Home Photo Tech Things To Know Before Choosing Slow and Fast Shutter Speed

Things To Know Before Choosing Slow and Fast Shutter Speed

The word photography contains a vast area. There are many terms, equipment, concepts, facts, ideas, tips, etc. but, in each category, there are a few things which are elementary and essential. Like, the camera and lens are crucial, and UV filter is not necessary. In the same way, slow and fast shutter speed, ISO and Aperture are such terms which are fundamental factors or pillars of photography.

Slow and fast shutter; aperture size, ISO range are significant factors on which any photograph depends. Among these factors, we shall discuss slow and fast shutter speed, and their effects on other factors.

All About Slow And Fast Shutter Speed

In this article, I will discuss when to operate the camera shutter with fast and slow speed. I hope this will act as a guideline for the amateur photographer having less idea on the shutter. But before going to the main discussion, we shall discuss a few things about the shutter, it’s speed and how they are related to each other in respect to aperture and ISO.

Shutter And Speed

The terminology itself declares the meaning easily. We all know that there is a shutter in the camera just before the sensor which allows the light to hit the sensor and also resist the light when necessary. So, the shutter is a movable part in the camera — the moment it moves away from its normal position the light contacts with the sensor.

As the shutter is a moveable part thus, it moves with some speed. So, this means the speed at which the curtain opens and closes. It is the primary meaning. But, in photographic language, the definition contains few keywords. It is the time which is given to the camera sensor by opening the shutter to take the light of the subject for making an image.

fast shutter speed and slow shutter speed

The faster the movement less the amount of light and movement will be captured by the sensor and slower the shutter operates more the amount of light with more movement of the subject captured if the subject is not static.

Slow and Fast

These are very commonly used terms in photography. The camera sets a time for the shutter either manually or automatically using AI (artificial intelligence) within which the shutter opens and closes allowing the light to hit the sensor.

Already I have mentioned that shutter with fast speed will allow less light with less movement of the subject and slower one will allow more light and movement of the subject to be captured by the sensor. We can consider two statements below:

fast shutter speed diagram

  • It controls the brightness of the image. The fast shutter makes a less bright photo comparison to an image with the slower speed in the same light.
  • Fast shutter freezes the motion of the subject while a slower one blurs the movement.

Unit of Measurement

It is measured with the international system of measurement of time, i.e., second. It can be a whole figure like 1, 2, and three even more or a fraction of second lie 1/100, 1/600 even further. Fast speed usually refers to those times with a fraction of seconds and times without fractions are usually considered as a slow shutter. But, a half, quarter of a second is not considered as fast.

The relation between Shutter Speed and Exposure

I have already mentioned that the operating speed of shutter influences the brightness of the image. The fast shutter will get less amount of light on the sensor making a considerably less bright image while a slower speed of the shutter with the same situation will create a more vivid picture. It is because in faster shutter the sensor stays less exposed to the light in comparison faster speed.

fast shutter speed vs slow

Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture Triangle

Speed of the Shutter, ISO, and aperture are three fundamental pillars of photography. ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor to the light; the aperture is the gateway of light which determines the amount of light to enter through the lens and speed of the shutter is the time up to which light is allowed to hit the sensor. Their action depends on each other. They are either directly or indirectly proportional to each other. We will be further clear from the photo below.

fast shutter speed triangle

When to Use Fast Shutter Speed

It is used to freeze the motion. How fast should it be? Well, the subject will give you the answer. There is a relation between the focal length and the speed of the shutter. If you are shooting with 50mm, then 1/60 is recommended for it. If the subject is speedy, then you really need to increase the speed. Nowadays up to 1/8000th of second is available.


You don’t need to do any math for selecting fast shutter for any photograph. The best guideline is, you should capture many photos by operating your camera shutter at a different speed. It will give you a clear idea about how to operate the camera shutter with proper speed. One important thing is that you should always use fast shutter if you are shooting without a tripod.

When to Use Slow Shutter

Shutter at a slower speed is used to blur the motion. How slow should it be? Well, the subject will not always tell you the answer. It is you who got to judge the speed of the shutter depending on your type of photography. A motion blur photo needs one kind of slow speed of the shutter, and light trail photography requires another. Usually, a camera nowadays can provide slow speed up to 30 seconds. But you can go beyond that using the bulb mode of the camera.  

blur and freeze

In this case, you don’t need to do any math as well. However, you need to use your imagination and judgment for using shutter at a slower speed. Remember slow shutter tends to overexpose your image. So, you must think about the light present around you before you select the speed of the shutter. You must not operate shutter at slow speed unless you are doing photography without mounting your camera on a tripod.

Do I Need More Light For Fast Shutter Speed?

Fast shutter allows very less light to hit the sensor. So, faster the shutter, less the brightness. Thus you should keep in your mind that speed should be faster in case of more light. Now, suppose you are shooting a portrait of a baby who is moving too much, but the amount of light around you is not good enough to make your image a good one. What should you do then? Well, you have to use external lights like a flashlight to overcome this problem.

Final Thoughts

So far I have discussed the basis of the shutter and speed you must maintain while capturing any photo. It is for amateur photographers. But I am sure if you have this little knowledge which I have shared then you will be able to use it properly. I suggest you know these things and then experiment on your own. This experiment will make you skilled in using slow and fast shutter speed correctly. This information will let you know the causes and effects of shutter behavior.



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