It may seem like your camera is a complicated tool, but in this article, I’m going to break it down as simply as possible, the same way I wish someone would have guided me when I started.
Shutter speed control how much light you’re allowed to let in. Whenever you want to freeze movement and get sharp results, use a fast shutter speed. When you’re in a low light place or are doing cool tricks, use slow shutter speeds, but remember them at certain speeds you need a tripod or your images will look blurry. The fastest on most cameras is 1/4000, and then each slower speed after that is exactly twice as slow as the previous one.
If you are aware about aperture or ISO, feel free to switch to M (Manual) already. In this mode you have control over everything, and it’s not hard. Let’s not rush yet though. What you can do now is put your camera somewhere stable so it won’t move, and take 5-10 pictures, going from the fastest to the slowest shutter speed. Point and shoot cameras do sometimes provide such modes, but you’re probably limited and can’t control everything. So, initially start with something like 1/1000, then choose 1/500 and so on until you reach a full second. This is hands down the best way to learn!
How to operate the Shutter Speed?
- If you are using a DSLR camera, simply switch the mode dial to Tv (Time Value) on Canon, or S for Nikon (Speed). You can’t stir up anything by adjusting these values, so go ahead and start selecting random speeds and observe what happens to your photographs.
● Switch to Tv on Canon (only change the shutter speed)
● Switch to S on Nikon (only change the shutter speed)
How to deal with Blur?
- If your shutter speed is too slow while trying to click a photograph of a subject in motion, it will appear blurred.
- If your subject is static, but you still need to use a slow speed (like at night, or indoors with bad light). Then make sure you use a tripod or move as little as possible, because slow shutter speeds can also make your entire shot look blurry if your camera body is not stable enough, while clicking (some lenses comes with inbuilt Image Stabilization technology to stabilize your shot as much as possible).
- Sometimes you desire to have your moving subject sharp and bold, but everything else in the background blurred. How to do that? You need to track your subject while still taking the picture. This will “trick” your camera into thinking that the subject isn’t actually moving, because you and your subject both going at the same speed.
- Don’t choose something fast, or over 1/250, as it is simply too short and will freeze everything. Stick to 1/8 – 1/125 and adjust depending on the speed of your subject. It takes some practice, but the results are often amazing and are an excellent way of showing action.
Let’s dive deep into the Shutter Speed Cheat Sheet with an example which could guide you more effectively:
1/4000 - Extremely Fast Subjects, Sunset.
1/2000 - Freezing animals, Extreme sports, Races.
1/1000 - Speed cars, bikes, Daily sports.
1/500 - Slower sports, everyday outdoor activities.
1/250 - Kids running, passing objects.
1/125 - Minimum for freezing subjects.
1/60 - Panning faster vehicles.
1/30 - Panning slower vehicles.
1/15 - Blurring fast movement subject.
1/8 - Indoors without a flash.
1/4 - Blur slow movement.
1-30” - Fireworks, Light painting, Car trails.
Bulb - Night sky, Long exposures.