If you want to gain greater control of your images and get sharp photos regardless of the lighting conditions or what you’re photographing, at some point you’re going to have to venture into manual or shutter speed priority mode.
So what exactly is shutter speed and how does it affect your photos?
Every camera has a physical shutter that opens and closes when a picture is taken in order to expose the sensor to the light that’s coming through the lens. So the shutter speed or exposure time controls how long this shutter stays open for and how much light will reach the sensor.
Together with aperture and ISO, shutter speed is also one of the three elements of exposure, so understanding how it affects your photos will help you take your photography to the next level. With this in mind, here are a few important things you should know about shutter speed.
Shutter speed is measured in seconds and fractions of seconds
In order to effectively control your shutter speed and get the results you’re looking for, you need to understand how shutter speed is measured and displayed. When shutter speeds are under a second, and they usually will be when you’re handholding your camera, they’ll be measured in fractions of a second.
So you’ll see shutter speeds ranging from 1/4, which is a quarter of a second, to 1/250, which is one two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second. These days, most DSLRs can go up to faster shutter speeds of up to 1/8000th of a second or more.
Slower shutter speeds can be measured in seconds, and the longest shutter speed for most DSLRs is around 30 seconds, although longer exposures are possible with a remote shutter release.