Shutter speed determines the length of time the camera’s image sensor is exposed to light. It is measured in seconds or fractions of seconds, and can range from 1/8000 to 30 seconds.
When you use a fast shutter speed, the amount of time the image sensor is exposed to light shortens and vice versa. Therefore, the different shutter speeds affect the appearance of movement in your photographs.
A shutter speed of 1/320s or 1/500s allows you to capture scenes with moving subjects, such as people and nature. Faster shutter speeds such as 1/2000s will allow you to “freeze” fast moving action, useful for sports and wildlife photography where subjects are unpredictable and always on the move. If you would like to give the impression of movement in your images, try using a slower shutter speed such as 2 seconds or longer.
When using slow shutter speeds, mount your camera on a tripod for a more stable shot. Alternatively, if your NIKKOR lens comes with a Vibration Reduction (VR) system, switch it on to reduce the effects of camera shake. Slow shutter speeds are great for capturing lightning, astrophotography, and allow you to get creative with photography techniques such as light painting.
There are two ways you can set and control your shutter speed. If you would like to have control over the shutter speed while letting the camera automatically adjust the aperture, simply shift your dial to “Shutter-priority” or “S” exposure mode. To gain full control of your settings, set your camera to “Manual” or “M” exposure mode.
Some Nikon cameras give you the option to select either an electronic shutter release or a mechanical shutter release. An electronic shutter operates by using the camera’s imaging sensor to control exposure. A mechanical shutter uses the traditional front and rear shutter curtains located in front of the image sensor which opens and closes at the desired speed.
Experiment with different shutter speeds and discover new and exciting photography techniques.