DSLRs come with a lot of additional features that many new photographers are not aware of. If taken off of automatic mode, they allow for the photographer to take much more control over their shooting than they normally would compared to a point-and-shoot or a cellphone camera. One of those features is the Shutter Speed.
Step 1: What Is the Shutter Speed?
The shutter is a device/flap that opens and closes to expose the light to the sensor. Shutter speed often refers to how long the shutter stays open to expose the light to the sensor. Knowing that, the longer the shutter stays open, the more light your sensor is exposed to.
Step 2: Setting the Mode and Adjusting Shutter Speed
In order to make this tutorial easy, we are going to switch to Shutter Priority mode on our DLSR. In the case of Nikon or other non-Canon brands, you will be able to find an equivalent mode on your camera. What this mode does is allows for you to adjust the shutter speed while the camera would adjust the other settings (aperature, ISO, etc.) to compensate for your aperture changes. This would take a lot of the guesswork out of this tutorial and let us focus on just the shutter speed.
Scrolling using the scroll wheel, you would find that the shutter speed is changing. This is evident as the shutter speed on your camera is changing. For example, it changes from 1/800 to 1/400, etc. The lower the number, the less light is let in and the darker the image is (due to the less time that the light is allowed to reach the sensor). The higher the number, the more light is let in and the brighter the image.
Another way to think about it is the faster the shutter speed, the clearer moving objects will look while the slower the shutter speed, the blurrier moving subjects will look. If executed correctly, this can be used to create cool drawings with light or make a busy highway look empty!
Step 3: Conclusion
That’s it! The lesson to take away is the higher the shutter speed, the faster the shutter speed, the clearer moving objects will look while the slower the shutter speed, the blurrier moving subjects will look. To take this into the next level, put the camera into full manual and try to set each setting manually to compensate for the shutter speed!
TIP: Unless the camera is on a tripod or stable surface, you generally do not want the shutter any slower than 1/60 (e.g 1/5)