Help Learning Series Techniques Tips and Tricks Video

Photography Basics: Shutter Speed

Here are some basics about shutter speed along with two tips at the end that might help you when using manual control of your camera. I show various examples of how shutter speed in the camera applies to photographs. I also talk about the reciprocal rule. Keep in mind this video was made back in 2012, so it’s definitely some of my early work…

This video has been clipped in YouTube to make it more concise, so it could be a bit jumpy at times…


The shutter speed defines how long your sensor or film is exposed to light.

An important thing to remember about shutter speed is that a fast shutter speed will help you freeze motion and a slow shutter speed will help you produce motion blur.

It’s also important to remember that you want to generally have a fast shutter speed to avoid unwanted camera shake, unwanted motion blur.

That isn’t always the case.

Sometimes.. for example.. let’s say you wanted to photograph a helicopter.

It’s up in the air and you take it with a really fast shutter speed.

But you see that your photo… the blades are… they don’t even look like they’re moving.

So it’s probably better in some situations to use a slower shutter speed so you get intentional motion blur.
As you double your shutter speed the amount of light changes by one EV.

I’ll give you an example of how it works.
So at 1/125th of a second you use f/11 for the aperture.
If you don’t know the aperture is the opening inside your lens that is variable.

You can change the size of it.

To get the same exact exposure at 1/250th of a second you’d use f/8 instead of f/11.

Or at 1/500 of a second you would use f/5.6 instead of f/8 or instead of f/11.

So it works pretty nicely like that to figure out your proper exposure.

A nice guideline to remember is that base your shutter speed on your lens focal length.

So if you have a 50 millimeter lens or you’re using a zoom lens that’s at 50 millimeter, you’d probably use something around 1/60th of a second shutter speed to avoid unwanted blur.

And then if you had 100 millimeter lens you’d use 1/100 of a second shutter speed.

It’s just a little rule of thumb.

It’s not something you should follow religiously, but it’ll help you get those nice sharp photos.

So those are the basics of shutter speed, thanks!