Beginner photographers, learn your shutter speeds!

How a Shutter Works

Light enters the camera through the aperture and hits the mirror. When you click to take a picture, the mirror flips up to reveal the shutter. Then, the shutter opens up and allows light to hit the sensor, which creates the image.

Your shutter is made of two curtains. When you take a picture, the curtains open and close to let light in for the appropriate amount of time. On a high shutter speed, the first curtain falls, followed closely by the second. It lets light in, but only for a second. Then, both curtains reset to the top. At a slower shutter speed, the first curtain drops, light hits the sensor, and then curtain two falls as well. Then, both curtains reset.

Slow Shutter Speeds: 1/30th – 30 Seconds or Slower

More light hits the sensor on slow shutter speeds because the shutter stays open longer. This is great for dark shots, but any movement will blur. Low shutter speeds are great for taking pictures of something like the Milky Way, since stars move slowly and you can leave your shutter speed open without creating too much blur. You can also use slow shutter speeds to capture stylistic features, like trails of light from moving cars on the highway. Or, leave the shutter open on a body of water to create the illusion of calm seas.

Fast Shutter Speeds: 1/60th – 1/8,000 or Faster

With fast shutter speeds, you can capture more image detail because the shutter closes so quickly. Fast-moving action shots use fast shutter speeds. However, shooting faster requires a bright setting or flash since there isn’t enough time to lots of light seep in.


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