Photography - Knowledge

Photography Basics: Shutter Speed Chart (Cheat Sheet on How to Master it)

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Dear Photographers, don’t you wish to bring a flawless touch to your photographs? Of course, you would. It is important to know the key aspects that are responsible to bring a creative touch to your photos. In photography, shutter speed is commonly associated with aperture and ISO. These three make up parts of the Photography Exposure Triangle which are a gold standard to taking focused and correctly exposed photographs. Learning to master shutter speed can help you better adjust the other components of the exposure triangle and improve your overall photography. The tricky part about learning shutter speed is that there are so many different settings to remember when you are actually going to take a picture under various conditions. Having a shutter speed chart to refer to can really help you with focusing on your vision and technique and worrying about the technicalities later. Read on to discover more on shutter speed that will definitely change your photography for the better!

Once you understand the basics of shutter speed in photography, you can incorporate this knowledge into your work. Learn how to choose the right shutter speed for the right situation and soon you will be finding your own rhythm.

Try out new perspectives, different settings will make the same object appear differently and by finding new effects you are taking a more creative approach.

The main purpose of this shutter speed chart is, to sum up, the different types of shutter speeds required for a specific speed of motion or lighting in an image. Use the shutter speed as a method of exploring new techniques to expand your artistic compass. 

What is Shutter Speed?

The shutter is present in every camera you can find. Shutter speed is part of the photography exposure triangle and works in harmony along with the aperture and ISO. With these three elements, you can control the amount of brightness you want to be present in a photograph, which is called exposure.

What is a camera shutter? 

It is a small device located behind the lens of the camera and is responsible for filtering the amount of light that enters the camera and falls on the sensor. 

When you press the shutter button, you can open the shutter and let in sunlight or artificial lighting for capturing your image. 

The shutter can open wide or be very narrow to adjust lighting according to our preference. When you are using the shutter to capture motion or speed, then the length of time that the shutter is open also affects your image. The amount of time that the shutter remains open is called shutter speed or exposure time.

To capture motion in a photograph, you can use shutter speed to control how fast or slow the shutter will open and close by clicking on the shutter button. 
Find the dynamics behind faster and slower shutter speed:
The faster shutter speed option can freeze motion in real life and reflect in the photograph. Using this method, if you are capturing a moving bird then the bird will appear standing still and will be clear even if it is at top speed. 

shutter speed
Fast Shutter Speed (Source)

The slower shutter speed will capture a moving object or person and show the actual motion or appear as a blur in the photograph. This method will show passing clouds in motion, but blurry and not very detailed.

what is shutter speed
Slow Shutter Speed

Let’s move to panning! When you pan your camera to move with the moving object and also apply a slow shutter speed, then the movement and speed of the object will reflect in the photograph. 
When capturing a moving car using this method, it will appear in motion and the speed of the car, fast or slow, can be distinguished. This method can also keep the car from appearing blurred if you keep the car steady within the frame of the camera as you pan and then click.
If you plan on using the manual exposure or semi-automatic mode when capturing your subject, then you should first determine what type of motion you want to be reflected in the photograph. 
Check this:
The faster the shutter speed, the more still your subject will appear but if you try out slower shutter speeds then you can capture the movement of the subject.

It all depends on your preference or creativity. Sometimes, a subject captured clear and frozen in the photograph may seem more appealing if it was captured with a sense of movement or blur by using a slower shutter speed. There is no correct shutter speed, just the correct application of shutter for your circumstance. 
Depending on your subject you, the photographer, must make a judgement. In the next section, we discuss what camera shutter speeds are best suited to a scenario and what type of effects you can create using the shutter.

How is Shutter Speed Measured

The shutter speed in a camera is measured in fractions of a second. This applies to all speeds that are captured within a second after you click on the shutter button. 

The range of shutter speeds available on the camera depending on what brand you are using. Most DSLR cameras range between 1/4000 of a second to over 30 seconds. 

For example, to better understand shutter speed, remember that 1/750 is one seven hundred and fiftieth of a second or 1/4 means one fourth of a second. The most advanced of DSLRs can capture speeds at 1/8000 and can keep the shutter open for more than 30 seconds. They can remain open as long as the shutter button is held down with your finger.

To know how much longer the shutter will remain open, then double the camera shutter speed and the shutter will stay open for half the time you had set it, and only half as much light is able to enter the sensor inside. This is equal to 1 stop in exposure. To achieve the best results, remember to adjust the other elements of the photography exposure triangle which are the aperture and ISO. Upgrade your photography knowledge by understanding ISO in just 4 steps!

How Shutter Speed Works

The elements of the exposure triangle work in harmony to adjust the exposure of your photo. When you make a change in one, you must adjust one other element in the opposite way to balance them out and maintain your desired exposure.

For example, if you have an optimal exposure but now want to increase the shutter speed to freeze a moving subject, then you will have to adjust the other components to maintain the desired exposure level in the photo. To do this, you need to increase ISO or have a wide aperture.

In the end, all you need to know is that your settings will depend on your subject and the circumstance. The type of effect, motion or speed, that you want to achieve through your photography is largely in the hands of your creativity.

To come across a situation where you want to add motion, freeze, or determine the speed of a subject, you will need to make changes to the remaining elements in the camera if you want good exposure. Before moving ahead to shutter speed chart, it is important to get complete knowledge on shutter speed.
The shutter speed chart should give you a feel for the different shutter speeds, but remember to learn how to adjust the other elements as well.

Controlling Your Shutter Speed

For the easiest but limited way to control shutter speed, you can use your camera's automatic modes. 

These adjust your shutter speed according to the setting you choose. Sports mode, for example, creates a faster shutter speed to capture and freeze motion of the subject. You have to leave this mode to make further adjustments or decrease shutter speed though. 

A better and more flexible option is to try out the shutter priority mode or aperture priority mode and then when you are comfortable enough tweaking the settings on your own you can go for manual mode. 

Shutter priority or TV mode gives you access to the shutter speed and then the camera adjusts the aperture and ISO accordingly. By playing around with the shutter priority mode, you can see how a change in shutter speed affects the exposure of the whole image.

Shutter Speed Chart

The more advanced DSLR range of cameras out in the market nowadays can let you decide whether you want to adjust exposure by 1/2 stop or ⅓ stop increments. 

A stop is either doubling or halving the amount of light allowed to be used by the camera. 

Increasing by 1 stop means letting in twice as much light as was allowed before. In the chart, the space between two shutter speed settings is a stop, and it is equal to double or half what the setting previously was.

For example, going from 1/100 to 1/200 means that you reduce the amount of light entering by half, and the exposure is therefore reduced by 1 stop. 

Conversely, going from 1/80 to 1/30 means that you are increasing the light entering by twice the amount, and exposure is increased by 1 stop. In most cameras, you can change the shutter speed by 1/2  or 1/3 increments of a stop. This allows more precise adjustments to get the best result when capturing your subject in motion.

Read on for the shutter speed chart and types of shooting that will make your exposure adjustment needs more convenient than ever. Don’t forget that every stop is equal to double or half of the amount of light entering the camera lens and falling on the sensor.

Shutter Speed Guidelines

For a more tried and tested guide of shutter speed setting and when to use them, you may read the guidelines below. However, remember to take these tips only as advice and not rules to the perfect shutter speeds. It lies in your hand how you want to use shutter speed when capturing a subject. Your creativity should be more of an influence on your work than any other factor. 

shutter speed chart
Shutter Speed Chart (source)

Angle and Position of Lens to Subject

The actual position of your camera lens with respect to the subject can influence the effect that your photograph will reflect. Not only is adjusting shutter speed and other elements correctly enough for arriving at your desired image, the way you use your lens, the angle and your physical position come into the process. 

Outdoor photography of a moving subject can be tricky as shooting in a position too close may affect the clarity of the photo and to capture the motion of a subject adequate and still panning might be required. Closeup shots with the wide lens can give you less time to accurately capture your subject as they can quickly cross the frame of the camera. In the same situation, standing 5 or 10 feet away could improve your results.

Along these lines, if you are close to your subject you will need to increase the shutter speed to capture them or freeze them in the frame. Using tripods to stabilise a moving subject can aid you when panning or following the subject with your camera.

How to Get a Faster or Slower Shutter Speed

If you are trying to obtain a slower shutter speed in the given circumstance that it is very bright and sunny in the surroundings, you may need to change the other two exposure elements. 

By decreasing aperture and ISO you may arrive at being able to use your slower shutter speed settings but sometimes the conditions are not in your favour. To further allow a slow shutter speed in bright conditions you may need to use a neutral density filter on the lens of your camera. Learn more about the aperture in photography and click the best shot!

This filter makes the lens darker and allows lesser light to enter them. This allows you to shoot with a slow shutter speed, with a low aperture and ISO in bright conditions.

You can keep a faster shutter speed in a low lit settings by adjusting the exposure elements. You will need to open up the aperture to be at the widest setting which is the smallest number. If these settings still do not help you keep a fast shutter speed in low lighting then your ISO will have to be increased. Also using flash to stop action in a subject on a low lighting setting can also work.

controlling your shutter speed
Understanding the Fast and Slow Shutter Speed

Now that you know the best way to adjust your shutter speed according to the situation, you can begin testing these settings on various types of sceneries and subjects to get different effects and perspectives. Remember to trust your own gut and use these guidelines only as advice or a guide to what is suitable for a particular situation, not as a gold standard.

Stay true to your creative instincts and play around with shutter speed to discover new techniques. You will be surprised with what you can do, the possibilities are infinite! 

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