Home Camera Settings Pro Tip: Minimum Shutter Speed in Photography When Shooting Handheld

Pro Tip: Minimum Shutter Speed in Photography When Shooting Handheld

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Did you know that when shooting handheld there is a minimum shutter speed in photography camera setting you must follow in order to have crisp looking photos? If you didn’t then don’t feel bad because you’re not alone. Most new photographers don’t know this either and only learn it by sheer luck!

You may have noticed that when you take some photos handheld that they end up coming out blurry or not very sharp. Many times the photo looks crisp on your preview monitor but when you sit down to review your photos you see that they’re not sharp. You scratch your head and think to yourself “I know I held the camera very still. Why are these blurry!”

What you’re not aware of is that most photos shot handheld will come out blurry if you don’t choose the right shutter speed for your photograph because of a factor called camera shake. Camera shake occurs from the small natural movements of your hands. No matter how steady you think your hands are when shooting handheld they still move slightly and can end up causing motion blur. That’s because the shutter speed you chose is not fast enough to compensate for this slight movement. There is a minimum shutter speed you must follow when shooting handheld.

 

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Photo by mikebaird

 

So What is the Minimum Shutter Speed in Photography?

Depending on what the focal length of your lens is set at will determine what the minimum shutter speed in photography should be. A good rule of thumb is to choose a shutter speed that is one over your focal length.

Confused? Here’s an example to help you understand how to choose the minimum correct shutter speed for your photography:

Let’s say you are using a telephoto lens at it is set at 300mm. How do you know its set at 300mm? Just look at the number it’s turned to on the barrel of your lens. By using the rule above you’ll need to choose a shutter speed of at least 1/300. This equals one over the focal length. If your lens was set at 90mm you would choose a shutter speed of at least 1/90. Make sense?

You probably noticed in the above paragraph that we said choose a shutter speed of “at least …” That’s because this is the bare minimum shutter speed you can use for a sharp shot when shooting handheld – one over the focal length. Often you need to choose a speed setting that is one or two faster. How do you know exactly which one to choose? It takes practice and depends on how shaky your hands are!

If you need to use a slower shutter speed to achieve a good exposure then you’ll need to use a tripod. A tripod will allow you to use slower shutter speeds as they prevent the occurrence of camera shake.

Now that you know how to choose the minimum speed for your shutter when taking photos you might be wondering how to achieve different effects with shutter speed. For more information on this topic check out another post we wrote on How to Choose the Right Shutter Speed for Your Photograph. It’s very detailed and has many sample photos!

We hope you enjoyed this pro tip on how to choose the minimum shutter speed in photography and encourage you to share with with other photographers! Please leave a comment below.

4 Comments

  1. […] Pro Tip: Minimum Shutter Speed in Photography When Shooting Handheld – a quick and thoughtful post that discusses proper shutter speeds while shooting handheld to achieve crisp and sharp photography results. ¬†Well written and easy to understand, this short post is a great primer for this issue. […]

  2. S.HARI NARAYANAN

    April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    The above article is very informative for me. Thank you

  3. sotico aleman

    March 11, 2013 at 1:40 am

    great…. it helps me a lot……

  4. sotico aleman

    March 11, 2013 at 1:41 am

    great… it helps me a lot..

  5. […] a Saturday learning about lens sweet spots and doing some experimenting. And then I learned about minimum shutter speeds to use for a given focal length. Armed with those two crucial pieces of information, I mounted my […]

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