Shutter Speed – What is it?
Do you want to start making better photos, by understanding the camera options, but are you confused about what they mean? This Post will be about what is the shutter speed and how to use it to make your photo look like how you imagined it!
It’s not easy if you are now starting, so read with attention and then practice on your camera. Let’s start then!
The shutter speed, is the time the shutter of the camera is opened and the sensor is receiving light, making the final photo. The less time the shutter is opened, the less light the sensor is receiving and vice-versa.
Think of the shutter as a curtain that opens and closes, when you press the button to take the photo. That noise “tchick” that you hear when the camera takes the photo, is the curtain opening and closing.
In easier words, it’s the time the sensor is capturing the image.
The most simple example to understand this definition, is with clouds or water. With a fast shutter speed, the sky will look “normal” with the clouds very defined and with a slower shutter speed (longer), the clouds will be blurred. Check the two next different photos. On one of them I used a long shutter speed and on the other one a short shutter speed. Try to guess which is which!
On the left photo look how the clouds are completely blurred and on the right one the clouds are “normal”.
On the first photo the shutter speed was 15 seconds (s) and on the second photo 1/40s, that means that the shutter was opened much longer on the first photo than on the next one, capturing the movement of the clouds during those 15 seconds.
If the clouds would move slower or the shutter speed was shorter, then the blurred effect would be less.
When should I use a fast/shorter shutter speed?
A fast shutter speed is used, when the subject of the photo is quick and moves a lot, like for example: birds flying, people running, cars passing by and many others.
If you use a slower/longer shutter speed, the subject will appear blurred. Fast shutter speeds are normally smaller than 1/100 seconds. The faster shutter speed will depend from the camera, mine for example has the minimum of 1/4000 s. To photograph a bird on flight, maybe a shutter speed of 1/4000 s needs to be used, but with a running person, a shutter speed of 1/320 s can be enough.
It will depend on the conditions, how quick the subject is, the distance to the subject, lens, stabilization of your hands, etc..
When should I use a slower/longer shutter speed?
A slower shutter speed is used, when you want to create certain effects, such as: light trails, blurred clouds, urban landscapes at nights, night sky and much much more. The use of longer shutter speeds is unlimited and it would be difficult to expose them all here.
To take photos with slow shutter speeds, a tripod is necessary, unless you want to have a blurred image.
Slower shutter speeds are tipically longer than 1 second. Unlike fast shutter speeds, there is no maximum limit and it can be eternal, as long has there is available battery and the camera holds all this time without getting damaged.
If you have any questions, you can always comment below!