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shutter speed

Tutorial to learn how to adjust the shutter speed on a camera 

What is shutter speed?

Shutter speed is the time the shutter stays open to let light into the camera.  (adjust the shutter speed)

To make it simple, just imagine that you are in a dark room with the shutters closed. Then open them for a few seconds and close them. You just took a picture! That’s exactly what your camera does when you press the shutter release

The shutter is therefore the mechanism that will open and close letting a certain amount of light pass into the camera. 

Photo edited in Lightroom. [Click here to learn how to use Lightroom.] 


The speed on you camera 

The carmera display the speed like this: 


Shutter Speed Scale: 

1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 second, 2 seconds, etc. 

Fast speed = less light ===================> Slow speed = more light 


Speed is expressed in seconds and fraction of seconds (example 1/500 sec) So, between two scale values twice as much light enters your camera. On today’s reflex the times can be set from 30s to 1/8000s. 

In the auto mode, P mode, and A mode the camera automatically calculates the speed. If there is a lot of light, your camera will automatically choose a fast speed (1/1000 for example). On the contrary, If it is dark, it will choose a much slower speed (1/50 for example). 

In this second case, an even slower speed (for example 30 seconds) is necessary. For a speed higher than 30 seconds you must use the bulb mode as seen in the tutorial “how to use the bulb mode”. In all cases if the shutter speed is less than 1/50 sec, there is a strong risk of motion blurring. As a result, the tripod will be mandatory to obtain a perfect photograph. 


Photo edited in Lightroom. [Click here to learn how to use Lightroom.] 


How to adjust the shutter speed 

To adjust the shutter speed you will need to set your camera in the S or M mode. In fact, the S mode for “speed” (or TV for Canon cameras) is a semiautomatic mode that allows you to change the shutter speed by letting the camera automatically make all other adjustments. 

In addition, the M-Mode for “manual” will allow you to adjust all the settings of your camera. 

Setting the shutter speed will have two effects on a photograph: 

  • the amount of light. The longer the shutter speed (the shutter stays open for a long time), the more light will enter your camera. The faster the shutter speed, the less light will enter your camera.
  • to freeze the movement. If you want your subject to be clean, the shutter speed must be high enough to freeze the movement. The faster your subject moves, the faster the speed must be to freeze the movement.

To help you, here are some speed indications with correct brightness: 

  • 8 seconds: a fireworks display
  • 1/200th sec: a person walking or moving slowly
  • 1/500th sec: a jogger
  • 1/1000th sec: a cyclist
  • 1/2000th sec: a bird in flight or an insect.

Photo edited in Lightroom. [Click here to learn how to use Lightroom.] 


Now you know how to adjust the shutter speed, your photographs will never be blurred anymore! 


The Sport mode on your camera – what you mainly need to know  

When you are in the Sport mode, the fastest possible speed will always be taken into account depending on the lighting when shooting. 


Shutter speed – Conclusion

So it is the shutter that defines the exposure time, the time the sensor will stay open to capture the image. If it stays open for a long time, your photo will get a lot of light and you camera will record all the movements it sees, so you will run a high risk of blurring. 

In effect there is no magical technique or recipe to get a good exposure. So this depends on the ambient light, the amount of sunlight, or if it is dark. 

In other words, the best way to get a good exposure is to practice in different conditions and see the capabilities of your camera and materials. 

Then the two other parameters that affect the exposure of your photos are the opening of the diaphragm and the ISO sensitivity. (These settings are often called the exposure triangle). 


Now you know how to adjust the shutter speed, give us your opinion, and share your experience in the comments. 


And if you think that this article helped you, share it! 

Have a nice photoshoot! 

Lightroom and Photoshop Tutorials 

December 28, 2019

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