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Shutter speed. Slow vs fast shutter speed photos - Photoopia

Shutter speed. Slow vs fast shutter speed photos

Updated: 2021-06-30

The shutter speed controls how long the film/sensor is exposed. Therefore, shutter speed has the most impact on how the image depicts motion.

What is Shutter Speed

A camera’s shutter speed is one of its most important controls. The shutter speed, also known as the digital sensor’s exposure time to light or openness, controls how long your film is exposed. The shutter controls what your film captures the image.

A shutter is a small, transparent plastic sheet that can be opened and closed to let light in or block out light. To take a photograph, you must press the shutter release button. The shutter speed is what determines the shutter’s duration.

TTL viewfinders (through-the-lens) cameras have a shutter release button that moves the mirror to the side of the film. This movement of the mirror and shutter curtain gives a photograph its distinctive “click” sound.

You will notice a difference in the sound of “click” depending on shutter speed as you get to know your camera better. You will soon be able to determine the shutter speed of any camera in the room by hearing the shutter click.

milky way, star, night
Photo by EvgeniT on Pixabay

Shutter speed measurement

The shutter speed is usually measured in fractions per second. For example, shutter speed “5000” is a shutter speed that opens the shutter for 1/5000ths of a second. Shutter speeds greater than 1 second are usually marked with another similar mark after the number.

This would mean that the display of 16′ on your camera’s screen would indicate 16 seconds. The letter B often suggests that the shutter will stay open as long you press the shutter release button.

Slow shutter speed

Shutter speed is deemed “long” or slow if it is slower than 1/60th second. This is indicated by 60 on the display or camera dial. These numbers are because most people cannot hold a standard 35mm lens (between 35mm & 70mm) steady for more than 1/60th of a second. This is different than the term “long exposure,” which typically refers to shutter speeds greater than 1 second.

Fast Shutter Speed

The shutter speed of fast shutter speeds is generally defined as shutter speeds faster than 1/500ths of a second. We can use these shutter speeds to stop motion and freeze subjects for clear images.

A general rule of thumb for shutter speed

The number of lens size is a good guideline to determine the shutter speed that you can use without a tripod. A 300mm lens, for example, can be held hand-held at shutter speeds up to 1/300th of a second. Without image stabilization assistance, the hand-held speed of your lens or camera should not be lower than 1/60th of a second.

How to adjust the shutter speed on your camera

We can use a dial on the camera body to set the shutter speed. Older fully manual cameras have this dial on top, marked with numbers from 1 to approximately 5000. Newer cameras display the shutter speed on an LCD screen.

The photographer adjusts the speed by turning a small wheel located near the shutter release. Camera manufacturers do position the wheel of the camera differently in different cameras. Many point-and-shoot cameras may not include a control that allows you to select specific shutter speeds.

If you wish to achieve the desired shutter speed, you will need to familiarize yourself with the camera’s preprogrammed settings. These preprogrammed modes are also available on many SLR cameras. There are also a few fine control modes.

Shutter Speed in Preprogrammed Modes

Nearly all modern automatic cameras have preprogrammed shooting modes. These modes are specifically designed for certain situations, such as action, landscapes, and portraits. However, these modes can be used to your advantage in more than the intended situations if you are familiar with their effects on your camera settings.

Take Action

Action mode is an auto-setting mode that tells the camera to use the fastest shutter speed for the given lighting conditions. This mode allows you to adjust the shutter speed, but it does not allow you to create blurry images due to slow shutter speeds.


Action Mode is reversed in Landscape mode. The landscape mode is designed to provide a small aperture (largest F stop) in order to achieve a wide field of view. The shutter speed will therefore be slower. If your camera doesn’t support Manual or Tv mode, and you want to capture nighttime or blurred-motion shots, then try the Landscape setting.

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Photo by Julius_Silver on Pixabay


Night mode is a step beyond landscape mode. Night mode prefers slow shutter speeds. It also switches off the flash and sets a faster film speed. Your shutter speed will be slightly slower because fast film speeds reduce the amount of light required to expose the image.


It can be a little tricky to adjust the shutter speed in portrait mode. Portrait mode is set up to use a shallow depth-of-field (large aperture/small stop) and a slow film speed to blur the background and create a fine grain. The aperture setting will make the shutter speed faster, but the slower film speed will mean that you won’t have any shutter speed advantage.

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Photo by Free-Photos on Pixabay


On newer cameras, manual mode is marked “M.” It is the only setting available on manual cameras. You are in complete control of the camera’s settings when you use manual mode. To achieve perfect exposure, you’ll need to adjust the aperture while you are in M mode. To ensure that the values are balanced, use your camera’s light meter.

Shutter Priority

Shutter Priority mode is the setting marked Tv on your camera. If you set your shutter speed to Tv, the camera will adjust the aperture value to ensure a perfect exposure.


On the few cameras with this option, program mode is indicated by a “P.” Program mode allows your camera to respond to preset conditions that you have programmed into the menu. For example, this mode lets you set the shutter speed and aperture while the camera adjusts the other settings to maintain the proper exposure.

Many photographers find shutter speed to be one of their most fascinating adjustments. The shutter speed of a digital camera allows you to freeze motion or create stunning visual effects. The shutter speed depends on the exposure time and is expressed infractions.

A high shutter speed of eg, 1/1000th of a second can freeze fast-moving subjects. There are many things you should keep in mind. Here are three simple tips to help you “play” with your digital camera shutter speed.

Bright Subject

arkansas jonquil, garden, bloom
Photo by MikeGoad on Pixabay

Brightly lit subjects are essential to be able to take pictures at high shutter speeds. Unfortunately, because your digital camera cannot gather enough light in such short time frames to expose, it can’t capture enough light. You can overcome this problem by setting the ISO higher. You should be aware, however, that too high ISOs can cause noise to enter your shots.

Let Your Camera Focus on the spot

Set up your shot so your digital camera can focus at the spot your subject will pass by. This will allow you to focus on timing the subject’s approach. In addition, this will increase your chances of triggering the shutter at the perfect time.

Create Blurring Lines

To blurred lines and colors, you can use a circular motion with your digital camera to photograph a stationary subject. You can create stunning photos that are abstract and visually striking. Low shutter speeds (between 1/8 and 30 seconds) are possible to achieve this effect. To avoid blurring unintentionally, a tripod might be required.

You can adjust the shutter speed of most digital cameras from middle-to-high-end models. You can use them to your advantage to create more interesting and better photos. You can have different effects with shutter speeds. Enjoy it and explore!