Shutter Speed: The Basics

In order to have a steady looking image or to do some panning, you will have to know what shutter speed is and how it affects the image. That’s why I’m here, to tell you what I had to learn when I first picked up my camera.

What is Shutter Speed?

Shutter speed is a measurement of how long your shutter remains open. When you move the shutter speed number around you are doing 2 different things:

1. You are controlling how much light enters the camera or the exposure. The longer the shutter stays open the more light that will enter giving you a brighter image. If the shutter doesn’t stay open for long then less light will enter causing a darker image.

2. You are controlling how sharp or blurry the image is. If you set the shutter speed too low (let’s say 1/2 of a second) then you will most likely get a blurry, shaky-looking image. If you set it at a faster shutter speed (like 1/500 of a second) then you will get a crisp and clean looking image.


I still don’t get it

The measurement of shutter speed is in seconds or fractions of a second. The higher the number, the longer the shutter will remain open (ex. 10). The lower the number, the less time the shutter will remain open (ex. 1/1000)

The key factor to getting sharp images is to shoot at a higher shutter speed than whatever the focal length is of your lense. Meaning if you have a 35mm lens then you shouldn’t shoot with a shutter speed of less than 1/35 unless you’re using a tripod.

If you are trying to get a rolling shot then you will want to shoot at the same shutter speed as the cars speed. If the car is going 40 mph then your shutter speed should be 1/40. This will keep the car sharp but blur the background and make it look like the car is actually moving at fast speeds. More on that in a future blog post.

That’s all folks!

That’s pretty much all you need to know about shutter speed for right now. The other 2 key elements of an Exposure Triangle are ISO, and Aperture. Once you learn how to use all 3 then you will become a master of the exposure triangle which = better pictures!

Featured image credit: Innocenzo Jimmy Ciorra

4 Comments on “Shutter Speed: The Basics”

  1. Pingback: What are these modes on my camera? | Learn To Shoot Cars

  2. Pingback: ISO: The Basics

  3. Pingback: Everything You Need To Know About The Exposure Triangle | Learn To Shoot Cars

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