What does shutter speed control?

Shutter speed controls the amount of time your camera takes to capture your subject, or in other words, to take the picture. 

How can you tell how long that is?

In the example image, my shutter speed is revealed by the number 90. Ninety by itself may not appear to give you enough information; instead, consider it a fraction.

Therefore, the shutter speed is actually 1/90 of a second. Depending on the camera model you have, your shutter speed may already display as a fraction.

If you were to compare a crisp action sports photo to a feathery-looking waterfall, the sports shot is a faster shutter speed, the waterfall is slower. The shutter speed is controlling the effect of both action shot and waterfall.

How do you know?

A slow shutter speed for the action would create a blurry image, perhaps missing the shot altogether. A fast shutter speed for the waterfall would result in clear water spray and droplets and not a soft silky look.

How to tell the difference between a fast and slow shutter speed.

Any number that appears without a quotation symbol, or imperial symbol for inches, is a fraction of time, for example, 1/90, 1/500, or 1/2000 of a second.

A number with " gets you into slower shutter speeds and seconds, not fractions, such as 1", 4", or 30" seconds.

To see a waterfall photo with a slow shutter speed of 1/4 of a second please click the link shutter speed for slow motion.

Your shutter speed display.

Have you found the shutter speed display on your camera if you were not familiar with it before now?

If you have, good going! If you are having trouble feel free to contact me and I'll do my best to help you figure it out.

What's next?

Would you like a more in-depth understanding and how it affects your photos?

If so, I invite you to check out my book, which dives into the subject, with easy-to-understand explanations, diagrams, and a practice hands-on exercise.


What does shutter speed control?

The number 90 translates to 1/90 of a second; the shutter speed in this example.
  • The number 90 translates to 1/90 of a second; the shutter speed in this example.