Understanding Shutter Speed

Feb 16, 2023

Quiet obvious from its name, this function operates whenever you hear that ‘click’ sound. The speed of this function varies from device to device.In DSLR’s the maximum speed starts from around 1/2000th of a second to 1/4000th of a second in consumer level DSLR’s and to 1/160000th of a second in some of the professional level DSLRs such as the 1d,1dx in canon and d1 in Nikon. The minimum speed in most DSLRs is 30 seconds but can be extended using the “bulb” shutter mode. Triggers can be used for this function.


Now a lot of people confuse the shutter speed of a DSLRs with its fps, which are not the same thing but pretty similar. For the compact interchangeable lens cameras the shutter speed could relate to its fps, e.g. A fast shutter speed could give more fps, however when it comes to DSLRs, their systems have those heavy mirrors to lift before taking a shot, otherwise a camera with 1/4000th speed shutter could take 4000 pictures. Even a motors in the top notch DSLRs can only provide a rapid fire of 10fps.

But that’s not all, after lifting the mirror (in DSLRs) the camera hast to pull up the shutter as well to bring exposure, this function too deals with mechanics.  So let’s review the mechanism is a DSLR with shutter set to 1/4000th of a second

  • You click the shutter button ( causes a lag of a few milliseconds )
  • The motor pulls the mirror up (quiet time consuming, a few hundred milliseconds)
  • The shutter lifts ( very few milliseconds wasted )
  • The sensor is exposed (accurately to 1/4000th of a second)
  • The shutter drops (very few milliseconds wasted)
  • Mirror drops ( several milliseconds wasted )

Hence the process of 1/4000th second takes about 1/8th of a second to complete. In compact system cameras, we have no mirrors, however their shutters aren’t as optimized so that too takes just a little less time.

What happens during this process is that the sensor/ film is exposed. One of the main reasons shutter speeds are quiet interesting are that they bring motion, or stop motion in your pictures. The longer your sensor/film is exposed the more an object moves will demonstrate motion in the image. Alternatively it can be used to adjust the exposure of the image as well.    

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  • Very informative blog! Thanks for sharing Also I...
    Feb 13, 2024
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