real the camera is a real bargin. 😉

    I’m unfamiliar with the brand, but there are three main areas of concern regarding features:

    – The camera only has a digital zoom. Many avoid using a digital zoom like the plague because images to look coarse. The best type of zoom is optical (some cameras have both). PLEASE note that the Amazon heading says the camera has an “optical zoom” but the Technical Details on the page indicate it’s digital, as does the camera manual.

    – The camera lacks image stabilization.

    – The camera only takes a Micro SD card….very tiny in size and may be challenging to handle when you need to remove and insert it from the camera since you have to put the card in a special holder to used it in a memory card reader. Or, if you use a cable from the camera to computer to transfer images, it will eat up battery power.

    Take a look at some of the other suggested camera on the Amazon page; read customer ratings. I think there may be better options at or near the same price..

    Here’s an article about the minimum features you should look for when buying a compact digital camera.

  • robert, compact digital cameras like the Canon s90, s95 and s100, have features that allow for better low light photography: slightly larger sensors than most compacts and a what is known as a fast lens. I currently own the S100 and though I rarely need to use the flash in low light, it works when using continuous mode. There are less expensive cameras that do well in low light. They have smaller CMOS sensors (not CCD sensors). Before buying, test if the flash works in continuous mode. This article on types of digital camera sensors should help.

  • Hi……great info…Thanks. I was wondering If there was a camera…that had a continuous feature with a self timer..but also works in lower light settings? I had a camera with self timer and contin…but u could not use a flash with it…and pics never turned out great.

  • Thanks for the response,Gail!! The L120 is OUT! So the Nikon P500 and the Kodak z990 wouldnt be good either..?

  • Dominique, it would be great if you could swing for an entry-level DSLR, even one that’s a year or two old. No compact camera has the speed or low-light performance of a DSLR.

    According to some reviews, the Nikon L120 has a mediocre photo quality abouve ISO 200, and fairly high noise levels…less than ideal for inside concert photos.

    Here’s some information about top performing SuperZooms:

    If they are too expensive, consider a compact superzoom . They lack viewfinders so the light from the LCD may annoy other concert-goes.

    Narrow down your choices to a few cameras, then check the specs about whether or not they zoom (and autofocus) during video recording. Some Canon cameras do; not sure about the others.

  • Hi! Your blog was helpful..but I was confused on the whole 1/800 and all that stuff :/ Im not a photogopher. But I go to alot of concerts and all my friends have SLRs and stuff. I was looking into the Nikon L120. All my friends told me to go with Nikon or Cannon. Of course the singer moves I need a good sports mode…and Id also like a camera to where when you zoom in and out while videoing it doesnt cut off the sound. On my Olympus you cant zoom in and out. Is it also possible for a camera to take pictures while recording? But I heard about the L120 is that even if you have a memory card it only lets you take 30 minutes of video. Do you know if thats true? I also tested the Kodak Z990 in Sams CLub and it seemed pretty good. What cameras would you recommend for a concert? The last concert was in a bar..and it was really dark and my videos didnt turn out good 🙁 I cant afford an SLR. Sorry if this is so long and all over the place..Im just tired of spending almost 200 dollars on cameras that WONT work.

  • Thanks for your response Gail.
    I have posted the original photos here:[email protected]/

    I printed all these photos on a 4×6 inch paper and the following are present even on these small size prints:
    1. Grey line over the top of the mountain top in the “grey line over mountain.jpg” file
    2. Trees on the left look very much like a painting, even on 4×6 size print.
    Both photos were made at 10 megapixel resolution.

    There two other photos for comparison and these were shot with a very basic, 5 megapixel camera, but I find them looking much more better.
    Also, the size of the 10 megapixel photos is not significantly larger than those of the 5 megapixel ones. Does this mean that the 10 mgpx ones are compressed too much (and therefore lost clarity and detail)?
    Finally, do you agree that the Sony HX7V failed to take at least the same-quality pixs that the old Sony P93A did? Thanks.

    P.S. I am seriously thinking of swaping my $320, 16 megapixel HX7V with a $150 Canon A460.

  • Adam, without seeing the images it’s very difficult to assess the problems. If you can follow-up with a link to online photos, it would be possible to give more precise comments. Without seeing the photos consider the following: make sure you have the camera !SO to the lowest number to prevent camera shake. If ISO is too high, photos will look more like a painting than photo. Try minus exposure compensation for outside shots when sun the bright. If you think you may have inadvertently changed settings, hit your reset button. Check other settings such as exposure mode.

  • WATERFALLS – those are the wrong shutter speeds to properly show the beautiful fleece-like down-moving detail in the foaming, churning falling water. Very fast makes it like ice, and time-exposures blurs it all away to show only the blank hole in the atmosphere where the water went thru. The detail begins slowly at the spillover and accelatates down the column. It is actually quite slow. Use a tripod — BUT, with 1/30 to 1/50 sec! That way the deatail is still there, but is slightly blurring the further down it goes, thus doing justice to the waterfall and its action. Ignore the professionals who are in some dreamland by themselves. True waterfall lovers want to see the magnificence of Nature’s finest liquid action show.

  • Hello,

    Recently bought a Sony HX7V, shoot quite a lot and am dissapointed because:
    1. Photos look like paintings, I would say like aquarel paintings.
    2. In most photos the contours of mountains tops against the very blue sky are delineated by a white line.

    What might be the reason? The settings can be adjusted manually and I hope there is a way to improve the future shots.
    Thanks for your time.

  • I was looking at the Canon sx30 is. Is this a good camera? I shoot photos of birds , gators and other wildlife. Actually i need a camera with a good zoom.

  • Jaclyn, there is no question in my mind that the your best overall performance will be from an entry-level DSLR both for speed and low-light performance. In addition, DSLRs the last few years are capable of taking video. The kit lenses that come with them, while not on par with more expensive interchangeable lenses, are much better than those found of most compact cameras. Take a look some of the entry level DSLRs such as the Canon Rebel TXx (Canon 450 & higher) and Nikon D3XXX cameras. If you shop around, you should be able to get one for at or under $500. Make sure the lens has built-in image stabilization, also known as vibration reduction.

  • I have a 6 month old baby and I am having a hard time catching her do certain things in pictures. The current camera I have now seems to have a very long pause between when I push the button and when it actually takes the picture. What is a good camera under $500 that would be perfect for taking photos of her? I am not concerned with whether it is a point and shoot or a DSLR. I am more concerned with being able to capture her expressions before I miss them. Thx!

  • Danny, besides the differences you point out, the main differences between the cameras are their processors (the newer Venus Engine FHD vs. Venus Engine HD II), the screen resolution (46,000 vs 230,000) and continuous drive speed (3.7 fps vs 1.8 fps).

    The pixel decrease should make little difference in image quality and sharpness; in fact, may people think that less megapixels are better in cameras like these with small sensors.

    I believe you will find the information in this review helpful. Search for some reviews about the camera to get some opinions about the newer processor.

    Yes, the 60 sec shutter speed means you can take long exposures.

    I don’t know if the price difference between the two cameras is a lot but if the screen resolution, faster continuous drive, etc are important to you, it may be worth it. Otherwise, the cameras are very similar.

  • Hi, i really need your help. I am trying to decide between the Panasonic lumix fz45 and fz48, and apart from 1080p video recording, are there many differences? i.e. is it worth the extra cash to buy the fz48? The main reason i am looking at these cameras is because of the 60s shutter speed. It seems a huge amount of shutter speed compared to its rivals?! Does this mean that one picture will take 60 seconds to ‘take’ if set on 60 secs? ( I want to take pictures with motion in them, i think its called ‘long exposure’???) Also, does the pixel decrease on the fz48 make any diffence to the image quality and sharpness, in normal and macro photos?
    Many Thanks!! 🙂

  • Pat, both Nikon and Canon make excellent cameras, so are Sony and Panasonic.

    P&S cameras have improved a lot the last few years, so almost any camera you buy today will be faster by comparison (but don’t expect the responsiveness of a DSLR). The faster point and shoot cameras have a CMOS (or MOS) sensor (slower P&S cameras tend to have a CCD sensor). P&S’s with CMOS sensors also tend to do better in low light and video.

    We don’t really recommend cameras as there are so many. However, I’d like to point out two very fine cameras from last year. Their prices have dropped considerably since they first came to market. The first two links will open in my Amazon shop so you can read user comments.

    SD4000 (if wide angle and a faster lens for better low light performance are a priority)

    SD4500 (if a longer zoom is a priority)

    I owned the SD4000 and loved it. I’ve written some comments about it here, when I compared it to my Canon S90.

  • Hi,
    I want to buy a camera for my daughter. She says her old old is to slow – so she does not use it. I want to get a point and shoot and not to expensive thinkin $200-250. So since she sayss to slow in snapping the pics what is your suggestion? Generally I think Nikon and Canon are good cameras. Since it has been a while since I last shopped I am not sure which one to buy.

  • Hi ya,
    I have found your website and you seem to certainly know your cameras! I have a Sony WX7 but i do not get on with it very well.
    I am looking for a camera which takes great quality pics of my 1yr old, inside and outside. What about the Canon S100?
    I would like it to be compact enough to take anywhere and quick to take pics one after the other, i have a class 4 SD card.

    Many thanks!! Cas

  • Stacy, I’m perplexed why the number remains at OO. Have you tested using Shutter Priority mode to see if the AV settings change when you change the shutter speed? I’m not sure hitting the Reset button would change things but it wouldn’t hurt go give it a try before calling Canon tech support (which I recommend). The lens you have attached to the camera determines the minimum and maximum aperture. The fact that you consistently get 00 indicates that something may be wrong with the camera or lens. You can test which by trying a different lens. Good luck!

  • Hi Gail,

    I am currently using a Canon EOS 40D, and I am having issues with the aperture setting. When set in ‘Av’ mode, I am unable to change the f/number. It is consistently at 00. Any ideas as to what is causing this?

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Thanks so much!

  • I believe your camera accepts 67mm filters (check the manual). Consider buying a Neutral Density filter, which is briefly described in this article.

    A ND filter reduces the amount of light that passes through the lens without affecting the colors. It lets you use larger apertures or slower shutter speeds.

  • Hi Gail,

    I was trying to take photos with a shutter speed exceeding a second so as to show the effect of movement. However, trying to do this in well lit conditions is not possible as it allows to much light in. I was wondering if the focal length could be manually over-riden so to allow a focal length over f8/0 and therefore not allow this excessive light in. I have checked all the specs of my Canon SX30 and do not think this is possible. Is there a way that you can recommend that might work for taking “movement shots” of flowing water etc. in a well lit area??

    Thanks, your help is greatly appreciated.
    — I am just starting out n trying to find my feet 😉

  • Michael, by using fast shutter speeds you’ll certainly be able to freeze the action. The key will the amount of lighting in the room and the aperture size of the longest focal length you use.You didn’t mention which Fujifilm camera you’re buying but those with the EXR CMOS sensor usually do well at higher ISO numbers, which you may need to use to get fast shutter speeds. Here are a few tips for sports photography.. Don’t forget to practice before the actual event to get a feel for handling the camera.

  • I’m getting this fujufilm camera and the shutter speed is: 8 – 1/2000 seconds. Is this good to take photos of basketball. Like will I be able to freeze an action like a layup, a dunk, foul shot,and even a 3-pointer? Thank you for your time! Great article by the way! I loved it!:)

  • Do you recommend a macro lense for the canon t3, an inexperienced person needs help! Please! I love taking close ups of jumping spiders, and flowers, and insects, any suggestions?

  • Thank you so much for your kind help. I have been doing research, but I never owned a good camera, just the disposable type.LOL…But I like how I take pictures, even if it is with my small camera phone. I want to treat myself to something fun!

  • Beth, for great photos inside and out, and for sports photography, a DSLR will cover all those bases. The Canon T3 is a fine choice. The lenses you buy for the camera are equally as important as the camera body.

    You’ll find information about DSLR lenses in these two articles:

    DSLR lens types

    DSLR lens uses

  • I wanted to get a dslr canon t3 rebel. But it will be my first camera. I need great shutter speed, for action, stabilization, and video would be nice. I don’t want to spend good money to be disappointed. I want to take excellent pictures outdoor, indoors, and I love sports. Please help!

  • If your camera is set to auto ISO, turn it off and select your own ISO. Depending on the lighting in the room, you can safely set it to ISO 1600 for the best image quality (though it doesn’t do badly at higher ISO numbers, say between 3200 and 6400). Saying that, try to keep the ISO as low as practical.

    Adjust the white balance according to the lighting in the room. You can usually tell on the LCD is the white balances renders pleasing colors. This article gives you some tips about white balance and mixed lighting.

    Again, depending the about lighting, you may want to use center-weighted or spot metering. Here are some tips about Concert Photography.

  • Hi, I’m am taking photos tonight of a band that will be indoors. I’m guessing the light will be poor and I dont have an external flash. I was wonderng what I should set my Nikon D5100 too?

  • pooh, I think Sony Alpha cameras are a fine choice. Entry level ones made in the past year or two have a lot of useful features, and include image stabilization. They make a number of DSLR and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

    You can learn a lot about Sony lenses at the Lensrental site.

  • pooh, think about the types of photos you’ll take most. There are so many lenses, and none are perfect for everything. Most kit lenses come in the 18-55mm range, a useful range but not long enough if you want to take telephoto shots. Remember, though, most DSLRs have a focal lens multiplier, so a 55mm lens on a camera with a 1.6 flm is the equivalent of an 88mm lens.

    These articles will give you insights about the types and uses of lenses:

    Lens uses

    Lens types

  • cont… I’m a beginner to dslr cameras so I’m not sure which one is good for me.. my budget is $ 1000- 1500.

    what do you think about sony alpha range cameras and if I want to buy sony alpha range… which one do you think good for me?

  • Gail thank you again. I want to know one more thing. I want to buy only one lens cause I have to learn it. Therefore, can you tell me which lens is good (very useful zoom range for many types of scenes)? i’m not familiar with it!

  • pooh, all dslrs today have excellent image stabilization. Canon and Nikon have in-lens IS; some manufacturer’s offer in-body IS, so you can use most any lens on the body and the image will be stabilized. The reason I personally prefer lens IS is because it steadies the view as you look through the viewfinder, particularly useful when using telephoto lenses. Here is an article that describes in-camera vs. in-lens image stabilization. Be aware that some older lenses of the same zoom length do not have IS, so make sure to ask before buying a lens, or a camera sold with a kit lens. For example, the Canon EF-S 55-250mm lens comes in a non-image stabilized version as well as one with IS.

  • thank you very much for your help Gail! I would like to know which camera is good at image stabilization?

  • pooh, I think any of the Canon rebel cameras will be less complex than the other cameras you mention, yet have enough flexibility to use more advanced features when you are ready. Saying this, Nikon’s entry level cameras such as the Nikon D3100 have features like their scene recognition system that takes the hassle out of capturing photos.

  • Hi Gail,

    I’m looking for DSLR cameras and I’m not sure about which one is good from these…NIkon D90, D7000, D5100, D5000, Cannon 550D, 600D, 50D, 60D. I’m new to DSLR cameras so can you help me? I love photograpy. I know Nikon D90 is a complex one. I want to learn… but I don’t want to go for too much complexity.

  • Amy, it’s mpossible to make recommendations without knowing what type of camera you want, size, amount of money you have to spend, with or without interchangeable lenses, etc. Many Sony cameras have an effective Sweep Panorama mode, so you may want to take a look at some Sony models. We feature various types of cameras in this section, and many have shutter speed settings that you can adjust.

  • Hello Gail Bjork,
    I’m looking for a nice compact digital camera that has the ability to change the shutter speed and can take panorama photos. I want to adjust the shutter speed to be able to take photos at night, letting in light and movement for up to 20 or 30 seconds. If you have any suggestions for me I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks for your time.

  • I never realized that the closer action is to your digital camera, the faster the shutter speed is needed. Thank you for this great and other helpful tips. I just got a digital camera that lets me adjust shutter speed so I’m anxious to give it a try.

  • I’m looking for a digital camera for the purpose of taking photo’s of my dogs. I show them so need a camera that will take a good photo at dawn and dusk, and in all weather conditions (sunny, overcast, raining etc), indoors and outdoors. Some of the pictures will be of dogs standing still, but I also need to capture the dogs movement when going around the ring. I don’t want something as bulky as a DSLR and want something relatively basic as I’m a beginner, plus something in the $300-$400 range. Any suggestions?

  • I m in a search of a camera which ranges from $250 to $350 and the thing is that i dont require more zoom but want a nice quality… i am totally confused with the no. of model available in the market some say should go with nikon some with sony, canon kodak, respectively …. i was thinking about getting a Sony H50 but it has only 9.1 megapixels which fits in my range and the advantage which i get in it is it has a flexible lcd + a view finder … which will be a point of advantage …. so how can we judge the company which is the best … and also wanted to know as one of my friend told me that the results from the 9.1 mega pixels of the same will be much better then the 14.1 pixels of 16 of the current cameras whether it be nikon or even sony w570 etc… so wanted to clearify this idea also …

  • Was wondering I would like to get a camera that has fast shutter frame rate and is durable to extreme conditions, someone one mention me to get Canon 1D but not sure if I can effort it. Is there a camera similar to the Canon 1D that is a reasonable price to get?

  • hola. Me gustaria que me ayudaran con mi problema, quiero comprar una camara y no me decido entre la NIKON d3100 ó la SONY NEX-5.  La quiero para tomar fotogafias de alta velocidad en el deporte de la charreria al igual que tomar videos en HD. espero que me puedan ayudar. gracias

  • Luan, I highly recommend you do a feature search at dpreview. You can enter the perimeters you’re looking for and then search the results. An entry level DLSR may be your best option if you’re looking for a camera with a bulb setting. Even a camera a few years old would be suitable (plus be less expensive). Some compact digital cameras have long exposure modes.

  • Hi Gail,i’m from brazil,and i saw your site on the responses related to “camera with long shutter speed”

    i need a camera to do some light paintings,and i’m looking for a cam with minimal shutter of 60 secs (or bulb mode) but my money it’s really short,can u give me a referral?

    thanks,and cheers from brazil! 🙂 (sorry my bad english)

  • Hanna, if you do a Google search, you’ll find a lot of information on shooting macro with a D90. Here’s an article you’ll also find helpful. Take you time learning various techniques. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with some beautiful photos.

  • Hi i’m doing level 1 photography and i need your help with this assignment? My chosen idea for this project is called “Exciting time” with macro, because I like to take photos of objects close up. I am a beginner overall and especially with macro lenses. At the moment it’s a case of trial and error but I find that I have to be quite far away from the subject to get into focus. I didn’t have much experience when it comes to this type of photography.
    I starting to work  on flower and still life. I thought leaf skeleton is exciting.
    My camera D90, SB600 Flash, and tripod. also Photoshop!
    any advice ?


  • Gautam, Both cameras you’re considering are fine. Remember, when you buy a DSLR you’re buying into a system, so you may want to see what lenses and accessories are available for each camera before buying.

  • hi, m using sony h20, i fully work on manual mode, so now m goin thru a big confusion that is i want to buy a DSLR, so please help me choose one between these two Nikon D90 and Sony Alpha A33(SLT). it would be a great help. Thank You.

  • Kole, You’ll catch on. Take your time. I usually recommend you learn about things as you need them. Though not as advanced as DSLRs, there are several things in common between them and compact digital cameras. If you don’t understand a term or technique, do a search at Digicamhelp. We have lots of information on both compacts and DSLRs. Of course, if you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  • HEH, I guess my technical terms like “little zeros” weren’t as useful as I thought they might be 😉
    Yes, the number would say 250 or 2000 etc, it’s just that the zeros are smaller than the numbers so I didn’t know if that meant something in itself.
    I’m slowly catching on to this.  Thank you so much for your help!  I’ve got something to kind of play around with now! 🙂

  • Kole, I’m not sure what you mean by getting numbers with little zeros. The readout for shutter speed for 1/250 a second should be 250. Here is an example at 1/125 second. When shooting in low light, you may need to up the ISO to prevent camera shake, or open the aperture wider. If light is very low, you may have to use a tripod and trigger the shutter release button with the self-timer or remote. This article may provide some insights.

  • OH!!  Sorry, 1 more thing… if I were to use an external flash, would that work in continuous shooting mode, or is continuous shooting with flash simply not an option?

  • Hi!!
    So Santa brought us the D90 for Christmas and although we’re getting some great shots with it, there are some instances where I could use a little help…
    I have beein reading about shutter speed for doing action shots.  My fiance and I really want to get good at these as we’d like to get some great shots for my roller derby league.
    We are pretty new to this and I have to admit… when I am trying to set my shutter speed, I’m not sure what 1/250 of a second is on my camera.  I get numbers with little zeros beside them… if anyone can help me out and tell me what I’m looknig at and what it means, I would be incredibly grateful!
    The other question I have is for low light situations.  A flash isn’t always an option and I kind of like the way the pics look without the flash… minus all the blur.  Is there an ideal setting to try experimenting with??
    And thanks for all the great tips!!  You’ve certainly put a lot into this!

  • I need advice.  Which camera Under $500 is best for taking pictures of children?  I always missed ‘the shot’ with my old camera.  It was lost so now I am looking for something better.  I would like suggestions for Digital and SLR.


  • Lisa, catching your son in action with a digital camera costing around $200 is almost impossible. Few compact cameras in that price range come near the performance of a digital single lens reflex camera.

    I would suggest looking for a camera that has a back-illuminated CMOS sensor. They do reasonably well in low light, plus generally have faster shot-to-shot times than cameras with CCD sensors.

    You didn’t mention whether you’d be taking primarily inside or outside photos. For inside, I’d recommend something like the Canon SD4000 (about $245); for outside in good light, I’d recommend the Canon SD4500 (about $300).

    Here are some tips on photographing moving children with a compact digital camera.

  • Hello. I’m in the market for a new camera. All of the terminology is rather overwhelming. My main objective is to have a sharp, crisp photo that can catch my son in action without the “trails.” I don’t really want to spend more than $200, give or take. I’ve read several articles and comparisons, and they’ve only further overwhelmed me. I am leaning toward Canons and Nikons, but that could simply be because of ignorance. Any suggestions?
    Thank you in advance.

  • Kristi, just remember, if you don’t save a photo correctly when editing, the EXIF data will be lost…at least in the saved filed, not the original (unless you work on the original, which is not a good idea).

    btw, if you do get into photo editing, get a program that supports layers. The gold standard is Photoshop CS (very expensive) but it’s baby brother, Photoshop Elements, is a good choice. Adobe offers significant discounts to students (and teachers) and you may qualify if taking the course at school. Visit their Adobe Education Store

    There are free photo editing programs that have layers too.

  • That is so brilliant, I did not realize that was contained in the data.I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your response! Thank you!

  • kristi, as far as I know, there are no scene speed measurements. The shutter speed will change depending on the lighting in the scene.

    Saying that, you can check the shutter speed (and other settings) after photos are taken by checking the EXIF data. You should be able to read the EXIF information with the software that camera with your camera. Or there are free programs to read the data. If you use Windows, right-click an image and select “Properties” to access the data.

    A few free exif viewers are listed here>>

    Enjoy your photography class!

  • Thank you for this great resource! Since you’re so knowledgeable, I wonder if you could answer a question for me. I’m taking a beginning photography class, but sadly I only have a point and shoot (GE A830). It boasts a shutter speed up to 1/2000, however except for extremely long shutter speeds (of up to 30 seconds), there is no manual option to select shutter speed. Everything is selected via scene mode.
    Do you know if there are standards, or usually scene speed measurements, utilized for specific scene modes? I can not find a comparison chart anywhere, and it is driving me bonkers – especially when my teacher said the point and click should be efficient for now, but demands measurements after I’ve clearly stated I don’t have any to go by.
    Thanks for your help!

  • Thank you Gail, that is very helpful.  I have found 3 cameras – Canon DSLR EOS 400D, Sony DSLR A200K, Olympus DSLR E450.  I am leaning towards the Sony as it is the cheapest (!) and has IS which the other 2 don’t.  It has one 18-70 mm F3.5-5.6 zoom lens included.  Will this give me a good close-up, focused picture of the eye without need for a flash? Thanks – Ingrid

  • Ingrid, I would suggest a digital single lens reflex camera, even an entry level model will do better than most current compacts. You not only need a fast shutter speed but accurate focus. Find a name brand DSLR that has the features you want and feels comfortable in your hands. If you have the money, you may want to get a better lens than the kit lens that comes with some DSLRs. If the camera you get doesn’t have in-body image stabilization, consider getting an image stabilized lens.

  • Hello – I want to take close up photos of horse’s eyes and have been told a camera with a fast shutter speed would be most suitable.  I would like a digital camera that can take a clear picture without a flash, but that could also be used for other situations.  Happy to pay for the right camera – do you have any suggestions?  Many thanks.

  • Hey I recently bought a canon SX130 IS. I am unsure,does ithave  image stability??? Does it do fast continuous??? If so how fast can I get them to go???

  • Gail,

    Thanks for your quick response!  We will definitely look at the Canon SD4000.  Thanks for the tips on photographing children also.  My wife really loves the picture quality of the Lumix so her only question to me was “Is the Canon comparable in picture quality”?

  • Jeff, If you don’t need a long zoom, consider the Canon SD4000. It has a back lit illuminated CMOS sensor that does well in low light when compared to many other compacts with small sensors. A CMOS sensor is generally faster too. The SD4000 has a fast 2.0 lens at wide angle, so it lets more light onto the sensor at that aperture, enabling faster shutter speeds to help freeze the action. Of course, the best kind of camera is probably a DSLR, but it’s bigger and bulkier and certainly not for everyone.

    Here are a few tips about photographing moving children with a compact camera that your wife may find useful.

    As to your TV, have you tried connecting the camera to the TV with the AV cables that came with the camera? You may have to switch the camera to playback mode for them to work.

  • Gail,
     First off; thank you for your feedback.  I have read through your comments section and researched some of the aforementioned models.  I am currently looking for a camera for my wife.  We currently have a Panasonic Lumix.  She loves the picture quality but with three children her constant complaint is the Lumix is too slow.  Her moment of opportunity for a smile is usually gone in an instant and their heads quickly turn or their eyes have closed.  So with that I am looking for the fastest of the fast to catch those precious two year old moments.  I have looked at the Sony WX5 but am not interested in the 3D technology.  Is this the fastest of the compacts currently?

    Also I have a Samsung TOC LCD tv and would love to view the pics on the unit.  Currently I can never get my SD card from the Lumix to show up on the screen.  Just me I guess.

    Thanks in advance.

  • My mum is looking for a new digital camera. She currently has a Fuji something or other with a nice zoom lense. But her biggest complaint is that it takes forever to take the shot. So when her grandkids are running around, or a butterfly is on her daylilies, she wants to capture it before it’s too late. Right now, when she takes the picture, she has a whole few seconds before it takes the picture.

    Any recommendations for something affordable, that she can go ahead and get those necessary shots?
    Thank you!

  • nikki, we don’t generally recommend cameras but if you’re looking for a small, compact digital camera that is a bit peppy, look for one with a back-illuminated CMOS sensor, such as found on the Canon sd4000. It shoots at 3.7 shots per second, which is pretty fast for a compact camera. If you take pictures primarily of children, also consider a camera that does well in low light. We’ve written about some of them here.

  • I am looking at getting a sony cybershot w330 or a cannon  powershot sd1300 any suggestions on which is better. I will mostly be taking pictures of my kids and just everyday life.  I currently have a nikon  coolpix and it just does not take the picture quick enough, I am always missing shots.

  • Heather, newer compact digital cameras that have Back-illuminated CMOS sensors generally have faster shot-to-shot times than compact cameras without them. When shopping for a digital camera, ask to see models with a CMOS sensor. Check the camera specifications for a model that has a fast continuous shooting mode and/or a fast autofocus mode. Look for terms like High-speed Consecutive Shooting and High Speed Autofocus. Manufactures such as Sony, Panasonic and Casio make compact cameras with these features.

  • my mother is looking for a small digital camera that she can carry around with her when she travels.  She would of course like a good quality but isnt looking for a professional type.  The important factor to her is having a camera that doenst have a long recovery time in between pictures.  The current camera she has takes nice pitures but it takes forever to get ready to take a second shot.  Sometimes she wants to take multiples picture quick as to not lose the moment but isnt wanting to use the 3 picture burst mode.  What should we be looking for in a camera to reduce this “down time”?


  • Pradyumna, I apologize that I evidently missed your 11/17 post. My answer is probably way too late but, for the record, if I were getting a superzoom, I’d get the Panasonic FZ100, with the full understanding that like the majority of superzooms, if may not do so well in low light at high ISO numbers.

  • kristal, please clarify which SX camera as there a two available with 14 mp: SX30 or the SX210. Each is quite different so it would be helpful to know the exact model number.

  • I am looking at the Canon SX  14 MP Digital Camera. My husband has been disappointed with the point and shoot camera and it’s poor shutter speed. Will this be better for shutter speed than a traditional point and shoot? We just want to capture kiddos and other life events.

  • Hannah, though you have a very capable camera, you don’t have a very fast lens. I’m assuming you’re taking inside shots.

    Make sure you shoot near the widest angle so more light hits the sensor; you can always crop closer to the subject when editing. Also raise the ISO so you get a faster shutter speed to help prevent camera shake. For action shots, using a tripod may be useless if the subject moves around a lot. Make sure Image Stabilization is enabled. Shooting RAW will help if you encounter white balance problems, but shooting high quality JPEGs may give you a bit more speed. Make sure you have a high speed memory card. For some shots, try continuous shooting mode.

  • Gail, to me the link is still not visible…. And please tell me whether FZ100 is the best super zoom compact-digicam, presently in the market, or not…. I am very eager to get that one.

  • Hello,  I am looking for shooting the picture of dancing. I have never done this before. so i want to start out with something easy to use. My camera is a  Nikon D90. Lenses 18-105mm.
    any advice ? I only got tripod. My teacher want to get some good action photo of dance.

  • ladybug, if you have more questions, don’t hesitate to ask. For what it’s worth, I’m trying to decide between the Canon and the Pany FZ100. I’ve owned superzooms by both manufacturers and was very happy with each.

  • ok gail I found it….awesome    thank you…lol still dont know what most of it means but with a little research i might

  • I think any name-brand dslr made in the last couple of years would be a good choice, so go by what you can afford and what camera is available in your area. A dslr will give you a lot of versatility and, overall, is has better performance than a compact camera. The main drawback is the size and weight.

    One of the most important things to consider, IMHO, is image stabilization, either in the camera body or in lenses. The very cheap dslrs available today typically do not include image stabilization.

    In addition to the dslrs you’re considering, take a look at the Canon Rebel XS. It has favorable reviews, and a high rating by users at Amazon. Whatever camera you buy, make sure it feels good in the hands.

    You may find this article helpful, which discusses the pros and cons of a DSLR vs. a compact camera.

  • nikon cool pix L110
    canon powershot sx130-IS
    kodak easyshare z981
    fujifilm s1800
    well, now there are four possibilites and therefore, I’m even more lost
    all help(comment and/or suggestions) are needed
    Thank you

  • Hi, me again 🙂
    After Iv’e searched quite a bit, and since I’m (well- she is) into a camera that will have low shot-to-shot-time and good quality- i was thinking- maybe after all i will try buying a DSLR camera…
    So now my Question is: what would be the cheapest DSLR camera (including\in-total-with) & lens that i can get?
    I’ve considered Sony Alpha A230L Black 10MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm lens Plus (2) Sandisk 4GB SDHC Card – because i saw it for around 350, or maybe i should go for a used DSLR like this one:

    Canon EOS 6.3MP Digital Rebel Camera (Body Only), + a set of lens…
    Pleaaase tell me what you think… are those the best+cheapest DSLR out there for begginer on a low budget?
    will those two, or any other DSLR, be anyways BETTER than most plain point&shoot on the same budget (200 up to 350$)?
    Thanks again in advance Gail.

  • Yoel, the SX120 and 130 are about the same. The SX130 has a wider zoom, but the SX120 has a faster lens. Neither has a great shot-to-shot time.

    I think your best bet would be a compact camera with a CMOS sensor. The sensor is small like most compacts but is optimized for better low light performance. In addition, CMOS sensors provide faster shot-to-shot time than CCD sensors.

    I don’t know much at the Casio but it has a CMOS sensor and a 4 FPS continuous mode.

    Take a look at the cameras in this article that have CMOS sensors. One might be perfect for your girlfriend even if it makes your wallet a bit lighter than originally planned.

  • EON, There are so many variables to consider. From what I understand, the exposure time for light graffiti is typically between 10 seconds to an hour. If you can’t find a compact that fits your budget and exposure time requirement, you may want to look at a used DSLR that has a bulb setting, not to mention a large sensor that will do much better in low light than a compact.

  • hi all im looking for a super cheap camera with a super slow shutter speed like 20sec to have a go at ”light graffiti” (google it) i have a camera already for doing proper photos but max speed is a second so really the cheaper the better. any idies?

  • Hi Gail,
    First I wanna say it’s really great of you to help out and tip us all, that’s very nice of you =)
    I’m somewhat of newbie to photography world and i’m interested in buying a camera- for my girlfriend! her old Sony broke and she really needs one. thing is- right now she’s into make-up artist stuff, and i’d want to buy her a camera as a gift (her bday is coming up real soon!! )
    What she wants\needs is a camera that must take pictures fast! without long processing time, so it must must must have short shot-to-shot time. another thing, i think she could use a good low light camera capabilities.  And of course- picture quality must be great! Now since my budget is kinda limited [more towards the 200- $$] i’ve checked out few [using’ search engine],. one camera that seemed very good was Casio Exilim
    EX-FH100- i found it for 230$ and with mostly good reviews, but also some bad reviews.. so im not sure about it at all. what do u think? Another camera that i’ve actually been eyeballing for a while now is…. are: Canon PowerShot SX120 IS and the SX130 IS.
    from what i see the difference between the two is mostly about the video, sensor (tiny difference right?) and zoom capabilities.. am I correct?
    will the Canon PowerShot SX120 IS be good for my requested needs or is the SX130 much better? Or maybe i need to go with another camera, for my fast-show-to-shot needs?
    I hope u could reply as to those 3 cameras i’ve mentioned (in particularly Canon’s)(I can get the SX120 for 50$ less then the SX130- this is why im insisting to find out how critical the quality\needs difference is).
    I hope i didn’t write\blab too much, i do that sometimes , “that’s what she said” 😛
    Again,  thank you very much in Advance!!! And have a Happy Thanks-giving =)

  • Holly, if there was a camera that could give you a “great picture no matter what the setting or subject,” we’d all own it!

    If you don’t mind the size, a DSLR offers the most versatility. A DSLR can provide the best quality in a variety of lighting conditions due to it’s large sensor; they have faster speed than most compact cameras. You also have the option of buying interchangeable lenses. I think you mean the Nikon D90; it is a fine DSLR. For white balance, you will have to learn to adjust the settings when necessary.

    You may find this article helpful: Why buy a DSLR.

    Whatever camera you get, take time to become familiar with it’s settings and features to get the best out of it.

  • Hi
    For  christmas I would like a camera that takes great pics in flourescent lighting( like my sons concerts at school) and also one that has a high shutter speed. I have 3 sons and I need a camera that can catch them quick before the moment is gone!!! I am considering the canon D90 but not sure is that is the way to go.  All in all I want a camera that will give me a great picture no matter the settng or the subject!!!   Thanks Holly

  • Sydney, I recommend you buy an entry-level DSLR manufactured within the last few years. Nikon or Canon DSRLs are popular and well-regarded. Just make sure you get a lens or camera with Image Stabilization, which will come in quite handy if you shoot sports.

    The most expensive part of DSLR photography will be the lenses. Both Canon and Nikon have decent inexpensive “kit” lenses. They are a good starting place and, if you ever really get into it, you can buy a more expensive lens in the future.

  • Hi Gail,

    I am 16 years old and very interested in photography but i dont have much expierence and i am hoping to buy a camera but i dont know what one to get any suggestions?
    I just want a camera i can take some pictures of sports, and also get some expierence behind a camera. My budget is around 700 dollars.

  • Nia, just want to make sure we understand each others terminology. The lower the number (eg. 4 seconds) the slower the shutter speed. If you want to capture motion such movement of a waterfall, you’ll need to use a slow shutter speed. If you use a fast shutter speed (eg. 1/4000th second), you will freeze the action. Here is brief explanation of the effects of varying shutter speeds.

    Here are the shutter speed specs for your camera.

    Auto and Program mode: 1/4-1/4000sec
    Shutter priority: 30-1/4000sec
    Aperture priority: 8-1/2000sec
    Manual mode: 30-1/4000sec

    The dpreview Sony Talk Forum is a great place to get help with a specific camera.

  • Hi Gail,
    I have a Sony DSC-H50 which I bought a while ago and only recently started learning on my own about using all the manual settings. However I am a little confused as it seems then when I put it on a shutter speed priority mode all I get is speed from 4 to 4000. I have been trying to use long exposure (car light trails, waterfalls etc.) but it seems my shutter is not fast enough?! Or am I wrong? I thought that the lower the number the faster the shutter speed but as I can’t have anything below 4 it looks like my camera is not able to take those kind of shots. Any advice you have for me will be much appreciated. Perhaps it’s time for me to invest in a DSLR although I hope that I won’t need to do this just yet as I would like to learn more before I move to a pro cameras. Many Thanks

  • cludia, For digital cameras in that price range, some of the “fastest” cameras come with a CMOS back-illuminated sensor. They are 10 MP or higher. Don’t rule out a 10 MP sensor because they tend to do better in low light. And don’t underestimate the importance of good low light capability when photographing moving children.

    Compact cameras are not fast by DSLR standards, but some do better than others. Take a look at some of these low light compact cameras that have CMOS sensors. The fastest of the group is the Sony WX5 with a Burst Mode of approx 10 fps at 12.2MP (Maximum 10 shots). It has a 5X zoom. The Fujifilm f300EXR has a 15X zoom but slower Continuous Mode at full resolution (but faster at reduced resolution).

  • Hi I am interested in fast speed camara with stabilizer, that can capture my very fast baby. A camara that has over 12-14 MP and a good zoom. Easy to use and compact
    Budget up to 400 any recommendations?

  • Hi Gail,
    Thanks for your advice. I need to know if the complete performance of Panasonic is up to the mark of Canon and Nikon. Also I am interested in HD video and night-mode photography.

  • john, your best bet is a digital single lens reflex camera that has a bulb setting. A bulb setting keeps the shutter open as long as you press the shutter release. You will probably also want to get a remote control and, of course, a tripod. Some newer models can perform this function through the USB or Firewire cable.

    One of the advantages of using a DSLR is that has a larger sensor and does much better in low light, keeping noise at a minimum. Even some entry level DSLRs have bulb settings.

    As an aside, some high-end compact cameras can keep the shutter open for 15 seconds, such as the Canon G11, but have no bulb setting. Also check out some Mircro Four-Thirds models.

  • was just wondering about shutter speed. is their a digital camera that i can control shutter speed for long periods of time, like half hour and such? I would like to start taking night sky shots. any advise?

  • Pradyumna, off the three superzooms you mention, the Canon SX30 has the slowest continuous drive at .6 frames per second. The Nikon is 10 fps, and the Sony is 10 fps (but only 10 images at a time.

    Another superzoon to consider is the Panasonic FZ100. It is the fastest (11 fps).

    I believe any of these cameras are a fine choice. Get one with other features you want most in addition to high speed.

  • Hi,
    Please suggest me a compact digi-cam among canon PowerShot SX30 Is , Nikon CoolPIX P100 and Sony CyberShot DSC HX1. I am interested in Super Zoom feature with high capturing speed. Please suggest me one.

  • The SD4500 isn’t out yet though I suspect it will be in a few weeks. The SD4000 should be available. If not in a local store, it is available at places like Amazon.

    The SD4000 has dropped in price twice since I first purchased it. Though this is a comparison between the SD4000 and S90, you may find it helpful. If they give you a hard time returning it, remind them that they misinformed you about the fast continuous shutter speed that you requested. Yours is 0.7 fps and that’s about as sloooooow as you can go for a current camera.

  • Galty, You may also want to consider the Casio EX-FS10 which has 30 shot-per-second high-speed burst shooting (6 MP images). It has a short focal length with an aperture range of F/2.8 to 7.9. You’ll need very good lighting when shooting at the long end of the zoom.

  • Galty, It’s unfortunate that the salesperson helping you didn’t take time to look at the camera specifications. Just because a camera has continuous mode doesn’t mean it’s fast.

    In the Canon brand, style and size there are two newer models to consider: The IXUS 300HS/SD4000IS or the IXUS 1000HS/SD4500IS. They both have a Backlit CMOS sensor, not a CCD. The CMOS sensor gives better performance in low light but also takes faster shot-to-shots. For example, your camera takes continuous photos at 0.7 fps, the other two shoot continuously at 3.7 fps.

    All three cameras have different zoom and aperture ranges, so take that into consideration before buying and get the one that best suits your shooting style.

    Take a look at these two cameras and, if you have more questions, let us know.

  • I was looking to buy a camera with a fast continous shutter speed to capture things like skiing and rugby etc. i bought the canon IXUS210 – the guy told me it had the continous setting i was after but ive tried it out and its very slow, is there a way i can change this (i cant see anything in the info booklet), or is there a better camera out there around about the same size for that type of thing?

  • Vivek, yes it is possible to blur the background, which is known as decreased depth of field. Use Aperture Priority Mode and select a wide aperture. The size of the aperture affects depth of field. This page has information and a video that you’ll find helpful.

    As our depth of field quick guide points out, other techniques that help to decrease depth of field include using longer focal lengths (zoomed in) and getting closer to the subject.

    Generally, digital single lens reflex cameras do a better job at controlling depth of field, but by using a combination of the three techniques, you should be able to blur the background.

  • hey how can i blur the background of a photo ?? like someone is standing and i just want to blur his background . i have a canon sx120IS and is that possible in my camera ?

  • Thanks for sharing, I have to try this on my Nikon E4500.  Last week I took a full-day course in a local community college and the instructor mentioned similar technique too.  Can’t wait to go to Yosemite next week.

  • Forgot to mention. Even a basic compact camera is high tech, and can be quite complicated initially to learn to use. I don’t think learning to use a DSLR is any more difficult but it does take time to learn about each lens, it’s strengths and weaknesses, and to find its “sweet spot.” You will find helpful information about DSLRs in our Buying Guide section. Here’s lots of easy-to-understand information about DSLR Lenses and their uses.

    I’ve concentrated on DSLRs because that is what you mentioned. But there are many other types of digital cameras. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have further questions.

  • Bernadette, for action and sports shots, you are wise to consider a DSLR. While they are heavier and may you require a couple of lenses, their flexiblity, speed and high-iso performance will certainly outpace almost any compact digital camera currently on the market. For a smaller camera that takes interchangeable lenses, consider a micro-four thirds.

    I have an entry level dslr (Canon XSi), use image stabilized kit lenses and have been very pleased with the results. 90% of the time, I shot in P Mode, a fully automatic mode that lets me change basic settings such as white balance and Exposure Compensation. There newest camera in this line is the Rebel T2i, which has an ISO range of ISO 100-6400 and 3.7 fps continuous shooting.

    Other popular brands for entry level DSLRs are made by Nikon, Sony and Olympus.

    If you buy an older model with the kit lens, make sure the lens is Image Stabilized. Some DSLRs, like those made by Olympus, have IS built into the body.

  • To use the chart you simply select a certain aperture and shutter speed combination. For instance, let’s use 1/15s at f/5.6. Notice on the chart the orange-colored f/stops run from f/1.4 to f/22. Put your finger over on the f/5.6 position (5.6). Just below there you’ll see the shutter speed of 1/15s (15). Put your finger on the shutter speed of 15. Move it to the left one space to 30 or 1/30s. You’ll notice that above the 30 is an orange 4. The 4 represents f/4. Now this is important—f5.6 at 1/15s is exactly the same exposure as f/4 at 1/30s.

    If you follow this out to the end of the chart, you’ll see that f/5.6 at 1/15s is equal to f/8 at 1/8s. Also, f/11 at 1/4s is also equal to f/5.6 at 1/15s. Any of the numbers along the top (f/stops) of the chart matched with the number below (shutter speed) is exactly the same exposure. To make this clearer, I am going to list several exposures that are exactly the same, and bring the same amount of light into the camera:

    1/250s at f/1.4
    1/125s at f/2
    1/60s at f/2.8
    1/30s at f/4

  • hi,
    I am a mother of 6 children range from 1year -15 years and I need a camera (could go for a dslr) that can take action in low light for sports and be fast on the picture for the younger kids. I am a beginner so nothing to high tech. What do you suggest I get. I am real tired of the hold down and in 5-10 sec it will take the pictures.
    Thanks for your time  

  • would love advice on an easy to use camera that will take great pictures of my grandkids, my currrent camera takes ages between pictures and so the moment is over,  So I end up posing them which I dont want to do,  also the video is useless.  Also eyesight is a problem so need a large scrren and easy to understand controls.  Gosh what a lot can anyone help? 

  • The purpose of this chart is to give examples of suggested shutter speeds for some commonly photographed subjects. How you attain the desired shutter speed depends on a number of factors such as the amount of light on a subject and aperture and, yes, ISO. Higher ISO numbers will increase shutter speed but can also increase noise.

  • The Pentax optio w30 is probably not the best camera for photographing trail lights. It doesn’t have a long exposure mode and doesn’t have any manual or semi-automatic controls. It wouldn’t hurt, though, to at least give it a try using Night scene mode. Don’t forget to use a tripod. Here’s more detailed information on this subject.

  • Hi,
    I’M going to buy my own camera and I wanted a cheap one that was good for light trail photography. I was wondering if the pentax optio w30 would be any good for light trail photography???

  • The Fujifilm s5200 has very good image quality and does a decent job in low light for a compact camera because of it’s Super CCD sensor. However, it has a very small LCD and, more importantly, lacks Image Stabilization that is useful when using a camera with a long zoom lens. Digital cameras have improved a lot and prices have come down since the x5200 came out about five years ago. Sony, Canon and Panasonic also offer superzooms. Unless you are buying used, older cameras can sometimes be more expensive than newer models.

  • Is the Fujifilm FinePix S5200  a good camera, I am looking into it but I am not sure if it is worth it. It has a shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. I think that is good but im not sure. Any suggestions?

  • The D90 has numerous shutter speeds and somehow your camera is set so they are kept very slow.

    (1/4000, 1/3200, 1/2500, 1/2000, 1/1600, 1/1250, 1/1000, 1/800, 1/640, 1/500, 1/400, 1/320, 1/250, 1/200, 1/160, 1/125, 1/100, 1/80, 1/60, 1/50, 1/40, 1/30, 1/25, 1/20, 1/15, 1/13, 1/10, 1/8, 1/6, 1/5, 1/4, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.8, 1, 1.3, 1.6, 2, 2.5, 3.2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 20, 25, 30 sec)

    For help that may not be covered fully in the manual, post some inquires at the Nikon D90 – D40 / D5000 Forum at dpreview. Some of these DSLRs are pretty complicated and other users can help you out.

  • I know about shutter speeds as I got my degree in Photo-journalism in 1970 and have been in photography ever since. However, eight years ago I retired and went travelling and have now returned to the US and bought (drumroll please) a DIGITAL camera. It’s a Nikon D-90 and while the book is quite complicated it’s the “shutter speed” thing that has me confused. The book talks about shutter speeds but all I seem to see on the camera is “6”, “3”, “25”, etc. How the heck does this translate to actual shutter speeds? Please, the book is of no help.

  • Take a look at the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS. It’s a superzoom, like the S2IS (which I owned and loved). A downside is that it won’t perform well in low light because it’s high ISO performance can’t match that of a camera with a larger sensor. The Canon G11 has a larger sensor and does better in low light than most compacts. It is not a superzoom though. Also look a tthe Sony DSC-HX that, like other cameras, has strong and weak points though it may best fit your photo-taking style.

    For best performance, though, you’ll need a DSLR. The Canon 550D probably has one of the best video modes of most digital single lens reflex cameras to date. DSLRs are fast and responsive, and do very well in low light at high ISO numbers. They are more bulky and expensive than compact cameras.

  • Hi im looking for a really good camera that i can take pictures of my family for any occasion, traveling and for CONCERTS. Something that has audio recording, good quality picture and video, alot of zoom and take pictures while recording a video and not to wait in between while taking pictures. I would like to get a canon but not sure because my 1st camera I had (Canon Powershot S2 IS) I paid 500dlls and it stop working after 4yrs 🙁 I loved that camera!!! I cant find anything similar to that one yet. I was at a basketball game took a picture and the lens got stuck and its expensive to get it fix, its just better to get a new camera and ive been searching and found alot of people complaing about the same problem… hope i can find a very good camera!!! Thanks for ur time and help

  • Take a look at the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras, such as the G1 and G2. The G10 is said to be ‘the world’s lightest interchangeable lens camera with a viewfinder.’ Olympus makes cameras in this class, such as the Pen E-P1 and E-P2. The sensors are not as large as a DSLR, but larger than the compact cameras mentioned below. They are also smaller than DSLRs.

    Another option is the Sony DSC-HX1 superzoom, which has a 28 – 560mm equiv lens and fast 10 fps continuous shooting speed. It has a standard sized sensor for a compact, but few others have the continuous shooting speed.

    For others interested in compact cameras, take a look at the Panasonic Panasonic LX3, Canon G11 or Canon s90. They have larger sensors than most compact cameras and do well in low light (though not DSLR quality). I own the s90 and really like the small size, excellent image quality and performance in a variety of lighting conditions. The focal lengths are short and are certainly not speed demons, so may not be the best for taking photos of kids moving across the court.

    There are really so many good options today, it may be worth your time to call a company like B&H Photo for some additional choices.

  • Hello,  I am looking for a camera that takes good pictures in low light (inside a gym, basketball) and fast shutter or just get the picture while kids are moving across the court. I don’t want the bulk of an SLR but will go for a non compact digital camera. Any cameras like that??
    Thanks so much for your time,

  • The Z915 gets very good reviews from users. It has a relatively fast lens across the whole zoom range. The shutter speed range is: 1/8–1/1250 sec. (auto) and 16–1/1000 sec. (S/M mode), not blazingly fast but should do well in good light. The picture quality should be fine and the camera is known for ease-of-use. Like most compact digital cameras, it will perform best in good light due to the small sensor. When light is low, shot near the widest angle because that’s where the aperture is largest and lets in more light.

  • I am buying kodak Z915 , please advice me how is this camera in term of pitcure quality as i need something in that range with fast shutter speed as wellas quality. thanks

  • Inexpensive, compact digital cameras with manual and semi-automatic controls such as Shutter Priority mode are getting more difficult to find. There are compacts with those controls, but some of them cost $300, $400 and more. Until recently, the Canon A Series cameras had manual and semi-automatic controls, such as the A570IS I owned. They usually cost around $200 and were, imho, some of the best digital cameras with controls (and good image quality) you could get for the money. They are still available to purchase new but for some reason they cost almost double to price as when they first came out. You may be able to get one used or refurbished.

  • I am looking to get a compact digital camera with a manual shutter speed adjustment control, but I’m finding it very hard to filter my search by this criteria.  Any suggestions for cheap, reliable, compact (pocket-sized) digital cameras with this feature?


  • I just want to point out that, if you’re interested in having an image stabilized lens, check the kit lens that comes with the camera. It may not have IS. If IS is an important feature to you, as it is to many photographers, you should consider purchasing the camera body and lens separately or ask that the lens be upgraded.

  • The Nikon D40x is a very fine DSLR, and it has received high praises. If the features, size, weight, ergonomics and price are right, then it is the right choice for you. Just remember when buying lenses, there is no lens motor in the body so non-AF-S/AF-I lenses must be focused manually.

  • Hummingbirds are one of the most difficult subjects to photograph in nature. For many, it is a very rewarding type of photography but be prepared to practice a lot.

    If you want to capture some blur to the wings, use a shutter speed of about 1/320 or slightly slower. You should also use a tripod. To freeze the wings, use a fast shutter speed such as 1/6000 second. Some photographers use one or two external flashes at low power settings and use a short burst of flash. To isolate the hummingbird from the background (bokeh), use a wide aperture.

    Do a internet search as there are many detailed articles on the subject that go into other things such as ISO, Continuous (Burst) mode and best focal lengths to use.

  • Depending on how you set your camera, and the lighting conditions, the actual capturing of the image will be the shutter speed that was used.

  • Shutter Speed 8 – 1/2000 seconds, in simple terms, how many seconds is that untill i actual have the picture recorded from me clicking the button, to it capturing the image…???

  • Very nice. I’m finally going to get my first camera! Maybe one day I’ll take a picture of myself.

  • Any of these cameras perform well, but it’s difficult to control shutter speed on these small cameras because they don’t offer shutter priority mode. Nikon has an interesting feature called Motion Detection, which they say “automatically controls the shutter speed and ISO settings to compensate for camera shake and subject movement reducing the chances of getting image blur.” Canon has a “kids and pets” scene mode that usually gives a fast shutter speed. However, the camera doesn’t have Image Stabilization, which I consider an important feature to help prevent blurred images from camera shake.  The Sony, according to the specs, has Aperture Priority mode that you can use to control shutter speed.  It also has Steady Shot image stabilization. 

  • Hello, I need Help.
    As a beginner Photographer I am going to buy a digicam. My friend told me that While digicam you must see SHUTTER SPEED. Then I select 3 digicams which fits to my need. Which are – Nikon coolpix L20,Sony cybershot DSC-W210 and Canon IXUS 75. Please tell me which one is best in performance and shutter speed.


    great stuff

     very useful tips and was explained well , not over complicated. Have found it useful to me as doing ncfe level 2 at the moment, has given me a better understanding of shutter speeds.

  • […] is all over the place, but hopefully it is helping a few of you. I found this really great chart at to help you understand what shutter speed you might want to use in different situations […]