Understanding Shutter Speed – A Beginner’s Guide

Shutter Speed is one of the three pillars of photography, the other two being ISO and Aperture. Shutter speed is where the other side of the magic happens – it is responsible for creating dramatic effects by either freezing action or blurring motion. In this article, I will try to explain everything I know about shutter speed in very simple language.

Dolphin - 1/1600 Shutter Speed

NIKON D700 @ 420mm, ISO 320, 1/1600, f/5.6

1) What is a Camera Shutter?

Before reading this article, I highly recommend reading about what a DSLR is and what it consists of. Simply put, a camera shutter is a curtain in front of the camera sensor that stays closed until the camera fires. When the camera fires, the shutter opens and fully exposes the camera sensor to the light that passes through the lens aperture. After the sensor is done collecting the light, the shutter closes immediately, stopping the light from hitting the sensor. The button that fires the camera is also called “shutter” or “shutter button”, because it triggers the shutter to open and close.

2) What is Shutter Speed?

Shutter speed, also known as “exposure time”, stands for the length of time a camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera sensor. If the shutter speed is fast, it can help to freeze action completely, as seen in the above photo of the dolphin. If the shutter speed is slow, it can create an effect called “motion blur”, where moving objects appear blurred along the direction of the motion. This effect is used quite a bit in advertisements of cars and motorbikes, where a sense of speed and motion is communicated to the viewer by intentionally blurring the moving wheels.

Example of Motion Blur

NIKON D300 @ 50mm, ISO 200, 1/30, f/4.0

Slow shutter speeds are also used to photograph lightnings or other objects at night or in dim environments with a tripod. Landscape photographers intentionally use slow shutter speeds to create a sense of motion on rivers and waterfalls, while keeping everything else in focus.

Waterfall - 5 Second Exposure (Shutter Speed)

NIKON D700 @ 40mm, ISO 100, 5/1, f/16.0

Motion can also be frozen to an extent with a camera flash, even at low shutter speeds. Take a look at this example:

Caspian Tern - 1/250 of a second @ ISO 800

NIKON D700 @ 420mm, ISO 800, 1/250, f/5.6

It was getting dark and even after increasing the sensor sensitivity to ISO 800, the camera still needed at least 1/250th of a second to properly expose this bird. If I had shot the bird at that speed, the bird would have turned out to be blurry, since it moved faster than 1/250th of a second. I used an external flash and fired the camera at 1/250th of a second and as you can see, it helped me to freeze motion, despite having a low shutter speed for a bird in flight.

All of the above is achieved by simply controlling the shutter speed. In summary, high shutter speeds freeze action, while low shutter speeds create an effect of motion.

3) How shutter speed is measured

Shutter speeds are typically measured in fractions of a second, when they are under a second. For example 1/4 means a quarter of a second, while 1/250 means one two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second or four milliseconds. Most modern DSLRs can handle shutter speeds of up to 1/4000th of a second, while some can handle much higher speeds of 1/8000th of a second and faster. The longest shutter speed on most DSLRs is typically 30 seconds (without using external remote triggers).

4) Fast, slow and long shutter speeds

Fast shutter speed is typically whatever it takes to freeze action. For me, it is typically above 1/500th of a second for general photography and above 1/1000th of a second for bird photography.

Caspian Tern - 1/2000th of a second

NIKON D700 @ 420mm, ISO 450, 1/2000, f/5.6

Slow shutter speed is considered to be the slowest shutter speed that you can handle without introducing camera shake. Some of the newer Nikon lenses such as the Nikon 70-200mm VR II have special “vibration reduction” technologies within the lens that can handle shutter speeds of up to 1/10th of a second (depending on photographer’s technique), hand-held!

How about long shutter speed? Long shutter speeds are typically above 1 second, when you have to use a tripod to get acceptably sharp images (for low-light/night photography or to capture movement).

5) How to set shutter speed

Most cameras handle shutter speeds automatically through in-camera metering. When the camera is set to “Auto” mode, both shutter speed and aperture are automatically selected by the camera. When you shoot in “Aperture Priority” mode, you set the lens aperture, while the camera automatically sets the shutter speed.

There are two ways to manually set the shutter speed:
a) By setting the camera to “Shutter Priority” mode, where you set the shutter speed and the camera automatically selects the aperture.
b) By setting the camera to “Manual” mode, where you set both shutter speed and aperture manually.

I recommend letting the camera select the correct shutter speed for you. I personally shoot in “Aperture Priority” mode 99% of the time and I let my camera calculate the shutter speed for me.

6) How to find shutter speed

Do you know how to find out what your camera shutter speed is set to? It is typically very easy to find the shutter speed. On Nikon DSLRs that have a top panel, the shutter speed is typically located on the top left corner:

Nikon D90 Top Panel - Shutter Speed

If you look through the viewfinder, it should also be the number on the bottom left side of the screen. On most DSLRs, you will not see the shutter speed as a fraction of a second – it will typically be a regular number. When the shutter speed is slower than or equals to one second, you will see something like 1″ or 5″ (the ” sign indicates a full second).

If you still can’t find the shutter speed, set your camera to “Aperture Priority” mode, then look into the viewfinder and point at a really dark area. Remember the numbers in the display, then switch to a very bright area and see what number changes. The number that changes is your shutter speed.


  1. 1) shams
    December 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    It did not work with me the other day when I tried working on “shutter priority” mode without a tripod(we lost the tripod’s head, so i am looking for a suitable head now).

    I took some photos of a fountain, but result were awful.

    By the way, photos are getting dark when I use faster shutter speed :(

    • December 23, 2009 at 12:36 am

      Shams, you shouldn’t be using the Shutter Priority mode on your camera. I find shutter priority pretty much worthless, because if there is not enough light, the camera will still fire at the higher shutter speed and the image will turn out to be dark.

      I use Aperture Priority mode 99% of the time and control shutter speed either through Auto ISO, or by manually changing ISO in low-light conditions.

      • 1.1.1) thweet htoo
        August 24, 2013 at 10:29 am

        Hi i have a nikon D7000 with 18-200mm vr 2
        do we need some kind of high speed flesh gun whild we are shooting in high speed? something sb-700 .

      • 1.1.2) Dawn Marie
        April 24, 2014 at 11:25 pm

        I too was having that same issue with the camera taking dark pictures. couldn’t figure out how to get it light again. maybe my problem was that I too was in shutter priority mode, and not aperture mode. but honestly I had no understanding of how shutter, aperture, and ISO’s worked. reading your articles seem to be helping, and as you explain something I am locating it on my camera, in return making me remember where to locate the info I am looking for. but one thing still puzzles me… when you say you control the shutter speed either through “Auto ISO” or by manually changing your ISO in low light. how do I know when I am in “Auto ISO”? please clarify.

        • David Fernando Ruiz
          August 19, 2015 at 8:47 am

          Hi marie, you most of times need to play with the aperture mode, that’s called aperture priority, and iso, speed, in auto mode. Well the good thing is that, if you play with all that you will achieve better shots! Set up your ISO every time at low as possible “sensitivity” as the picture accept, The reason, in highest ISO the picture lost richest colors, and achieve dots, noise in colors, in all the mage. But if you need a picture in low light condition set up your ISO in hi example: 500, 800,1000, 6500, 25000.or set up sensitivity in AUTO. Other aspect is speed, if you want to freeze image? Easy! More speed! But more speed, you need more light. I prefer slow speeds as is possible, you get low noise and more colors. The Aperture. Put light when is open or removes light if you close it, but also if close aperture win focus, if you open reduce focus. You can play with aperture to get beautiful images, you can defocus all image but keep the interest in one point or close it and get focus in the most of the image. But if you close it remember! The image will be darkness and if you open will be brigt, for that reason if you put in auto other parameters is more easy, because only you will see the effect, not need to fight with all parameters at same time. I hope this help you.

      • 1.1.3) Daniel
        June 13, 2014 at 9:13 am

        I am planing to buy a slr but bit confused weather to take nikon or canon…….can u help in this

        • Arrie
          October 23, 2014 at 6:42 am

          The first DSLR that I purchased was a Nikon D3100, and loving it. I didn’t know anything about cameras. If you want , I can send you some photos I have taken.

      • 1.1.4) Kari Majewski
        November 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm

        Hi! Just came acorss your site–SO wonderful! Thank you! So you said:

        I personally shoot in “Aperture Priority” mode 99% of the time and I let my camera calculate the shutter speed for me.

        And then this:

        I use Aperture Priority mode 99% of the time and control shutter speed either through Auto ISO, or by manually changing ISO in low-light conditions.

        So, essentially if you are indoors and it’s kind of dark, you’d want to have your aperture wide open in Aperture Priority mode and then just keep adjusting the ISO (because your SS will be chosen for you) until it looks good (without going too high to cause grain)?

        I assume you don’t stay in Aperture Priority though when you want take a fast-moving subject outside in daylight though? Is that the 1% of the time you don’t choose that? Thanks!

  2. 2) Jim
    April 26, 2010 at 8:36 am

    I learned a lot from your articles on aperture, shutter spead and ISO. Those three areas are important to me because I want to learn to freeze action shots in both indoor and outdoor situations.
    I am planning to move up to an SLR like the D300 or the D90. The first thing I’ll try is using the aperture mode as you suggested.
    I also plan to purchase a fast lens for indoor action shots and a zoom lens for wildlife shots.

    Thanks for writing in a way beginners like me can understand.

  3. 3) raynolds
    May 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    INDOOR photography, what mode i want to use if i didn’t have the external speed flash and tripod. When i was in my friends wedding night at wedding party, i shoot many picture using the shutter priority mode because when i using the aperture mode then the camera will decrease the shutter speed then i facing the problem with the blur picture with hand shake. any suggestion for that situation.

    • June 30, 2010 at 12:06 am

      Raynolds, that’s a tough situation. If you were shooting in shutter priority and the light was not enough, then your images would have come out too dark. If aperture priority was giving you slow shutter speeds, then the only way is to use more light in the room or use flash…

      • 3.1.1) Anand Jakati
        August 28, 2014 at 10:59 pm

        Can we not continue use the shutter priority mode in this case and use adobe lightroom to fix the exposure / dark pics?

        Thanks in advance,

  4. 4) Atein
    June 29, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Hello there, I’ve learn alot based on reading all your articles about DSLR mainly..But here, can you give me an advice on how to set the shutter speed?I’m using D40x at the moment and another thing is that, I need an advice on how to capture a photo with a good lighting and less noise if I’m in a hall such as sport complex which has a high ceiling. I’m also using 18-200mm with my D40x

    Thanks in advance

    • June 30, 2010 at 12:07 am

      Atein, what lighting conditions are you shooting in?

      • 4.1.1) Atein
        June 30, 2010 at 12:47 am

        Sorry if this is not what you expect to be the answer but here it goes, Sometimes I went to attend and captured some photos of people playing netball or volleyball which is held inside a sport complex.I’m always dissapointed with the quality of my photos that I took hence I need your advise on how to capture a good photo with a nice lighting as well as to set the shutter speed so that I can also shoot the fast movement of the ball..

        An additional info I’m also using SB900..Thanks

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          July 3, 2010 at 9:33 pm

          Atein, shooting sports indoors is perhaps one of the toughest photography jobs out there. Professional sports photographers use expensive lighting equipment and place flashes around the game area and then simultaneously trigger them using a radio system like PocketWizard. There is really no other way to do it, except maybe shooting with super fast glass and top of the line cameras like Nikon D3s that can handle high ISO levels well. Even then, the image quality would probably not be good enough for large prints and publications.

          Please let me know if you have any questions.

          • Atein
            July 5, 2010 at 8:54 pm

            Thanks Nasim for your reply..another question is that which dslr is better between the d300s or d700 regardless of my budget and also can you help me to understand what is actually a full frame?My other question is it a good choice to buy 10mm – 24mm lens for my d40x because we will soon have a reunion and I want to capture our group photos closely since there will be around 30 of us or do u have any other better recomendations?

            Sorry if i asked alot..Of all articles and replied, I found yours are way very much helpful and easily understand!Thanks again

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              July 7, 2010 at 9:06 am

              Atein, the Nikon D700 is clearly a better camera than the D300s due to its full-frame sensor. To understand the benefits of the full-frame sensor, read my Nikon FX vs DX article.

              As far as the lens choice, if you will be buying the D700 camera, do not buy the 10-24mm lens. Your 18-200mm should be more than enough to capture the group shot.

  5. 5) Margaret
    September 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Hello, I am currently toying with ‘light painting’ and my Fujifilm camera max slow shutter speed is “15” which is ok for most photos but want the flexibility to have it even slower. Can you suggest a camera (not too expensive) A friend of mine has a camera that goes much higher and said something about bulb setting.

    • September 17, 2010 at 1:17 am

      Margaret, most DSLRs can go all the way to 30 seconds and with a remote control can be set in BULB mode, which allows exposures for as long as the camera battery will allow.

      • 5.1.1) Margaret
        September 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm

        Hello Nasim, thank you so much for your advice. Tickled pink you replied. I need your advice once again and thank you so much in advance :-)

        I currently own a Fujifilm S8100 fd which I found has only “4” secs shutter speed and so dug out my older camera , another Fujifilm S5600 fd which has “15” secs…that is wow for me ! I was thinking about the Canon EOS 1000D which is currently on special for $699 or what do you suggest in the Fujifilm range around that price range which would give me the versatility of remote shutter and endless shutter on he bulb setting.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          October 4, 2010 at 1:34 pm

          Margaret, you are most welcome!

          As far as your 1000D question, you can certainly do BULB mode on any modern DSLR, including Canon 1000D. Is there a particular reason why you want to get Canon over Nikon though? The Nikon D90 is a superior camera than 1000D and costs around the same, unless you like doing video.

          • Margaret
            October 7, 2010 at 5:47 pm

            Thanks Nasim again for your advice. I mentioned to a friend just today about purchasing a camera and they have said you can’t go past Nikon ! Will definately keep this in mind and keep a look out for a good price on a Nikon D90 as you suggested. Thank you once again and I must applaud you for this website, very nice indeed !

  6. 6) Dawnya
    October 25, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Nasim, Thank you so much for explaining things in a manner this neophyte to photography can understand. I have a canon rebel xt and love it, but don’t understand what it can do. Last month, I went to Costa Rica because it is so beautiful and for the birds. My photo’s didn’t do the hummingbirds, waterfalls and volcanos justice at all. :( Blurry and noisy shots. After reading your section on ISO, shutter speed and aperture I hope to have better results.

    I leave for India soon and can’t wait to use my camera to capture photographic memories of the trip!

    • November 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm

      Dawnya, thank you for your feedback!

      I am glad that you now understand how to work with ISO, shutter speed and aperture. If you master those three, your images will certainly get much better.

  7. 7) Gonzalo Diaz
    February 13, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Hi!!!!, Thanks for all the great tips!! Your website is really helpful. Great pictures.
    I have a question, I have a nikon d90 with a 18-200mm vr lens, they say you can take up to 4.5 per second, i tried using the continuous mode in high but it doesn’t seems to be that fast, is there something i have to change first? or it only works in a specific mode?
    Thank you very much!!!!!!1

    • February 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      Gonzalo, as long as you are in continuous mode, you should be able to get the 4.5 frames per second. I would check on your memory card – it needs to be fast enough to support 4.5 frames per second. The fastest cards are class 10 SD cards. Try them and see if your frames per second improve or not.

  8. 8) Wesley
    March 8, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Excellent Tips, i was hoping you could expand on the Flash Topic, you said.

    “I used an external flash and fired the camera at 1/250th of a second and as you can see, it helped me to freeze motion”

    Why did using the flash help to freeze the motion? Could you expand on that topic a bit.. Thanks so much.. Great Article by the way!

    • 8.1) Mark
      December 10, 2012 at 12:30 am

      I was asking myself the same. Was the flash shorter than 1/250 and the bird nearly invisible without the flash?

    • 8.2) Roger
      December 10, 2012 at 3:11 am

      Good question. We are missing the aperture information with the photos. If 1/250 at iso 800 was enough to lighten the bird, then the flash could only help if aperture changed so that ambient light did not play a role and only flash freezed the bird motion. If this is the case you use time priority to get fixed time of 1/250th and choose an aperture that gives 1 or more stops underlighting from the camera metering to exclude ambient light (partially), flash will deliver the necessary light and freeze the subject.
      I hope to get the complete information from the author here : aperture, iso, shutter time and priority mode used to make these example pictures.

  9. 9) Joycie
    March 19, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Hi, SO please I found your website. I’ve always been a jolly “snapper” but in retirement I’ve been trying to refine my photo skills. Your beginers guides have been GREAT for me – better than Camera Club and College lessons!!
    After months of trying, I’ve finally taken a Depth of Field shot successfully thanks to your guidance (it’s nothing spectacular but I’ve done it!)
    Being a novice, practiced/proffesional photographers tend to throw all the acronyms etc at you and it might as well be Greek. You are clear and explain things in simple terms.
    My question – do you have a list of photographic terms and there meaning that I could use as a quick reference, or can you point me in the right direction to find one please?
    Thanks again – your website is set firmly in my “Favourites”

  10. 10) Marci
    March 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I’m so happy I found your website! I’m new to the whole photography deal but I’m really interested in getting into it. I just have so many questions and don’t mean to bother you. My best friends wedding is coming up in two weeks and she wants me to do her pictures while she’s at the salon getting her hair done up and I have no ideas on how to take some cool pictures. I look at yours and I’m just in awe(sp) and wish I could take beautiful pictures like yours. I have the Nikon D5000 and I’m trying really hard to get some good pictures out of it. Also, I looked at some pictures and a few were of stars but they looked like shooting stars. someone told me to slow the shutter speed down and the apeture to infinity and set it to 25-45 mins. I could be wrong but I was wondering how someone would be able to do that. I found the inifinity on my lens but the shutter speed doesnt slow down any. Would you possible be able to help me?

  11. 11) Carlisle
    April 9, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Hello. Thank you for this . Obviously, I’m new in Photography and this year I’ll be taking my first ever Photography subject and I’m trying to learn in advance by reading articles, the manual, and tutorials. Anyway, I now know how the Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO works, etc. A little. Hehe! Thanks again! :)

  12. 12) Ellen
    September 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I have recently purchased a canon 1000D. I am taking photography at college and we use the same cameras but on my camera whatever shutter speed it is on, the shutter goes slow and I end up getting pretty patterns from any lights in the shot which isn’t what I want. On the cameras at college this doesn’t happen and I am doing the exact same things on mine as I am doing on them. I would like some help to try and make it faster so I don’t need to rely on my photography teacher when I need to do separate shoots at home. Thank you.

  13. 13) Rustam
    October 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Thank you for great tips. I have nikon d7000 and would like to buy 40mm macro lense, can I use this lense for landscape as well? And should I consider other brands sigma tamron?

  14. November 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I have a D5100 i do portraiture and i am having a bit of a problem trying to achieve a good DOF. I’m using Hensel lighting with model lights and flash. I was using a D70 prior to this and never had any problems, but now it seems that I cant seem to get the right settings to get good pictures because the camera only allows me to shoot at the max shutter speed of 200 if i take it up to 1/250. i get a dark shadow line at the bottom and increases as i increase the shutter speed. So it does not allow me to increase my aperture. It is extremely frustrating and is something i never had to deal with on my D70. Brief comment about your site. It is extremely helpful thanks so much. Please if you could advise me on what to do. Thanks Again

    • November 13, 2011 at 10:30 pm

      Alex, you are dealing with a sync speed issue, which is limited to 1/200-1/250 on most DSLRs. If you need to go higher than that, your only option is to use Nikon flashes or wireless triggers that support high-speed sync (like the new pocketwizards).

      • 14.1.1) Thas
        April 14, 2013 at 7:37 pm


        Your information, and users questions are great. I learned a lot from it.

        I have question. a user mentioned that if you go beyond sync speed, you get shutter’s image in picture or sensor. Well, I can go beyond sync speed and I can still picture without any black image at the bottom of the image, why is that?

        I have canon t3i, I can go up to 1/4000 and i can still see images under poor light condition.( with high-speed option ON, I can override the sync speed and still get good image without any black portion at the bottom of the image. I am so confused :(

  15. 15) Charlie
    November 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Great information – Thanks! But, I am still having difficulty achieving a sharp image when I am shooting moving dogs outside. I am shooting with a Canon 60D in Aperture Priority mode with a fast 85mm f1.8 lens set between 2-3. I have the iso set at 100 or auto iso. Is the problem me? It is impossible to use a tripod when photographing moving dogs. I believe the equipment is in working order as I have been able to shoot sharp images with the set up. Any advice would be so greatly appreciated.

  16. 16) Charlie
    November 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Please notify me of any follow up comments

  17. 17) Shreyas HN
    December 1, 2011 at 5:37 am

    Im having a normal point at shoot cam n planning to get dlsr .. so which dslr cam do u prefer for a beginner.

  18. 18) radu
    January 5, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Beautiful explanations … congratulations from Romania

  19. 19) Meredith
    February 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I have a Nikon D50 and I use this at my daughters dance competitions, where the light is pretty dim in the auditorium except for the stage that is bright. We are not aloud to use flash and I have tried many different things but it seems I keep getting blurry pictures where they are moving fast, not so much the body or face but hands and legs that are moving extremely fast when they are dancing. I was wondering what would be the best setting to use? Thanks!!

  20. 20) Mark
    March 8, 2012 at 5:32 am

    Really helpful, thanks a lot mate.

  21. 21) Ann
    March 20, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I have a really basic question: When I see the shutter speed indicating 8o on my Nikon D90, what does that really mean? Help much appreciated.

  22. 22) Tarun Gupta
    May 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    You said that you prefer aperture priority most of the times because there is no risk of getting underexposed or overexposed image. But in case you need to do sport or action photography, where motion freezing is crucial, do you recommend switching to shutter priority and risk depth of field? or gauge setting from aperture mode and change them by going to manual mode?

  23. 23) Samy Mina
    May 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    You have a great article where you explain the 3 prinicipals in easy language.
    I am going to shoot a grauation for my kids indoor, have Nikon D5000 with zoom 50-200 mm. Mostly I set the camera to M (on the left side) and select etither P or A mode as you recommended and set ISO to 400 or 800 and turn OFF the flash where I can take continious shots/frames. but the picture are not great eirther are dark or blured only when I use the ZOOM, but OK if i use the regular lens.
    Please advice on which setting using:
    ZOOM, INDOOR, DISTANCE > 30 Feet (lucky to find seet in the first 10 rows).
    Thanks a lot and hope to hear from you soon, graduation is this Sunday.

  24. 24) sheraz
    May 30, 2012 at 6:01 am


    Really nice article.

    i’m a beginner and i have Nikon D5100 with the lens 18mm – 55mm. I have shoot so many outdoor pictures of kids using “shutter mode” but there is always a problem with those images. I froze them perfectly but could not get the background blurred like the above images i.e. like the “dolphin” and “Caspian Tern” respectively. i always get the pictures like the “Waterfall” one (imagine water been frozen as well) Can you please help me with this!!

  25. 25) sneha
    June 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm


    I have a Nikon D5100 DSLR and am not professionally trained, courses where i live are hard to come by so im basically learning by trial and error. Could you refer some books if possible that will ease me into some techniques. I still am confused over whitebalance, Metering, proper shutter speed etc.
    Any help that you can give me will be much appreciated.


  26. 26) Jewel
    June 12, 2012 at 12:34 am

    I’m a beginner- I recently bought a Nikon D5100. I’m trying to figure out how to take many photos at one time, eg – when someone is jumping in the air, you want to get it to the exact time when their in the air, by taking multiple photos at one time. What is this called and could you help me and show me how to do that?

    Cheers- Jewel ;)

  27. 27) darny
    June 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Please need HELP i have a nikon d3000 and a 55-200mm lense but my pictures are really blurry need help my daughters first communion on saturday june 16, and i wanna take pics of them

  28. 28) Radj
    June 26, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Hello friend

    I have an nikon d7000 my question is I use an standard lens 18 105 mm I want to shoot beautiful indoor on playboy models shots but i don,t know how to use the settings with the camera when i shoot in auto function the colour is not sharper enough Do i need another lenses which one do you prefer to buy.?


  29. 29) Tiago
    July 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I have a sony alpha a55, and when i use shutter speeds above 1/160 the image goes almost totally black even in bright scenarios. It happens both in shutter priority or manual mode. What’s wrong?! Do I have to use an external flash to use high shutter speeds?!
    Thank you,
    and your site is awesome!

  30. July 14, 2012 at 2:59 am

    A good post. Well done.

  31. 31) Jennifer
    July 24, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Hey, not sure if anyone else has asked this yet but I’m not sure how to set my picture size, can someone help? Pictures show up as tiny thumbnails when I put them on my computer.

  32. 32) Roger Boeken
    August 16, 2012 at 1:46 am

    I do not understand how shutterspeed higher than 1/x (max sync speed, 1/250 on my canon 50D) can freeze action better. With shutter speeds higher than 1/x the shutter is never complete open and starts acting like a moving slit so that every part of the image gets light during very short time. But the time to take the whole picture is still imited by this 1/x max sync speed and during this time frame the subject in the image was moving. However I do understand that you can freeze action whit lower shutter speeds and little ambient light where the duration of a flash determines the time the subject was lightened. With flash the whole subject is lightened at the same moment during very short time thus freezing the action.

  33. 33) Asif Rzayev
    August 16, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Couple of days ago I purchased Nikon d5100 with 18-55 mm VR lens after reading your articles and now I got some tips how to make photos. I just want to thank you for usefull information.

    • 33.1) Pankaj
      November 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      Hi Asif

      Can you tell me how is your experience with Nikon d5100, did you try things mentioned in this article, did it improve your performance ?

  34. 34) Ramanamurthy Marla
    September 12, 2012 at 7:04 am


    I am using NIKON D5100 with 18-55 mm lens, I am trying to take images with slow shutter speed but the result was very bad. Can you please tell me how I have to do settings for my cam to take images with slow shutter speed (Blurred images).

    Thanks in advance,

    • 34.1) Pankaj
      November 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm


      It depends on lot more things than just shutter speed, please refer to articles here like ISO and aperture. Can you tell me in which conditions you take photographs and of what kind or objects?

  35. 35) michelle dukes
    October 20, 2012 at 5:51 am

    I have read just about every think to do with slow shutter speead, fast shutter speed, depth of field and i have come to the conclusion that iam completly stupid as i just can not get my head around it at all, i just can not seem to get my camera set up and i need to take four photos using slow shutter speed, fast shutter speed, small depth of field and large depth of field, this is all for my photography course and iam just about ready to give it up as this has realy convused me, is there any one that can explain in massive detail on how to set all 4 settings in order to take all 4 photos on a Nikon D50.

    Thank you

  36. 36) Pankaj
    November 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm


    Can you suggest me best aperture and shutter speed setting for taking pics of parade or moving men.
    I am using Nikon d5100.

    thank a lot.

  37. 37) rach
    November 28, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    hi i am photography student , for an assignment i must look at “recommended ” shutter speed but can only see what the actual shutter speed is. I have to build a zone ruler. i have a nikon d5100, please help.

  38. 38) amelia
    December 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Hi Mr Nasim, this might be irrelevant. but i know nuts about camera and have been learning recently. i’ve been trying to test Shutter and Manual mode using my Olympus XZ-1. But the moment i click to capture a picture, the camera dies on me. Aperture and auto modes are fine. Have you ever experienced this or heard of it before?


  39. 39) Maria Botnari
    December 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Hello Nasim!
    I am practicing indoor photography. Was trying making picture of my cat in low light, she was sleeping, not moving, so i put aperture mode, and the picture tuned out to be very blurry, then i was changing the minimum shutter speed to higher level in ISO sensitivity level ( I use D7000) , and didn’t got any better results.. what would you recommend ?

  40. 40) Babu
    December 18, 2012 at 3:52 am

    Hello Nasim,
    I have Nikon D70s DSLR camera and i have converted it for IR photography by replacing the internal hot mirror filter. I would like to use this camera for vegetation analysis by using IR photographs. I will normally use this camera during the sunny mid day in the filed outside. Do you have any specific recommendation on setting the ISO, Aperture and Shutter spee for my purpose. Any other guidelines for NIR photography will be highly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  41. 41) Franks
    January 21, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Hi, I’ve just borrowed a friends camera for my art project and your posts have helped so much! So thank you! I’m using a Sony Alpha a200 but with extended shutter speed it won’t work in the dark which is worrying as I’m experimenting with light painting so I was wondering if you had any tips? Thanks so much!

  42. 42) Colby Blackledge
    August 2, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Hi, I live in Colorado and I was wondering if you know of any good compact waterproof cameras that are versatile enough to capture pictures hiking, skiing, mountain biking, climbing, and also good in low lighting. I am considering the Pentax WG3 but im not sure. Thanks

  43. 43) Manar
    August 20, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I’m still a beginner, would you please suggest a good camera to start with?
    (with manual focus, setting ISO and shutter speed manually)

  44. 44) Rohit Das
    November 18, 2013 at 2:07 am

    First of All A Great Compliment to you sir,
    Passion wise ‘m a photographer and really.. learn a lot from your this article and i need one suggestion ‘m Planning to buy a DLSR of canon EOS 1100D is it fine for starters…?

  45. 45) Aditya
    January 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Hello Sir,

    I read you article, it is really helpful for an novice like me.
    I even read some comments, some really professional talking is going on.
    I need your help.
    I am about to buy a camera with budget under Rs. 15K.
    I am confused between Nikon cool pix L820 and cannon sx 510 HS.Please give your opinion and do recommend the best choice.
    Your help is highly appreciated sir.


  46. 46) Navneet
    March 10, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Dear Nasim
    This is a wonderful blog you have here for beginners. I have been struggling to understand the basics of photography since quite some time. I stumbled upon your article by chance and am now hooked. Thanks for elucidating everything so simply. I own a Nikon 3100D and I hope to be able to take good pictures with help from your wonderfully written articles.

  47. 47) kevin
    March 29, 2014 at 12:31 am

    Thank u for ur help, sir
    God bless u

  48. 48) James
    April 22, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    My D90 lets me set the shutter speed to 4000th of a second, but when I pop the flash it resets the shutter speed to 200th of a second and won’t allow me to decrease it. My only option if I want to darken the picture, as I understand it, is to reduce the aperture (increase the depth of field) – ignoring flash compensation and adjusting the flash here. So, why won’t the D90 let me use flash with faster than 200th of a second shutter speed?

    • 48.1) James
      April 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      OK so after a bit of google’ing around, it turns out that “Above a certain speed, the focal plane shutter does not open completely at any one time. Instead, the trailing curtain is following while the leading curtain is still opening. So if the flash goes off at the higher speed there will be a section of the frame that gets no flash exposure. ” Thanks Yahoo Answers for that. So, there is a setting called AutoFP that you can switch on, but it does not work with the popup flash. It causes an external flash to pulse up to 40,000 times a second (it makes the flash burn for longer) so that the entire focal plane gets the same amount of flash. Clever, but, the flash is less powerful when used this way. My next questions is, will this work with studio lighting like monolights or is this strictly only going to work with a Nikon flash?

  49. 49) mikewiz
    April 28, 2014 at 8:26 am

    I’m trying to take a photo of a waterfall using shutter priorty,2″ exposure and its washed out what am I doing wrong,thanks

  50. 50) samiul
    June 19, 2014 at 1:25 am


    What would be the best settings for shooting building, gardens it tropical countries, during the day and night.

  51. 51) Anuj
    July 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you,sir.I’ve a question;l we all know that shutter-speed is for freezing the moment.How will we set shutter-speed if we take a shot of swift moving subject(it can be anything)while we don’t know its speed.If somehow we get to know its speed,will it help us in selecting shutter-speed?i am eagerly waiting for your answer.

  52. 52) joyanalove
    July 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks alot, your information has been useful. actually am taking photojournalism and it was a bit hard to understand from my lectures, but with this information have completely understood

  53. 53) Bianca
    August 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    This was so unbelievably helpful. Thank you so much. I have bookmarked your links on shutter speed, aperture and ISO. I don’t usually leave comments on sites but I really felt the need to after how much you helped me understand! Thanks again!

  54. 54) Noah
    August 7, 2014 at 3:07 am


    I am planning to take some quick speed photos and I am experiencieng troubles with the shutter speed and Aperture speed. Whenever I use Shutter Priority mode all my photos turn out being dark but when i put it on Aperture Mode it does not shoot fast enough for me.


    • 54.1) Anand Jakati
      August 28, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      Building on my prev comment and adding to this,
      can we use shutter priority to ‘freeze’ and then use adobe lightroom to fix the brightness / exposure ?


  55. 55) Derek Harrison
    August 11, 2014 at 2:02 am

    Am I over-complicating things by worrying about the finite time it takes the shutter blinds to traverse the film plane. I reckon my EOS60D takes 1.5ms or 1/600th to do this regardless of what shutter speed is set. I worked this out from the max flash synch speed of 1/250th, sec, or 4msec, and the maximum flash duration, as stated by Canon, for my 580ex flashgun of 2.3msec. This means that it takes 1/600th of a second to take a 1/4000th second exposure. If the subject moves during that 1/600th sec surely it will be sharp but distorted, eliptical wheels etc.

  56. 56) yumeshan
    August 22, 2014 at 3:59 am

    This web site so helpful for me! Thank you author

  57. 57) Jon
    September 8, 2014 at 4:12 am


    First off let me say I absolutely love your website! The tutorials are so much easier to understand than most I have found online, and I enjoy the simple fact that you have so many informative tutorials.

    Now, I have a question specifically about shutter speeds. I am just a beginner so this is what I am working with.

    I have a Canon EOS 70D with an EFS18-135mm Zoom Lens (this came with the camera) and currently I am deployed on a Navy ship and the lighting conditions are very poor inside here. Our lighting consists of fluorescent light bulbs which are covered with cream(ish) colored covers. So the lighting is dimmed out alot because of these covers.

    I have my camera set to AV mode and the problem I am having is that I want to take pictures of my fellow sailors doing their everyday jobs but the problem is that because the lighting is so poor, my shutter speed gets dropped so low that all my pictures come out too blurry. I have read that you said to fix issues such as this, to open up curtains and let natural light in, however on a Navy ship, there are no windows and the only natural light is outside of the ship.

    I was just experimenting, but even with my ISO set at 12800, my camera will only allow me to shoot with a shutter speed of 60. What gives?? Am I doing something wrong here or is the lighting just so poor in here that I will never be able to get good photos in here?

    • September 8, 2014 at 4:16 am

      Jon, since there is nothing you can do with the lighting, your only choice is to use a faster lens and perhaps flash. Get yourself a prime lens, like the Canon 50mm f/1.4 and shoot at f/1.4, which will let a lot more light than your slow 18-135mm zoom lens. And if you need even more light, then use a dedicated flash unit…

      • 57.1.1) Jon
        September 8, 2014 at 5:40 pm


        Thanks for the quick response! Now with that said I have one more question, I was looking at that lens and another lens as well. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 which is only $100 and obviously will still let more light in than my current lens. It has loads of good reviews. Is this lens sufficient enough to get the job done in my conditions or should I just bite the bullet and fork out a little extra cash and go for the f/1.4?

  58. 58) Tara
    September 14, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I try to take selfportraits with the shutterspeed. i want to flip my hair up high, but the results are afwul. The photo’s get grainy or dark, any tips?

  59. 59) Ron Risko
    September 19, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    How does one set the shutter speed to bulb mode. I have a Nikon D5100

  60. 60) Nasir Jafri
    October 9, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Hello Dear all
    pls guide me. I have a Nikon d70s camera. it shutter speed automatically increase or decrease after every expose in menual mode. Please guide if any body know about that problem…..
    I am heartly waiting your reply…………….
    Thanks a lot

    • 60.1) Nikon d90 guy
      March 10, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      You could lock it in, with the lock switch

  61. 61) LA Tunechi
    October 13, 2014 at 6:46 am

    This post was really helpful, thanks a lot… I really appreciate every bits of your explanations

  62. 62) ramin
    October 21, 2014 at 8:13 am

    I have nikon digital camera D300 and my trouble is :
    when select the shutter on manualy mode , the number of shutter speed after evry botton pressing and take a picture whould be change.
    In auto mode the shutter speed number is stable and not changed.
    lead me
    thank you.

  63. 63) Neeraj
    November 8, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Hi Nasim!!
    Greetings of the day!!.
    Tnx for sharing your knowledge and making rest of all know about it.
    I am a fresh to Photography. I have Sony SLT A58. Could you share your views about this Camera and its functionality please

  64. 64) vishnu
    December 3, 2014 at 2:01 am

    The last Para is really nice one.. How to find out the Shutter speed. Very usefull and handy Technique.

  65. 65) Serhan
    December 21, 2014 at 5:32 am

    Very clear explanation and helpful post. Thank you!

  66. 66) Hendrik Novoa
    December 31, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you. I read this post as well as understanding the DSLR Camera, Aperture and ISO. All four were very helpful for me as a beginner in order to understand my camera’s manual better.

  67. 67) craig s
    January 7, 2015 at 7:26 am

    1/500 seems awefully quick as a general recommendation. I regularly shoot 1/125 without much issue and usually never need more than 1/250. Although i try to always keep my ISO low so Ive learned to “optimize” my shutter speed.

  68. 68) Fallon
    January 13, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I am so glad I found your blog…I love it, its informative without being confusing

  69. 69) Ulli
    January 17, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    What are the best settings on the Nikon D610 for Safari Photography?

  70. 70) Yuri
    February 1, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Спасибо, Насим!

  71. 71) Pramod
    February 13, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Great, this information is really very helpful as I have purchased the dslr today. I am going to flash my first photograph of animals today. Thanks

  72. 72) ron
    February 16, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    thanks a lot for sharing valuable information…it was very usefull for me

  73. 73) Claudia Henry
    February 20, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    im 14 years old and i just got my first nice, canon camera and these articles really help me understand my camera so much more, thank you!

  74. 74) cheri
    April 9, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    but why are my pictures very dark when using shutter speed over 1/350?

  75. 75) Sandy T
    April 23, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Hi Nasim, great article, it really helps my basic understanding on shutter speed.
    I have just got myself a Canon 700D, i guess in the US it’s called Rebel T5i, with lens kit 18-135mm f3.5-4.6.

    1. After playing with the camera for a while, it looks like a long bar with numbers ranging from -3 to +3 (with 0 in between) on the display screen indicates shutter speed. I do see ” sign but I still do not get what it means. Could you plse explain?

    2. I love shooting macro shots especially food and nature but this lens 18-135mm f3.5-4.6 is not good for me. Many times there will be a beep beep sound when I try to zoom in the dish I want to shoot, for example. Why is it so?

    Could you plse explain which elements/parameters to look for in a lens that determine its capability to take good macro shots? Is it f figures (the lower number, the shallower depth of field + better bokeh?)?

    My budget is $300 for a lens that could take good macro shots (I dont need a fancy one for now as I am still a beginner). Could you plse suggest which lens to go for? Is 40mm f/2.8 good enough? or EF 35mmf/2.0?

    Thank you so much for your kind guidance.


    April 26, 2015 at 11:07 am

    went I and outside my shutter speed going up to 8000 on a sunny day. I am trying to get it do to 1000 speed at 2.8

  77. 77) saad
    May 1, 2015 at 10:59 am

    i want to know roles of shutter speed
    how many roles off shutter speed

  78. 78) Ravindra Adhav
    May 6, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Very very helpful post for beginners thank you for posting

  79. 79) scott ricks
    May 17, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    What is the best super telephoto lens out with the most reach and most reasonable price for canon 5d mark III

  80. 80) aravind
    May 21, 2015 at 5:54 am

    it really make me understanding things.thanks a lot .

  81. 81) Raju K V
    May 23, 2015 at 12:18 am

    this post was very helpful….

    thanks NASIM

  82. 82) Nausheen
    July 1, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Very clear explanation thank you very much I just got my first DSLR yesterday so Im still getting there

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