What Shutter Speed For Low Light

By | 20/10/2022

An image of a bird captured using fast shutter speed

One of the 3 well-nigh important settings in photography is Shutter Speed, the other 2 being Aperture and ISO. Shutter speed is responsible for ii particular things: changing the brightness of your photograph and creating dramatic effects by either freezing activity or blurring motion. In the post-obit commodity, we volition explain everything you need to know about information technology in very simple language.

Shutter speed exists because of the photographic camera shutter – which is a drape in front of the camera sensor that stays closed until the camera fires. When the camera fires, the shutter opens and fully exposes the camera sensor to the light that has passed through your lens. After the sensor is done collecting the light, the shutter closes immediately, stopping the lite from hitting the sensor. The button that fires the camera is also called “shutter” or “shutter button,” because information technology triggers the shutter to open and close.

What is Shutter Speed?

Shutter speed is the
length of time
the camera shutter is open up, exposing calorie-free onto the photographic camera sensor. Essentially, it’due south how long your photographic camera spends taking a photo. This has a few important furnishings on how your images volition appear.

When you use a long shutter speed (also known as a “slow” shutter speed), yous stop up exposing your sensor for a significant period of time. The first big effect of it is
motion blur. If your shutter speed is long, moving subjects in your photo will appear blurred along the management of motion. This effect is used quite often in advertisements of cars and motorbikes, where a sense of speed and motion is communicated to the viewer past intentionally blurring the moving wheels.

An example of motion blur
Motion blur.

Slow shutter speeds are also used to photograph the Milky Way or other objects at night, or in dim environments with a tripod. Landscape photographers may intentionally use long shutter speeds to create a sense of motion on rivers and waterfalls while keeping everything else completely abrupt.

Waterfall - 5 Second Exposure (Shutter Speed)
Shutter speed: 5 seconds (a long shutter speed).

On the other mitt, shutter speed tin also be used to practise simply the contrary – freeze motion. If you use an specially fast shutter speed, yous tin can eliminate move even from fast-moving objects, like birds in flying, or cars driving past. If y’all use a fast shutter speed while taking pictures of h2o, each droplet will hang in the air completely sharp, which might not even be visible to our own eyes.

Dolphin - 1/1600 Shutter Speed
Shutter speed: 1/1600th 2nd (a fast shutter speed)

All of the higher up is achieved by only controlling the shutter speed. In summary, quick shutter speeds freeze activity, while long ones create an effect of movement when you photograph moving objects.

How Shutter Speed is Measured

Shutter speeds are typically measured in fractions of a second when they are under a second. For instance, 1/4 ways a quarter of a 2d, while ane/250 ways i-ii-hundred-and-fiftieth of a 2d (or four milliseconds).

About modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can handle shutter speeds of ane/4000th of a 2d at the fastest, while some can handle even quicker speeds of ane/8000th of a 2nd and faster. On the other hand, the longest bachelor shutter speed on most DSLRs or mirrorless cameras is typically 30 seconds. You can use a longer shutter speed by using external remote triggers, if necessary.

Shutter Speed and Exposure

The other important upshot of shutter speed is on exposure, which relates to the brightness of an image. If y’all use a long shutter speed, your camera sensor gathers a lot of light, and the resulting photo will be quite brilliant. By using a quick shutter speed, your camera sensor is only exposed to a small fraction of lite, resulting in a darker photo.


However, shutter speed is not the only variable that affects the brightness of an image. There are also discontinuity and ISO, along with the actual brightness of the scene in front of yous. So, you have some flexibility when you’re deciding on a shutter speed, but you need to pick your other settings carefully.

Shutter speed can be a vital tool to capture a photo of the proper brightness. On a sunny day, you may need to use a fast shutter speed so that your photo isn’t overexposed. Or, if it is nighttime out, a long shutter speed may be necessary to avoid a photograph that is too dark (which, in turn, could require a tripod, due to motion blur from handholding the camera). For many people, this is the
primary reason to adjust shutter speed: to brand sure your photos are the proper effulgence. Still, motion blur concerns are also very important, and should not exist overlooked.

Fast, Slow and Long Shutter Speeds

A fast shutter speed is typically whatever it takes to freeze action. If you are photographing birds, that may be ane/1000th second or faster. However, for full general photography of slower-moving subjects, you lot might be able to accept pictures at ane/200th second, i/100th second, or even longer without introducing motion mistiness.

Long shutter speeds are typically above i second – at which point, you will need to use a tripod to get precipitous images. You would employ long shutter speeds for certain types of depression-light / dark photography, or to capture movement intentionally. If anything in your scene is moving when you use long shutter speeds, it will announced very blurry.

In between, shutter speeds from 1/100th 2d to 1 second are still considered relatively wearisome. You may non be able to handle them without introducing camera milk shake from your hands, specially shut to the one-second mark.

Shutter Speed: Example of Motion Blur
This photo is blurry considering I used a relatively tedious shutter speed of 1/30 second.

Too, this strongly depends upon your lens. Some lenses, such as the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, have specific image stabilization (as well known as “vibration reduction”) technologies within the lens that tin assist photographers take pictures at very irksome shutter speeds when mitt-holding cameras, without introducing camera milkshake. Other lenses do non have vibration reduction, which means y’all need to employ the reciprocal rule instead to determine how long your shutter speed should be without introducing blur from camera milkshake. It is also of import that you know how to concur a photographic camera.

How to Ready Shutter Speed

About cameras handle shutter speeds automatically by default. When the camera is ready to “Auto” mode, the shutter speed is selected by the camera without your input (and then are discontinuity and ISO). Nonetheless, yous tin however set the shutter speed manually if necessary:

  1. Past setting the camera to “Shutter Priority” mode, you choose the shutter speed, and the photographic camera automatically selects the discontinuity.
  2. By setting the camera to “Manual” mode, you choose both shutter speed and discontinuity manually.

Within both of these modes, you tin choose to set ISO manually or automatically.

In near cases, we recommend letting the photographic camera select the correct shutter speed for you. Yet, sentinel to be sure that you aren’t introducing too much motility blur in a photo (or freezing motion that you want to be blurred). I cover more of this in an article on photographic camera modes, but I tend to shoot in “Aperture Priority” mode 95% of the time, letting the camera summate the shutter speed automatically.

How to Find Shutter Speed

Practice y’all know how to find what your camera shutter speed is set to? It is typically very like shooting fish in a barrel to find it. On cameras that have a top panel, the shutter speed is typically located on the meridian left corner, every bit circled:

Nikon D90 Top Panel - Shutter Speed
Shutter speed displayed on meridian camera LCD

If your camera does not have a top LCD, like some entry-level DSLRs, you lot can look through the viewfinder, where you lot will see the shutter speed on the bottom-left side. And if your photographic camera has neither a summit LCD nor a viewfinder, like many mirrorless cameras, you can see your shutter speed merely past looking on the back screen.

On nearly cameras, the shutter speed will not testify up direct equally a fraction of a 2d – it will typically exist a regular number. When the shutter speed is longer than or equal to 1 2d, you will see something like 1” or 5” (with the quotation sign to indicate a full second).

If you still cannot find the shutter speed, fix your photographic camera to “Discontinuity Priority” manner, and make sure that you have turned “AUTO ISO” off. Then, start pointing effectually your camera from dark to brilliant areas. The number that changes will exist your shutter speed.

Below are some other related posts you might enjoy:

  • Seven Tips to Option the Perfect Shutter Speed
  • Guide to Motion Blur and Panning in Photography
  • What is Exposure?
  • What is Shutter Shock?
  • How to Take Sharp Photos

We also fabricated a video explaining shutter speed if that’southward how you prefer to learn things:

Shutter Speed FAQ

Below are some of the frequently asked questions related to shutter speed:

What is a Tedious Shutter Speed?

A long shutter speed is typically around ane second and longer. In comparison, a boring shutter speed can refer to a fraction of a second, such as ane/2 or 1/iv.

What is a Fast Shutter Speed?

A fast shutter speed is often referred to as the shutter speed that is fast enough to freeze action. Typically, photographers refer to pocket-size fractions of a second, such equally 1/250th of a 2d or faster when talking nearly fast shutter speed.

How Do I Find My Shutter Speed?

Shutter speed is ofttimes displayed on your camera’s top or rear LCD equally a number or fraction. If you half-press the shutter release, and so motion your camera towards a brighter surface area, the number that changes is typically your shutter speed.

Which Shutter Speed is the Slowest?

Depending on your camera, the slowest shutter speed that is immune to use without using a remote shutter release is typically 30 seconds.

What is the Fastest Shutter Speed I can Utilize on My Camera?

That depends on the photographic camera’s capabilities. Virtually DSLR and mirrorless cameras tin can shoot as fast as i/4000 of a second using the mechanical shutter. Some of the more advanced cameras tin shoot every bit fast every bit one/8000 of a second with mechanical shutters, and even faster when using electronic shutters.

How is Shutter Speed Written?

Shutter speed is ever written in seconds or a fraction of a second. For example, a 1-2nd shutter speed is typically displayed as a single number with a quote sign or a letter “due south” at the end of it, such every bit 1″ or 1s. Whereas a fraction of a second such every bit 1/250 is typically displayed as 1/250 or but 250 on virtually cameras.

What is the Best Shutter Speed?

There is no such affair, as information technology really depends on what you lot are trying to attain.

How Do I Change Shutter Speed on My Phone?

While some smartphones allow changing shutter speed using the built-in phone app, well-nigh require installing a third-party camera app to allow changing the shutter speed. If you apply an iPhone, try out some apps like Camera+.

And if you desire to go along learning from our Photography Basics Guide, beneath is our Table of Contents. The next chapter in the guide covers everything yous need to know almost aperture.

Source: https://photographylife.com/what-is-shutter-speed-in-photography