What is Shutter Priority in Photography

Shutter lies behind the aperture and ahead of the image sensor. When the aperture opens, light enters the camera. When you click a picture, the shutter opens for a particular period of time to allow light into the image sensor.

Camera Layout-1

Shutter Speed is the time period for which the shutter is open to photograph a scene. It is measured in seconds or fractions of a second. Bigger the denominator – faster the shutter speed. Hence, 1/4000 sec (0.00025 sec) is the fastest shutter speed while 30 sec denoted as 30″ is the slowest shutter speed. However, the slowest and fastest shutter speed will vary depending on the DSLR camera you are using.

Light Trinity

Faster the shutter speed – lesser light will enter the image sensor and the captured image will be dark. Slower the shutter speed – more light will enter the image sensor and the captured image will be bright. Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed form the Exposure Triangle that helps in creating the desired photograph.

Shutter Priority Mode

Shutter Priority

Shutter Priority Mode, one of the photography basics, appears as S or Tv on your DSLR mode dial. This mode gives you control over the Shutter speed setting. In this mode, you set the shutter speed according to your creative intent; the DSLR will set the aperture for you according to the lighting conditions to make proper exposure.

If you want to make moving objects look still in your photograph, go for faster shutter speed in shutter priority mode. On the other hand, if you want to capture motion blur – go for slower shutter speed in shutter priority mode. But, remember- a tripod is required to shoot in slow shutter speed to prevent camera blur/shake.

When to use Shutter Priority Mode

To capture Night Landscapes/ For Long Exposures/ Astrophotography

In shutter priority mode, use slow shutter speed to photograph and capture details of night landscapes/ Milky Way/ Star Trails. Shutter speed slower than 1/60 sec records camera movement and will result in a blur image due to camera shake. So, if you use slow shutter speed of say 30 sec (30″), you’ll have to use a tripod to avoid blur images.

Sports Photography/ to capture moving objects

Fast shutter speed of 1/250 sec and above will allow you to freeze moving subjects/objects. In sports photography, you will have to set a fast shutter speed of 1/500 sec or above to capture the fast movements of the sports players.

And if you are photographing a bird in motion, then use a fast shutter speed of 1/1000 sec to 1/4000 sec to freeze the movement of the bird.

Setting used in the below photo to freeze motion of the flying pigeon was Shutter Speed of 1/1000 sec:

Bird Photography using Fast Shutter Speed

Settings used in the below photo to freeze movement of the pigeon was Shutter Speed of 1/4000 sec: (Aperture F/5.6 was used) 

Bird photography using faster shutter speed to freeze movement

When Not to use Shutter Priority Mode

During Daytime

In a Well-Lit room/ room with plenty of light

When you are not photographing a moving object

Instead, use Aperture Priority Mode to photograph under above conditions for good images.

We bring you ‘Jo & His Camera’ Comic Strips wherein a Magical Camera gives DSLR photography tutorials to Jo.

To understand Shutter Priority, Click on the below Image to see the Comic wherein the Camera explains Jo, the concept of Shutter Priority with the help of practical examples.

Shutter Priority

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