Understanding Camera Shutter Speed in Photography

In Artwork Skills, Photography Skills
Flying Bird Freeze Motion Effect

Learning how to use your camera shutter speed effectively will make the resulting image more vivid. Besides that, you would be able to capture the movement of a visible object without blur. The camera shutter speed is a component that will be open when your press the shut button, and it and will shut down automatically, but for some types of camera depend on the duration it set. In addition, if you are setting it up in bulb mode, the shutter will remain open as long as the shutter button is not pressed for the second time. Shutter Speed is one of the elements of the exposure triangle. To learn about the exposure triangle (the photography triangle) read a topic about The Concept of Camera Exposure.

The Definition of Shutter Speed

By definition, shutter speed is the time span (the length of time) when the shutter in your camera is being opened. To ease to understand, shutter speed means the time in which the sensor ‘see’ the image we are going to capture. Simply shutter speed is the time between you press the shutter button on the camera until the button returns to its standby position.

How to Set The Camera Shutter Speed

Let’s we take a look the interpretation of the concept above in setting the camera shutter speed:

If you set the shutter speed of your camera at 500, it means the time span of is 1/500 of a second (or 2 milliseconds). Yes, it’s such short. While, the time for the exposure time as long as 30 seconds, in which you will see a text: 30”

The shutter speed setting in your camera is usually in multiples of 2. So, you will see a row of time span settings like this: 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, and so on. Nowadays, almost all camera products allow 1/3 stop setting, in which the shutter speed settings are closer; 1/500, 1/400, 1/320, 1/250, 1/200, 1/160, etc.

Shutter Speed Meter

Safe Shutter Speed

To take a sharp photo, use a shutter speed that is safe. In most conditions, the rule of safe shutter speed setting is as long as 1/60 or faster. So, the resulting image will be sharp and be safe from blurry (out of focus). You can get around this safe limit using a tripod or using an Image Stabilization feature.

The other shutter speed safe limits are a shutter speed setting that is greater than the length of your camera lens. So, if you use a 50mm lens, you should set a minimal shutter speed at 1/60 sec. If you use a 17mm camera lens, you should set the shutter speed at 1/30 sec.

Shutter Speed Setting to Freeze the Motion

If you want to use a shutter speed setting to freeze the motion, you should set the shutter speed as high as possible, until it can freeze the movement of an object. The faster an object moves you want to freeze, the faster the shutter speed you need. To freeze the motion of a flying bird, for example, use the Shutter Priority mode and set the shutter speed at 1/1000 second (ideally the ISO speed set to auto option). So, the result will be sharp. If you notice, most sports photographers love using S/Tv mode.

To Get a Motion Effect on Photo

You can also set your camera shutter speed at a certain number to get an intentional blur of resulting photo. This kind of blur is the motion effect of a photo. If you want to snapshot a moving object, you can intentionally slow down the shutter speed to show the effect of the movement. Make sure you include at least one quiescent object as an anchor of the photo.

To improve your basic photography skills, learn also the other two elements of exposure triangle, namely ISO Speed and Aperture. If you have skills in photography and have other knowledge about camera shutter speed, you can share it on this website through the guest writing session.

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