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Shutter speed or, as it is also called, shutter speed is directly related to the transmission of motion in the pictures. When shooting stationary objects with a fixed camera, shutter speed is not important and is determined only by the necessary exposure. But when either the camera or the subject is set in motion, choosing the appropriate shutter speed becomes not only a technical, but also an artistic task.

Do not get confused: the higher the shutter speed, the shorter the shutter speed, the slower the shutter speed, the slower the shutter speed.

Shake or grease

Let’s start with the movement of the camera. This is usually not what you want to capture in the picture. It’s not always possible to shoot with a stable tripod, and as soon as you take the camera in your hands, their trembling causes unsharp shots taken at low shutter speeds. What does low speed mean? There is an old rule, according to which the maximum slow shutter speed, which allows you to shoot with your hands without obvious “movement”, is inverse to the focal length of the lens. For example, if the FR of my lens is 50 mm, then the shutter speed should be no longer than 1/50 s. If you use a camera with a crop factor, then the maximum shutter speed should be the opposite of the equivalent focal length. Details can be found in the article “Safe shutter speed when shooting handheld.”

This rule is very arbitrary. All people are different: for some, their hands tremble more, while others have less. Hand tremor is affected by fatigue, health status, camera handling skills, general fitness level and much more. Just when you finally saw a stunning scene and gathered to take a picture of it, your hands can tremble in the most treacherous way from excitement, although right now you need an iron grip.

You must experimentally determine for yourself safe shutter speeds under various conditions and in the future avoid too low speeds.

One thing is certain – shutter speed will always be inversely related to focal length. Telephoto lenses enlarge the image, but in the same way they increase the effect of vibration on the quality of the picture. The same goes for permission. The higher the camera resolution, the more noticeable the blur will be at slow shutter speeds.

Optical image stabilizer is a useful invention. It can be integrated into the lens (Nikon VR, Canon IS) or in the camera body (Sony SSS, Pentax SR, Olympus IS). The pair of exposure steps that the stabilizer helps to regain from movement can never be superfluous.

A rare case when camera movement at a slow shutter speed can be useful is shooting with wiring (panning). The essence of this technique is that the camera at the time of exposure moves synchronously with the subject. As a result, the movement of the camera compensates for the movement of the object, and the latter turns out to be relatively sharp in the photo, while the background is blurred, emphasizing speed and giving the picture dynamics. For shooting with wiring, a shutter speed of 1/30 s is good. To enhance the motion effect, you can try 1/15 s, but this requires more experience. If the object moves very fast, which is typical for mechanical transport, running people and flying birds, then a shorter shutter speed will be appropriate.

Cyclist. Wiring.
The cyclist is removed from the wiring at a shutter speed of 1/15 s.
How to catch a moment?
A shutter speed of 1/1000 s stops virtually any movement. Higher than 1/2000 shutter speeds are needed mainly not by photographers, but by photographic equipment manufacturers in order to sell new cameras more efficiently to consumers who are fond of technical innovations. 1/500 s is enough for shooting a cyclist; 1/250 s is enough for you to stop the running person, and 1/125 is enough for the person walking at fast pace.

Tree leaves fluttering in the wind can ruin a picture taken at a speed of less than 1/60 s.

When shooting sedentary animals, in most cases you will need a shutter speed of 1 / 125-1 / 250 s. It may take 1/500 s to catch the fastest and fastest movements. An animal sitting motionless can be removed from 1/30 s. It’s much harder to get close enough. Usually, the minimum shutter speed will be limited not only by the movement of the animal, but also by the focal length of your lens, and the lens may need a long one.

Note that birds and reptiles move jerkily. Their movements are as if separated by micro-pauses. Try to use these points to get a clear image.

The appearance of the flowing water in the photograph strikingly varies depending on the shutter speed. At a shutter speed of 1/500 s, the water completely freezes, and each sparkling drop hanging in the air becomes visible. The surface of the water seems as solid as the stones on which it breaks. The most natural images of water are obtained at a shutter speed of 1/30 s. Water jets are slightly oiled, which gives it softness and allows you to separate it from the stationary elements of the landscape. 1/8 s gives water special fluidity, emphasizing the movement of individual jets.

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