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4 Simple Reasons Shutter Speed is Important to Understand

Why You Need to Know Shutter Speed When Shooting in ManualWhat you need to know about shutter speeds broken down simply

Shutter speed is one of the three main aspects to understand when learning to shoot in manual mode. Knowing how and why to set your shutter speed can take a great picture and make it crisp and clear or unfortunately make it a blurry mess. So how do you know where to set your shutter speed? Keep reading to find out!

What Is Shutter Speed

Your shutter speed is essentially how quickly the aperture of your lens is going to close. The faster the shutter is set, the better your chance to snap a great action shot and get it looking clear. However, the faster the shutter is set, the less light will come in.

What the Numbers Mean

When setting your shutter you will notice that the value is set in terms of a fraction.? Ex: 1/50, 1/200, 1/800th. These are all fractions of a second that the aperture is open. The lower the denominator, the slower the shutter speed. The bigger the denominator, the faster the shutter speed. The faster your shutter is, the better your chance at getting a photo that is sharp and clear.

Setting Your Shutter Speed

So you might be thinking, well, why wouldn’t I just set my shutter speed fast all the time? The answer: Because you won’t get as much light coming in, which means you’ll have to compensate in one of the other two areas of manual mode. What you should do is evaluate your subject. Is it something that is moving or in constant motion? If yes, set it faster. Is your subject a vase of flowers, a bowl of fruit or even maybe a person who is standing still? If yes, you can set your shutter speed a little slower.

Fun family portrait by Best Phoenix family photogrpaher

(for this photo, the kids are in motion so the shutter speed here is faster- or set at a bigger denominator- to capture their movement without blurring them)

Tips & Tricks

When setting your shutter speed, a good rule of thumb is to double the focal length of your lens and set your shutter speed no less than that. For example, if you are shooting with a 50mm lens, your shutter speed should not go below 1/100. (My own personal rule, is to set if even a little higher than that)

( Here the shutter speed was set at 1/800th of a second which is well above double the focal length of the 135mm lens)

Now, setting your shutter speed is only one aspect of shooting in manual mode. To really get a better understanding of manual mode you should understand both aperture and ISO and what it means for your photos.

Play around with your shutter speed and see the different results you get by changing it up a little bit!


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