How to Choose Your Shutter Speed

How fast can you go? Choosing your shutter speed is one of the most vital artistic decisions a photographer has to make when snapping a photo.

You will need

  • A digital SLR
  • or single-lens reflex
  • camera
  • Tripod

Step 1 What shutter speed is Shutter speed denotes how long the shutter is held open to allow light to reach the film or, in a digital camera, the image sensor.

Step 2 Determine shot Determine what you want to shoot and how the shutter speed will affect your images. Fast shutters will freeze the action, slow shutters leave motion blurs.

Step 3 Estimate speed of subject Estimate how fast your subject is moving. Also, higher shutter speeds are required when your subject is moving across the frame as opposed to coming directly at you.

Step 4 Decide on lens Decide on what lens you will be working with. This will determine the minimum shutter speed at which you can hold the camera and still get a sharp image.

Step 5 Mount camera on tripod If shaking is a problem, mount your camera on a tripod or place it on a steady surface like a table.

Step 6 Set shutter speed Based on your analysis and artistic decision, set your shutter speed—then shoot the action.

Step 7 Test shutter speeds Test different shutter speeds until you get the effect you want. You can even have a friend stand in for experiments.