Define Shutter Speed – And How It Works

Define Shutter Speed – And How It Works

Hey, everyone. Last time I made a post about what ISO on your camera is. Today the name of the post is define shutter speed. I want to explain to you what shutter speed is and how to work with it.

What is shutter speed:

Shutter speed describes the amount of time your the shutter inside your camera is open to expose the sensor to the scenery you want to take a photo of. But let’s break it all down into little pieces everybody can understand in a second.

  • What are these numbers? Shutter speed is shown in seconds 1, for example, means one-second ½ means half a second. 1/4000 is 4000 times faster than a second.

Define Shutter Speed

  • Pros for a long shutter speed. When you have a long shutter speed 1 sec. For example, a lot of light can travel through the lens onto your sensor and you will be able to take a bright photo in a very low light situation.

Define Shutter Speed

  • Cons for long shutter speed. But you will never be able to take a photo without motion blur under 1/60 by holding the camera in your hand. You will need a tripod. Also, you can not take sharp pictures of a fast moving object because it will be moving in the time your shutter is open which will also create motion blur.
fast slow shutter speed
Good picture but sadly to much motion blur.

  • Pro for a fast shutter speed. A fast shutter speed enables you to freeze motion or get a sharp image of a very fast moving object. For example in sports photography. The reason for that is that if you shutter speed is 1/4000 you object will not have enough time to move while you take the picture.
this is where a fast shutter speed comes in really handy. No motions blur.

  • Cons for a fast shutter speed. For a fast shutter speed, you will need a lot of light or your picture will be very dark. Because there is only a very little time frame where the sensor gets any light through the shutter on it.  you can always try to compensate that with the aperture, Iso or a flash but most of the time you just need a lot of light.
Underexposed picture because my shutter speed was too fast.

  • Motion blur is not always a bad thing. For example when you do a picture of a beach or a waterfall. If you want to know more about it read my post about long exposure photography.
digital camera shutter speed
Motion blur In the water.

  • A rule of thumb. If you just keep in mind that your focal length should never be smaller than your shutter speed. For example, when you have a 105mm lens you should use at least 1/125 shutter speed.

  • Bulb mode. Bulb is what comes when you go in M mode and turn your shutter speed all the way down on your camera. To work with bulb you need a shutter remote or when your camera has wifi a shutter release app (usually the camera brand itself has the best one for your camera). However, when you are in the bulb settings you will be able to open your shutter as long as you want. Which comes in very handy when you want to take long exposure photos.

  • TV mode. The tv mode enables you to take direct control of the shutter speed while it finds the right aperture for you.


When you change your shutter speed you will always need to adapt either ISO or aperture or both. Because they always play together.


So that’s already it for understanding shutter speed numbers. I hope It was understandable and somehow fun to read. 🙂 If you have any suggestions, questions or opinions let it me know in the comments 🙂




4 thoughts on “Define Shutter Speed – And How It Works

  1. Aloha Aaron!

    Thanks a lot for this great advice with the shutter speed! Now I get it right. And your examples with the picture where really helpful.

    And the article about long exposure photos is also fantastic! I love such images.

    1. Aaron

      Aloha yourself 🙂 I am glad I was able to explain it in a way that other people understand it as well 🙂 And you should really try long exposure photography. It’s awesome. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Aaron.
    I love this website.
    I find your method of teaching photography to newbies very refreshing.
    I am moving up from point and shoot, and bridge photography, and I find these posts very helpful.

    1. Aaron

      Hey Paul, I’m Happy to hear that you like my site and the information I provide is useful for you. 🙂

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