What is shutter speed? What do shutter speed numbers mean?


Shutter speed is basically the amount of time that the shutter is open. This is measured in seconds or fractions of seconds. For example, the number 1/1000 is faster than 1/40. Most likely you will be using a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second or faster. Anything slower than that is unlikely due to camera shake.

If you are using anything slower than 1/60, you most likely will need a tripod or some sort of camera stabilization. Most shutter speeds on your camera will be double for each setting. Example, 1/500, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15

To determine what shutter speed to use, ask yourself if anything in the scene will be moving. If it is moving, you will have the option to freeze the movement and have a still image or let the moving object have an intentional blur to give it that sense of movement.

One thing that is important to remember about shutter speed is that using it in isolation from aperture and ISO is not a good idea. As you change shutter speeds, you will need to adjust one or both of the others to compensate. Improve Photography also has some great information on shutter speed, Aperture and ISO.


What are shutter speed settings?

 The following are some basic shutter speed setting for motion.

*image credit to easybasicphotography.com


You can use the following chart to set shutter speed under different conditions.



More FAQ’s regarding shutter speed


What is 1/250 shutter speed?

So we know that shutter speeds are typically measured in fractions of a second when they are under a second. For example, 1/4 means a quarter of a second, while 1/250 means one-two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second (or four milliseconds).


What is a fast shutter speed number?

Here is an example of shutter speed numbers, from fast to slow:

1/2000  1/1500  1/1000  1/750  1/500  1/350  1/250  1/180  1/125  1/90  1/60  1/45  1/30

So 1/2000 would be the fastest shutter speed on this chart. An example of when you would want to use a fast shutter speed is let’s say, a hummingbird is hovering above a flower, and you don’t want its wings to be blurry. You should use a shutter speed of 1/2000 to 1/4000.


What does a fast shutter speed do?

The faster the shutter speed, the shorter the time the image sensor is exposed to light. The slower the shutter speed, the longer the time the image sensor is exposed to light. If you are shooting a photo when a subject is in motion, you will get different effects at different shutter speeds. Use a fast shutter speed to capture fast-moving images to minimize blur.


What’s a normal shutter speed? What is the best shutter speed to use?

The average or normal camera speed is usually 1/60. Any speeds slower than this are hard to manage as they usually lead to blurry images. The most common shutter speed settings available on cameras are usually 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8.


How do I take a picture with a slow shutter speed? Why would you use a slow shutter speed?

With a focus on slow shutter speeds, you can take some amazing blurred shots. To create that intentional blur, you will need to set an appropriate shutter speed in accordance with the subject’s movement and the lens’ focal length. I recommend a 1/10 setting. This setting will readily evoke a sense of movement and not be extreme.

If you want to take a picture with a still background and have motion blur, start with the 1/10 setting. If it is not to your liking move to a 1/8. If you need it slightly faster, try the 1/13 setting. This generally will give you a clear image of a static background with the subject being blurred to your liking.

Photo with a still background using a very slow shutter speed


How do I change the slow shutter speed on my Canon?

In this example, we will use the Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital camera. To use manual mode, switch the dial to M for manual. Keep an eye on the exposure gauge in the viewfinder or on the LCD in Live View. When the mark is in the center, the image should be accurately exposed. If the exposure is not to your liking, you can easily adjust the shutter speed and/or aperture to make it brighter or darker.

Here is a quick tutorial on choosing shutter speed with the Canon Rebel T6.



Relationship of focal length and shutter speed

Another thing to consider when choosing shutter speed is the focal length of the lens you’re using. Longer focal lengths will enhance the amount of camera shake you have. Therefore, you will need to choose a faster shutter speed (unless you have image stabilization in your lens or camera). A basic rule is to use with focal length in non-image stabilized situations, is to choose a shutter speed with a number that is larger than the focal length of the lens. For example, if you have a lens that is 50mm, 1/60th is probably ok but if you have a 200mm lens you’ll probably want to shoot at around 1/25.


Digital Photography School

Digital Photography school is a great place to learn more about shutter speeds, and pretty much all things photography. They have partnered with some of the worlds leading photographers and provide blog content, tutorials, ebooks, courses and much more. You can have a look at their information here, it’s a wonderful site!


In summary, using the proper shutter speed will depend on the subject you are focusing on. Is it moving? If so at what speed? Do you want intentional blur? These are just some basic things to ask yourself before selecting the right shutter speed. Also keep in mind the other 2 contents of the exposure triangle, Aperture, and ISO as these all work together.


We recommend the Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR camera. You can buy the complete kit with an accessory bundle on Amazon for a great price here. You can also read actual up to date customer reviews by clicking here.

Thanks For Reading!





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