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What is Shutter speed?

The Shutter speed setting is one of three elements used to control exposure, that works alongside the other two exposure variables – aperture and ISO value – to determine the overall brightness level of an image.

Shutter speed (exposure time) is a basic concept that must be learned to use in order to be able to expose correctly.

The camera shutter is a device in the camera that allows light to the senzor (or film) in a period of time. When you press the shutter button, the shutter opens and lets in light. How long the lock is open is determined by a preset value. Or, as long as the shutter button is pressed.

Some modern cameras allow you to choose between electronic and mechanical shutter. The electronic shutter works by turning the camera's imaging sensor on and off to control exposure. The mechanical shutter uses a conventional front and rear shutter lock in front of the sensor that opens and closes for exposure.

By adjusting the shutter speed, we can determine how long the camera's sensor is exposed to light. Logically, a longer shutter speed allows more light, while a smaller shutter speed allows less light to the sensor. As a result, our photo will be darker or lighter.

Shutter speed is responsible for two particular things: changing the brightness of our photo and creating dramatic effects by either freezing action or blurring motion.

The shutter speed is thus used to determine the open time of the shutter. The locking mechanism works in several ways (more on this in a later article.)

The shutter speed is measured in seconds. The shutter speed can be a fraction of a second, in which case it is written in decimal places. Usually, adjustable shutter speeds form a specific number sequence.

shutter speed measure

A value of 1 indicates 1 second, 30 indicates thirty seconds, and 1/1000 represents one thousandth of a second. Shutter speeds generally range from as fast as 1/4000th of a second to as long as 30 seconds. Most digital cameras let you control shutter speed 1/3, 1/2, and full stop increments. Each has its own advantages and which one you choose to use is largely a matter of preference. Most cameras come with 1/3rd stop increments as the default setting and a very large number of photographers never stray from it. Shooting in 1/3rd increments has the advantage of letting you fine-tune your exposure while 1/2 stop increments tend to be a little more intuitive.

1/200 sec shutter speed

1/200 sec shutter speed

1/15 sec shutter speed

1/15 sec shutter speed

1 sec shutter speed

1 sec shutter speed

A fast shutter speed lets in less light and gives the effect of freezing an object in motion. With a longer shutter speed, we can better sense the movement and dynamism of a photo.

The shutter speed is measured in seconds. The shutter speed can be a fraction of a second, in which case it is written in decimal places. Usually, adjustable shutter speeds form a specific number sequence.

1 sec shutter speed

1 sec shutter speed

1/400 sec shutter speed

1/400 sec shutter speed

How can we set the shutter speed?


Setting up on our phone is easier if our phone supports it. We only need to drag the shutter slider in either direction. This setting may be in the PRO photographer settings. If not here, look for a photographer's app that knows the shutter speed setting.

telshutter (1)
telshutter (2)
telshutter (3)

We already have more options with a camera. We can choose from different Modes. These settings can be found either in the menu (for some cameras) or on the Mode Dial, if our camera has one.

Auto settings

Everything is set by the camera, all we have to do is press the shutter button. This is the fastest solution if we want to react immediately to a situation and trust the camera settings to expose correctly. If the Auto mode does not expose the image to us, we need to turn to the manual settings.

A mode - Automatic mode

The aperture can be adjusted manually and the shutter speed is set automatically by the camera. If we want to play backwash, shoot a more blurred, or sharper background, but don't want to deal with shutter speed, choose this mode.


P mode - Program automation

In this case, too, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed (and aperture), but you can select another value if necessary. This mode is useful if we want to take quick snapshots and not miss the moment. We rely on automation, but we can intervene and correct it with a quick motion if necessary.

S Mode - Shutter Priority (TV Mode)

In this mode, the shutter speed is selected manually and the aperture is set automatically. Similar to P mode, but only the shutter speed can be set here (the aperture is set by the machine, even in P it can be changed).

M mode - manual or manual mode

In this mode, we can set the shutter speed and many other settings manually. Note that setting the shutter speed does not set the other values automatically.


We can also find Scene selection mode or modes distinguished by small Icons that are use for a specific situation. Landscape, night, fireworks, portrait, macro, etc. We can also find Custom user settings that we can define (U1, U2 or C1, C2, etc. it depends on the brand that is named).

It’s important to know that if we take photos with slower shutter speeds, not only can our subject move in a given amount of time, but we can move with the camera ourselves. If you do not hold the camera steady enough, or if we use a shutter speed that is too long, not only the moving objects in the subject of the photo, but also the stable pixels will move, which is no longer an aesthetic error. Therefore, make sure to avoid movement.

What can we do about it?

This value we can safely hold varies from photographer to photographer, there are people with more stable hands, and there are those who are less so. But this value is also affected by the focal length or zoom of the photo. The more we zoom in, zoom in on the image, or the longer the focal length, the shorter the time. With a greater focal length or zoom, the tiny vibrations of our hands come out much better.

There is a rule that says our photos will not move when shooting with a focal length of a focal length or shorter. Of course, this is also just a general rule, which can vary depending on the photographer moving the camera.

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