What is Camera Shutter Speed?

Shutter Speed:

Shutter speed is a time frame during which the shutter opens and closes for a camera sensor to get light. Shutter speed is one of the three fundamental camera settings for exposure along with aperture and ISO. Shutter speed is given in seconds or in a fraction of seconds like 1 s, 1/2 s, 1/4 s … 1/250 s, 1/ 500 s, etc. longer the shutter is open, more light will get into the sensor. Along with the fine settings of ISO and aperture, shutter speed enables quite creative control over the exposure of an image.


A human eye relates to a shutter in terms like if we close our eyes, and open them just for a half-second and shuts again, our pupil will only be able to get a light for a half-second. This means you created a 1/2s exposure for your eyes. The fraction ½ s means 0.5 of the second.

Control over blurriness:  

Usually, for capturing a subject in motion, shutter speed help us out by freezing the image to get rid of a rough or blurred image. To do so, the object moving speed and our shutter speed must match their relativity. Like in a soccer match, we can’t get a good quality image through the shutter speed of 1/250s or bigger (lower is recommended). Hence it’s clear that the faster the shutter speed, the clearer, freeze in motion, and without blur image is captured while on contrary, with slower shutter speed we get blur quality for a faster moving object and even the image will not be understandable. The blur is caused both by object and camera movement (camera shake).

We discussed that only the objects in motion will be blurred when the shutter is open for extra time. Also, if the camera is moving, the entire image will be blurred. Tripod for that purpose will be used to control the camera shake.

Shutter priority vs manual shutter mode:

Shutter priority mode present with the symbols T or Tv on your camera mode dial that prioritizes shutter over other two other exposure controls (aperture and ISO). This means the camera will automatically set ISO and aperture according to the shutter speed which you set. This setting remains constant until you change the shutter speed again. On the other hand, if you manually set the shutter speed then you would have to adjust the aperture and ISO too to get a good exposure image.

To freeze an object movement during motion, a suggested shutter speed will be:

  • 1/125-1/150 seconds for a human walk at normal speed
  • 1/500-1/1000 seconds for a human-run
  • 1/500-1/2000 seconds for an animal run
  • 1/800-1/2000 seconds for a bird flight
  • 1/500-1/8000 seconds for a moving vehicle
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