Shutter speed in photography


Shutter speed in photography

What is a shutter speed? The shutter speed is in photography when we let the light hit the image sensor. This time is usually between 1/8000s or 1/4000s and several seconds or even hours in night photography. Most Dslr cameras has this range for shutter speeds of 1/4000s-30s or 1/8000s-30s range or if we want even longer shutter speeds usually for night photography we can use bulb mode. What is the bulb mode? We must turn our camera to Manual (M) mode and push the shutter until we finish the shot. It can be quite tiring for hours, so there are other options for this like remote shutter controllers.

The aperture and the shutter speed together form an exposure. The aperture is a hole on the lens, it can be bigger and smaller by adjusting it with the dial on our Dslr or advanced compact or MILC camera.

If we the whole is bigger we let more light in, meaning we have higher shutter speed, if we let less light in we need more time for the same bright photo. If we want darker image we use lower shutter speed, if we want brighter photo we use more shutter speed.

High shutter speed

We call 1/500s-1/8000s high shutter speeds. The highest shutter speed is required if we make photos of fast moving subjects, and wants to freeze motion, or if we use long lenses for distant objects.

Low shutter speed

Low shutter speed is 1/30s or longer. Low shutter speeds can result unwanted blur, which makes the pictures not sharp, especially in low light situations like shots in the house. If nothing moves on the picture (for example landscapes) than the tripod can solve this problem.

Middle shutter speed

Middle shutter speed is between the two extremes explained above, these shutter speeds are used the most for general photography.

shutter speed in photography
High shutter speed 1/1600s was used to freeze action, very rarely needs faster shutter speed than this Canon 200mm f/2.8 +Kenko 1.4dgx teleconverter f/10 ISO 500

shutter speed in photography
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) chased by the Magpie (Pica pica)
This picture was made at 1/2000s shutter speed 280mm Canon 200mm f/2.8 + Kenko 1.4 dgx at f/6.3 it is hard to judge that shutter speed is enough or not, I would prefer this picture to be sharper, the obvious thing is more focal length is needed preferably 400mm or longer, but it is very hard to track with a longer prime lens, because both the depth of field and the field of view are narrow, which makes focusing very difficult. To get closer to the birds is not really possible or cannot be controlled for such a spontaneous shot. Here we can see the challenges in photography: for high shutter speed we need lots of light, if there is a very strong light usually ruin the photo, or to make proper exposure is hard, if we use big apertures, the depth of field is shallow, if we use high ISO number to have more shutter speed grain can appear in the image. Short focal length mean more cropping, which makes the grain more apparent.

NIK_5194 Lower shutter speeds is widely used in landscape photography to create creative effects. The picture was made at 1/3s from the Tripod. Without the tripod you have very little (I guess 3%) chance to make this picture as it is. Even on the tripod, I tried to hold the camera very steadily. Nikon d7000 + Nikon 16-85 Vr, B+W linear polarizer 1/3s

To make interesting looking shots running or moving water needed. The effect is different at different shutter speeds. It depends on the speed of the water or wind as well. It needs experimenting to chose the shutter speed value you need for the preferred look.

Many times strong ND (natural density or simple grey darkening) filters also needed in daylight for the desired effect. Not as easy to execute an interesting photo but not so complicated either.

Shutter speed in photography

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The above picture was made at 1/320s, this is not enough to freeze the fast moving bird, but can show some movement, which can make the picture more artistic

Shutter speed in photography

Shutter speed is the time when your camera makes a photo. This ranges between so long as several hours to a minimum shutter speed of 1/8000s. If the shutter speed is too low, you can end up with a blurred photo. Usually any Dslr camera has a default value of 30-1/4000s for shutter speed. Some cameras has 30-1/8000s. My camera has 1/8000s but I very use this high shutter speed, even the 1/4000s is very rare. For this shutter speeds you need very sharp, very bright lenses in good daylight. If you want longer shutter speeds for example sky photograpy, there is a bulb mode, which is only possible usually in Manual mode. Here you press the shutter and hold it as long as you want. Only useful in very dark situations. Usually for most applications the 30s is enough.

What is the minimal shutter speed you need to make a sharp shoot ? – Shutter speed in photography

It depends on the following factors:

1. Aperture used – with smaller apertures(f/11-f/22 where the number is bigger) you have smaller shutter speed, because your lens let smaller amount of light in.
2. Lens focal length – usual rule is 1/focal length for FullFrame cameras, 1/1.6*focal length of Aps-C cameras. What does it mean? if you have a 18-55mm kit lens on your Canon 700d camera you need at least 1/1.6*55 sec for sharp images without the stabilizer (1/80-1/100 sec).
3. Subject movement – if your subject is moving you need higher shutter speeds, depending the speed of the subject. If you really want to freeze action you need 1/1000s to make really sharp images for people or birds. If your subject moves very fast even more.
4. How shaky your hands are. If you have stable hands, this helps a lot. The difference can be quite significant.
5. If your lens has a stabilizer or not. Stabilizer helps for still subjects, but not for moving subjects.

What is the minimal shutter speed you need to make a sharp shoot with a tripod ? – Shutter speed in photography

With the tripod you can make sharp shots basically at any settings. The most difficult perhaps between 1/10-several seconds range. The focal length here is also very important, but you can make very sharp shots with even long focal lengths, but it is easier to makes sharp shots with wider lenses.

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