Compare cameras and learn about photography


Right in front of the sensor of your camera, there is a shutter. This opens to allow light onto the sensor for your photograph. The shutter speed can be varied. In some cameras you can set the exact shutter speed yourself and in other cameras, it is done automatically.

When there is a short shutter speed, like 1/600th of a second, most motion will be frozen. But also, not much light will get into the camera and, if all the other settings are kept the same, the photo might be quite dark unless you use a flash or there is a lot of ambient light such as a really sunny day. When there is a slow shutter speed, like 1/30th of a second, or even a second, or 15 seconds, much more light will get into the camera and the photo will be brighter – but also the motion in the scene might be blurred.

Sometimes motion blur can look good in a photograph

Motion blur

Motion blur

But sometimes you will want to use a tripod with a long exposure, so that things are still even though the shutter speed is slow.

A rule of thumb is that, if you are “hand holding” your camera (i.e. there is not a tripod involved) then the slowest shutter speed you can use and not have blur from moving the camera is 1/50 to 1/60th of a second. However, if you are using a lens that is very zoomed in, this decreases. A good rule of thumb is to look at how zoomed in you are, if you are at 200mm, then the slowest shutter speed you can hand hold is going to be about 1/200th of a second, maybe a little slower if you have really steady hands!

You can experiment with different shutterspeeds to create different exposures and different blur effects.