Shutter speed is the duration of light falling on the digital image sensor. It is the time for which light stays on the image sensor to make a perfect exposure. It is controlled by a mechanism housed in the camera body closer to the focal plane (image sensor).
The role of shutter speed in photography is very important and can produce interesting effects that human eye cannot see. The very meaning or understanding of a photo can be changed by varying the shutter speed.
Fast shutter speeds like 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000 and above will let the exposure very brief and slow shutter speeds like 1/30, 1/15, 1/8 and below will let the exposure long.
Total flash photography needs a shutter speed 1/200 (flash sync speed) or below for most of the cameras. There is no impact of flash exposure by changing the shutter speeds when there is not enough ambient light.
Shutter speeds higher than the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens used will guarantee images without camera shake when a tripod is not used – A 400mm lens needs atleast 1/400 shutter speed and a 18mm lens needs just 1/20 shutter speed to avoid camera shake.
Fast shutter speeds can assure crispy and sharp images without camera shake and apparent subject motion effects.
Fast shutter speeds like 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000 and above are used to arrest the fast motion – faster shutter speeds can capture fast actions we missed to see. Use highest possible shutter speeds for shooting sports, birds in flight, wild life action – shutter speed higher than 1/500 is a good choice.
Long exposures like 1sec, 2secs, 4secs, 8secs and longer can produce beautiful light streaks – something we cannot see with our eyes. Use of a tripod is a must for such shots.
Bulb shutter denoted by ‘B’ is a longer than the 30secs preset shutter speeds available, is something used for very low light shots, fire works, lightning, light painting and abstract images. Use of a tripod is a must for such shots.
If you found this article usefull, please check our Basic DSLR Photography weekend course , where we explore all the essentials of Digital SLR photography in detail. It is an intensive, 10 weekend (60 hours) course