The Complete Guide To Camera Shutter Speed in Photography

Camera Shutter speed is one of the elements of the exposure triangle that enables us to obtain the appropriate lighting for each image which consists of the aperture, ISO and shutter speed.

What is the shutter?

The shutter is the element that controls how long the light reaches the sensor. It consists of two curtains, the first to open it and the second to close it. During the movement of these curtains, there is a space between them that allows light to pass through. Depending on the speed at which these blinds move, more or less light will enter the sensor.

This video explains better the demonstrates of the process:

What is the Shutter speed?

Shutter speed is simply the time the camera’s shutter is open and thus the time the light reaches the sensor.

This way we set the percentage of light that will enter the sensor and control the exposure.

When does more light enter the sensor?

Of course, the slower the shutter speed, the more light entered, and vice versa, the faster the shutter speed, the less light entered.

Creative effects using shutter speed

With the shutter speed method, we can create creativity and add movement to our photos, as a general rule without going into detail:

Fast shutter speed: over 1/60 second. It is through them that we obtain a freezing or drastic reduction of movement.

Slow shutter speed: Do not exceed 1/60 sec. We get images with motion, or moving parts in a static atmosphere, that give us a feeling of movement. Slow shutter speed is also called long exposure.

Method of knowing the appropriate speed in order to obtain a static image

Of course, when we go down to 1/60 second speed without using a fixed stand for the camera, there is always the possibility of getting a blurry image, and this is annoying in case you want to get a higher still image. For this there is a rule that can be worked out for obtaining still images. It is the choice of speed according to the focal length of the lens. If our lens has a focal length of 200mm then we will set the shutter speed at 1/200 second, if the lens has a focal length of 150mm then we will set the shutter speed at 1/150 second and so on.

Also Read: Learn long exposure in photography step by step

The variation uses of shutter speed

The fast shutter is used to photograph objects that move very quickly, so that they appear steadily in the image, for example when photographing cars on a racetrack, when photographing flying birds, or when photographing a bullet that penetrates an object.

As for the slow shutter, it is used when a large amount of light is required, as in night landscapes and galaxies, to introduce a larger amount of light. A tripod of the camera must be used here to avoid vibration.

The slow shutter is also used to show movement in the image, as in photographing a drawing in light, or to show the movement of clouds, or smooth the movement of water in natural images.

Shutter speed is measured in seconds, the speeds in the camera are 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/60, 1/30, 1/1, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 ″, and the symbol (“) denotes full seconds.

1/60 is the shortest time to hold the camera by hand, so if you use a slow shutter speed like 1/30 or 1/15 without a camera stand, image flicker will appear, so don’t use a slow shutter when photographing people.

camera shutter


It refers to the size of the aperture that allows light to pass through, so the greater the aperture size, the greater the amount of light allowed to enter the camera, and the smaller the aperture, the less light is shone on the camera sensor.

Aperture is measured with the symbol F, which is a fractional number, so the higher the number indicates a narrow lens aperture and less light, and the lower the number indicates a larger aperture and more light.

The grades in the lens are f / 1.4, f / 2, f / 2.8, f / 4, f / 5.6, f / 8, f / 11, f / 16, f / 22, f / 32.

Be aware that the number f / 1.4 is greater than f / 2 and gives off almost twice as much light because it is the next degree (you’ll also find radii in a camera like f / 1.8).

The effect from the aperture is the depth of field in the image (DOF – Depth of Field).

The depth

Depth of field is the distance inside the image in which focus is effective, the smaller the aperture, the greater the size of the depth of field, and in this case the degree of the aperture is large, such as f / 11, f / 16, and this is used in photographing natural appearances to make the whole scene in focus.

If the size of the aperture increases, the depth of field decreases and the focus area becomes narrow, and in this case we use a degree such as f / 1.4, f / 1.8, f / 2.0. This is used in photographing people, flowers, and animals to isolate the background and make it blurry to distract it and make the subject in the image only the focus of the image. It is also used in bokeh photography when lights are placed in the background, so they appear as bright spots with geometric shapes that take the same shape as the lens blades.

Not all lenses have large apertures, so the greater the aperture, the higher the price and size, usually the lens that comes with the camera has a maximum aperture of f / 3.6, and it cannot manufacture complete isolation in portrait photography, so a special lens is purchased that can make suitable f / 1.8 insulation , F / 2.4.

Camera ISO sensitivity:

The ISO is a number that indicates how sensitive the camera is to light, so the lower the sensitivity of the camera to light, the less light we get, and the more sensitive the camera to light, we get more light, the degrees of ISO are 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800 And between each degree and degree is the amount of twice the amount of light, for example a degree 200 allows the double amount of light to pass through 100 degrees.

The effect of the ISO is the noise in the image Noise or Grain, and the higher the ISO degree, the more noise it has. You may have noticed this problem when you photograph with the mobile at night without a flash, the image appears blurry, unlike daytime photography, because the mobile compensates for the lack of light by raising the ISO automatically.

Try to avoid using ISO to avoid noise in the image and try to compensate for light by shutter speed and aperture (usually the lowest ISO levels are 100, 200, 400, 800).

ISO is used in night-lighting conditions when we cannot use long exposure, such as photographing galaxies, and the professional cameras allow imaging in high ISO degrees without the appearance of high noise in the images.

Examples of shutter speed

For example, if we are using a toy car, in all cases it will be in motion. We’ll see how the shutter speed affects the result:

In the first image, it was taken at a shutter speed of 1/100, i.e. 0.01 seconds, the shutter speed is fast, as it enabled us to freeze the speed of the car, and you look at an image that looks like the car is parked:

camera shutter

The second image, taken at a speed of 1/30, i.e. 0.3 seconds, we can estimate that the car is in motion, but it appears clearly enabling us to know the body of the car in addition to that the image gives us the feeling of the presence of movement in the image:

camera shutter

As for the last image, it was taken at a speed of 1/8 or 0.125 seconds, the speed is very slow, as the car turned into an unknown object:

camera shutter