Every photographer should know what shutter speed is, so if you’re here to learn about shutter speed, you’re in the right place.

What is shutter speed?

Shutter speed is a measurement of the time the shutter is open (collecting light). It’s shown in seconds or fractions of a second:

  • 1s
  • 1/2s
  • 1/16s
  • 1/100s etc.

Basically, the faster the shutter speed, the shorter the time the image sensor is exposed to light. However, if the shutter speed is faster it produces a darker image, and a slower shutter speed produces a brighter image.

Motion blur at slow shutter speeds

In a photograph taken at a fast shutter speed the subject appears “frozen” in mid-action. This is because of the fast and instant speed of the shutter, it opens and closes faster than the actual subject and it captures the action. But when the shutter speed is slow, the subject appears blurred due to the fact that the subject moved while the shutter was open.

Shutter speed values

Changing to a shutter speed faster than the current one (for example, changing the value from from 1/250s to 1/500s is) is known as “increasing shutter by one stop”. As well as changing to a slower speed than the current one is known as “slowing shutter by one stop”. When slowing the shutter for one stop is doubles the amount of time the shutter is open, but when increasing the shutter it splits the time in half the shutter is opened.