Photography Tutorials and Articles

Understanding Shutter Speed Rules Of Thumb

Understanding The Shutter Speed Rules of Thumb in Photography for Beginners

I have already covered the ISO, Auto ISO, and Shutter Speed in previous article. In this post I discuss the Shutter Speed Rules of Thumb. The Shutter Speed Rules of Thumb is a very useful guideline for beginners and assist them on how to select a correct shutter speed for different types of photography application.

The Shutter Speed Rules of Thumb

Here are some rules of thumbs for Shutter speed shooting.

Rule #1: Stay above 1/60

If you are using a tripod, you can go below this speed, but when hand holding the camera, always stay try to stay above this speed. If you do not, you will tend to get blurring from camera movement. Image Stabilization (IS or VR in the lens or sensor shift in the camera body) can help, but only for 2 or 3 shutter stops lower. Just remember the rule, it’s the easiest Shutter Speed Rules Of Thumb.

Rule #2: Focal Length and Shutter Speed

Another thing to consider when choosing shutter speed is the focal length of the lens you’re using. (I explained the focal length in this article). The longer focal lengths will accentuate the amount of camera shake you have and so you’ll need to choose a faster shutter speed (unless you have image stabilization in your lens or camera or using a tripod or monopod). The rule of thumb to use with focal length in non image stabilized situations is to choose a shutter speed with a denominator that is larger than the focal length of the lens. For example if you have a lens that is 50mm, 1/60th is probably okay but if you have a 200mm lens you will probably want to shoot at around 1/250.

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Too many lenses and too many codes to decipher.

Rule #3: Shutter Speed and Flash

Knowing how an electronic flash works with your camera can help you use the shutter speed setting creatively in conjunction with a flash. Newer cameras sometimes offer synchronized flash settings of 1/125 of a second or faster. Check the camera’s owner’s manual to determine your camera’s flash sync speed.

Important note in Flash Synch:

If you exceed these shutter speeds you will start to see black bars on your frame. These black bars are shadows from the shutter curtains falling on the sensor and happens when the shutter takes part of the exposure before the flash fires.

When Shutter speed is faster than Flash sync speed, Shutter create a shadow on the image

By using shutter speed settings creatively, you can do far more than minimize camera shake. You’ll be able to make your subjects stand out from the background, stop the action, show motion, blend flash and natural light and unleash the creative potential of your camera.

If you make a mistake, just hold down the OPTION/ALT key and your brush changes to eraser.

Ambient light and Flash Light is Balanced using shutter speed

Rule #4: Recommended Shutter Speed for Sport

Regardless of the subject you are shooting, if you intend to freeze the action in all types of sports photography you will need to use a fast shutter speed. Typically, DSLRs allow you to dictate the shutter speed, leaving your camera to automatically set the aperture to obtain an accurate exposure. So what shutter speed should you use? The shutter speed you need will depend on how fast the subject is moving. The faster the motion and the bigger it is in the frame, the faster the shutter speed will need to be. You will also need a faster shutter speed if the subject is moving across the frame, rather than simply heading straight towards you.

A good starting place is a shutter speed of around 1/500 sec and work up (or down) from there.

In sport photography fast shutter speed is the key

That wraps up this article. These are some rules of thumbs for shutter speed and how to use shutter priority in more creative way. Stay tuned for the next article in this series and as always feel free to contact us if you have more questions. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for new tutorials and tips.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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