Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed


  1. The length of time for which the camera sensor is exposed to light when taking a photograph.
  2. A setting in photography that controls how long the shutter remains open, typically measured in fractions of a second or in seconds.
  3. A crucial element of the exposure triangle, along with aperture and ISO, that impacts motion blur and light intake.


Shutter speed is an essential factor in photography that governs the amount of time the camera’s sensor is exposed to light. By adjusting the shutter speed, a photographer can control the capture of motion and the overall exposure of the image. Shutter speed is usually measured in fractions of a second (e.g., 1/1000, 1/500, 1/60) or in full seconds for long exposures.

How It Works

Controlling Motion

  1. Fast Shutter Speed: Short exposure time (e.g., 1/1000 of a second) will freeze fast-moving subjects, minimizing motion blur.
  2. Slow Shutter Speed: Longer exposure time (e.g., 1/15 of a second or slower) will introduce motion blur, capturing movement creatively.

Influence on Exposure

  • Fast Shutter Speed: Reduces the light reaching the sensor, resulting in a darker image.
  • Slow Shutter Speed: Allows more light to hit the sensor, yielding a brighter image.

Reciprocity with Aperture and ISO

Shutter speed does not operate in isolation; it is one corner of the exposure triangle. Adjusting shutter speed may necessitate changes in aperture or ISO to maintain proper exposure.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  1. Creative Control: Shutter speed enables creative approaches to capturing motion, from freezing action to creating a silky water effect.
  2. Exposure Management: It provides another tool for manipulating the exposure of an image, either independently or in conjunction with aperture and ISO.


  1. Camera Shake: Slow shutter speeds are prone to camera shake, potentially resulting in blurred images.
  2. Limited Range: Not all cameras offer the same range of available shutter speeds, which may limit creative possibilities.

Best Practices

Techniques for Control

  • Use a tripod for slow shutter speeds to avoid camera shake.
  • Employ panning techniques to capture subjects in motion while maintaining a sense of speed.

Measurement Tools

  • Utilize a light meter or the camera’s built-in metering system to determine the appropriate shutter speed for the current lighting conditions.


Shutter speed is a key determinant in both the creative and technical aspects of photography. It influences how motion is captured and affects the overall exposure of an image. Whether you’re trying to freeze a fast-moving subject or capture a flowing river’s ethereal beauty, understanding how to manipulate shutter speed effectively is essential for achieving your desired outcome. It’s an integral part of the exposure triangle, working in tandem with aperture and ISO to produce images that are both technically sound and artistically compelling.

Sebastian Chase
Sebastian Chase

Sebasitan Chase is a mobile digital photographer who enjoys trying out new mobile technologies, and figuring out how to get them to deliver high-quality images with minimal effort.Join him on his mission to help mobile photographers create incredible images and videos with their new-age digital cameras, no matter the form that they may take.

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