Shutter speed is one of the most basic but very important controls on a camera. If you master to control your shutter speed, you can get amazing images. Shutter speed controls the amount of time that your film, or digital sensor, is exposed to light. In effect, the shutter determines what image is captured on your film.
Shutter speeds are designated by seconds and fractions of seconds, such as 1/250 second, 1/125 second, 1/2 second, and 1 second. As you increase the shutter speed it doubles on each step, thus 1 second, 1/2 second, 1/4 second, 1/8 second, 1/15 second (rounded slightly), 1/30 second, etc. But now a day you’ll see many more steps in the total range of shutter speeds, such as 1/13 second, 1/25 second, 1/640 second, and so forth. In most dSLR cameras, you can set the incremental jumps of shutter speeds to change by 1/3 or 1/2 stop or even 1 stop. This lets you customize your choices of shutter speed settings.
At slower shutter speeds, the shutter fully opens like a door or window and completely uncovers the opening in front of the sensor. But at faster shutter speeds, such as 1/500 second, the shutter resorts to trickery, because its mechanical
Components cannot operate fast enough to fully open and close in such a short time. Instead of fully uncovering the sensor (as it does at slower shutter speeds), the shutter mechanism forms a narrow slit; as the shutter speed increases, and the slit becomes narrower. The slit then travels across the sensor area, painting it with light—almost like using a roller when you paint a wall
Various shutter speeds
it’s the best choice to use when you’re photographing blazingly fast subjects. Not only it helps you freeze high speed at bright conditions, it also helps you shoot at low aperture at bright conditions. It’s a shutter speed so fast, in fact, that it strains your camera’s ability to deliver it. To use 1/8000 second, you need to have a sunny day, an ISO of 1000 or higher and a large aperture lens (f/1.2 to f/2.8). Shooting outdoors in the sun using an f2 aperture setting @ ISO 100 with this fast shutter speed will yield nice soft backgrounds while using a normal to mild telephoto lens. Even better is if you have a f1.2 or f1.4 lens for this work.
Image Credit : Nisha Purushothaman
1/1000 to 1/4000
For NASCAR racers, Olympic sprinters, trampoline jumpers, speeding motorcyclists, and charging elephants, 1/4000 second can put them as sharp as you can get. Fast-action photography requires you to demonstrate both lightning-like reflexes and superb anticipation. Facilitate your quick reflexes with good planning by picking out a spot you know the subject will pass in front of. Then, instead of trying to track the subject with your camera, pre-focus the camera on that spot. With such fast moving subjects, you may need to press the shutter button the instant the subject noses into the viewfinder. You should certainly set your camera for fast-sequence shooting, but don’t expect the camera to think or react for you.
Image Credit : Biju Bhaskaran
You can count on 1/500 second to document the prowess of budding family athletes. Whether the kids are chasing the dog or jumping into the pool, swinging a bat at a T-ball game, leaping from a swing, or catching butterfly—1/500 second can fill your family album with exceptional stop-action shots.
It can freeze joggers but not fast sprinters. It can stop weekend cross-country skiers but not downhill racers. It can halt swimmers in mid-stroke but not divers in mid-somersault as they plummet from a 3-meter board. It can render razor-sharp the pedals of your bicycling seven-year-old but not those of a cyclist sprinting to the finish line to complete the second leg of a triathlon.
Image Credit : sujith Nair
When you don’t know what sort of photo opportunities lie ahead, 1/250 second is the shutter speed you want to be packing. It’s a great shutter speed for photographers on the prowl. Whether you’re strolling along the streets of Paris or following your dog as he explores the paths winding through the local park, with this setting your camera can cover a variety of everyday and once-in-a-lifetime situations. Whether you decide to play paparazzo with street jugglers and mimes, catch tourists hanging off cable cars, or coax your kids into pausing for a playground portrait before they careen down the slide, 1/250 second fills all those needs and more.
At 1/125 second you’ve reached a threshold of sorts, the boundary where you are less concerned about stopping movement and more concerned about achieving greater depth of field to give your pictures overall sharpness. And 1/125 second is a good shutter speed to use with flash, especially fill flash outdoors on an overcast day. Another use of 1/125 second may well be landscape photography on bright days. You see these pictures everywhere—those great postcard scenes. Calendars and travel books feature national parks and vistas of scenic byways. What do all those pictures have in common? Total photo sharpness. From foreground to background, everything is sharp. And how do you achieve such sharpness? Use a small aperture, such as f/16 or f/22, to create extensive depth of field. (Using a wide-angle lens, too, can help you achieve more depth of field). On a bright day, the companion aperture for 1/125 second will almost certainly be f/16 or f/22. But let the clouds roll in or the sun slip below the horizon and you may need a boost from a higher ISO setting to keep a good exposure at 1/125 second.
Image Credit : Abu Zayan
This is the premier shutter speed for taking pictures in moderately dim light. Think of 1/60 second as both your cloudy day shutter speed and your indoor existing-light shutter speed. It’s slow enough to let in sufficient light to make a good exposure on a dim day, but fast enough to let you conveniently (if you’re careful) handhold the camera in most situations. Use a shutter speed of 1/60 second when panning subjects of fast and moderate speeds and you can add an extra brush of breathtaking blur to your panning shots.
But for a handheld camera, 1/60 second brings an inherent risk of camera-shake blur. If you’re extra steady or using an image-stabilized lens, you can probably still feel comfortable about getting reasonably sharp pictures while handholding the camera.
Image Credit :Shahnaz Parvin
1/30 second is a shutter speed that greatly expands your picture-taking opportunities because it enables you to get correct exposures even in dim light. Existing-light pictures are infinitely better like Natural light, because it conveys the ambience of a place or even a portrait, can be extremely attractive. Think of early morning light and how it pours through windows of your home or may be church. Or see how light falls softly through the open door of a barn, highlights an object inside, and then creates additional picture interest as it fades into darkness at the rear of the barn.
To successfully take existing-light pictures at 1/30 second, you need a support for your camera (such as a tripod, chair, or railing), or you need to take your pictures with an image-stabilized lens.
Image Credit : Abu Zayan
1/15 - 1/2
With your camera set to this range of shutter speed, you have two choices: find some moving subjects and stir up some serious impressionistic motion blur, or use a rock-steady tripod to make sharp renditions of immobile subjects
Probably you can get only blur images probably when you are shooting hand held. But using this creatively can get you artistic shots.
Image Credit : Binu Bhaskar
Use it with a tripod, you can get totally different images, At this speed, with the camera supported and focused on one spot, a fast-moving subject smears across the picture like a swoosh of finger paint. Slow-moving subjects or those with only some parts moving, a fast-fingered fiddler, for example, may reveal intriguing areas of sharpness mixed with blur.
Image Credit : Punya Punyalan
Many a waterfall photographer feels lucky to work in lighting conditions that allow the luxury of a 1/4-second exposure, because it softens the flow of falling water.
1 sec to 30 sec
Most of the shots taken within this speed limit are either after sun set or before sun rises. Taking a tripod with you would be a must. Especially shooting cityscapes, or shooting low lit areas.
Image Credit : Abu Zayan
Fireworks look great. In a second or two or ten or twenty, multiple bursts of aerial explosions collectively form a bouquet of sparkling blooms. The bright lights of Ferris wheels, carousels, and other carnival rides whirl round and round; in just a second your camera can record the brilliant colored circles and ellipses they’re carving through the dark sky. Children can paint pictures or write messages in the dark that only a camera can capture as in Light Painting. You’ll also find photographers who favor long shutter speeds indoors, too. Interiors like poorly-lit cathedrals and centuries-old landmark buildings present some great opportunities for capturing images of highly-detailed statues and ornately-painted ceilings. However, the mixed contrast of brilliant artificial lighting and dark recesses or corridors can mean a struggle to balance exposure and white balance. Both problems can be minimized by shooting in the RAW fi le format or using HDR.
30 sec or more
To use this you will need to switch to a bulb mode and use a timer release. This is not a very commonly used speed but to get things like star trails or lightning, you will need to use this.
Image Credit : Abu Zayan
All the above are just a few examples, the area is so vast that it will take a long time exploring and mastering. There are a million creative ways to use shutter speed effectively. Get your camera and gear ready and lets have a little experimentation concentrating on shutter speed the next time you go out.