Home > Photo Tips > 05- Shutter Speed

05- Shutter Speed

Shutterspeed 1.3 seconds. Results in blurred action. (shot with a tripod to eliminate camera shake)


Shutterspeed 1/400th sec. Results in stopped motion.


Shutter speed goes hand in hand with Aperture when determining a correct exposure. Remember that we let light in depending on the size of the hole and the length of time we leave it open. Shutter speed refers to time.

Your camera probably starts at 30 seconds and goes all the way to 1/4000th of a second. That’s pretty fast. (Some cameras go to 1/8000th). But which do you use? That depends.

Under normal circumstances your shutter speed will be between 1/60th and 1/1000th of a second. How come?

Usually you want to freeze your subject so there isn’t any blur. The longer the shutter stays open the more chance for motion blur. Depending on what you are shooting that starts to disappear around 1/60th. Fast moving objects such as athletes require a faster shutter (open for less time) like 1/1000th.

CAMERA SHAKE. This is directly related to shutter speed. The faster the shutter speed (open for less time) the sharper your pictures. Slower shutters (open for longer) cause more motion blur.

Since you are probably not using a tripod you want to make sure that your shutter speed stays above a minimum to keep your photos sharp. There is a (somewhat) simple way to figure out the minimum shutter speed.

We will get into focal lengths and lenses later on but for now just trust me that the longer the focal length (the more zoomed in you are) the harder it is to hold the camera still.

So the best way to determine your minimum shutter is to look at the lens and roughly double the focal length. If you are shooting with a 50mm prime lens you want to keep the shutter at least as fast as 1/100th of a second.

If you are shooting with a zoom lens you need to practice your math. If you are shooting with an 18-55mm (the standard lens that comes with a DSLR) your minimum is going to be 1/40th (rounded up from 1/36) at the wide end and 1/100th (rounded down from 1/110) when zoomed in.

These are just guidelines. You still need to hold the camera as still as possible and faster shutter speeds will give you better results.

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