Getting Serious - #2 - In the Blink of an Eye - Shutter Speed Basics

May 02, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

 

Flying Greyhound

(Nikon D750 & 28 to 300 mm f3.5 to 5.6 lens - 250 mm / 1/500th / f5.6 / ISO 110)

 

Getting Serious - #2 - In the Blink of an Eye - Shutter Speed Basics

 

Your camera is a bit like your eye - just not as clever.  The shutter is just your camera's eyelid.  But your camera can open its eyelid for very precise amounts of time - say one tenth of a second, or a hundredth of a second or a thousandth of a second.

 

So what?

 

Well, with a bit of understanding of your camera's eyelid, you can greatly reduce your number of blurred shots.

 

Now, if you are the sort of person who always shoots with your camera on a tripod and never has any moving objects in your picture - then you are sorted.

 

But, if like the rest of us, you often have objects that move in the picture - people, pets, kids, cars, waves on a beach - then knowing a bit about your camera's shutter can really help.

 

The shutter is an eyelid that opens for a set amount of time.  Sometimes the camera sets the time - say if it is in automatic mode.  And sometimes the photographer sets the time - if the camera is set to shutter priority mode or to full manual mode.

 

So what difference does one tenth or one hundredth or one thousandth of a second make to your picture.

 

Well, at one thousandth of a second, pretty much all movement will be frozen - and probably pretty sharp.

 

Certainly people, pets & kids.  Normal cars will probably be OK - but for Formula 1 racing cars you might need an even shorter sutter speed!  (And, indeed for many sports.)

 

At the other end of the scale, one tenth of a second, if anything moves in the picture, and indeed if you can not hold the camera steady enough, then you will get blurring.

 

At one hundredth of a second, you get much better results then at one tenth of a second - but not as good as one thousandth of a second.

 

So, what's the catch?  Why don't we always shoot at one thousandth (or shorter) of a second? Well, getting the exposure right is a dance between shutter speed, aperture and ISO (the sensitivity of your camera sensor).

 

Don't worry about aperture or sensor sensitivity just at the moment - but do take on board that long shutter speeds - say 1/10th of a second can cause blurring but short shutter speeds - say 1/1000th of a second greatly reduce the chance of blurring.

 

So, if you are shooting in poor light, or indoors, or at night - watch the shutter speed.  If it falls to much below 1/100th of a second, you greatly increase you chance of getting blurred pictures.

 

But, you can still stack the odds.  If you are photographing a group of friends, get them to pose for the camera - this normally greatly reduces their movement - so that helps a lot.

 

And take 3 or 4 shots of the same picture - so hopefully 1 or 2 of them will be relatively sharp.

 

And, if you can, lean on someting - a wall, a table, whatever - to steady you & the camera as you take the picture.

 

(I'm a world champion leaner!)

 

That way you greatly increase the chance of an unblurred shot. 

 

So find out where your shutter speed is displayed on your camera - in the viewfinder or on the rear screen - and watch and learn how different shutter speeds affect your shots.

 

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