Shutter Speed

Shutter speed (also exposure), as well as diaphragm and ISO rate, is an essential setting when it comes to managing image brightness. The length of exposure time is relevant to the risk of blurring for images captured without a tripod.

The right exposure is dependent on the following:

  • Brightness (dependent on intensity of illumination and colour i.e. the reflective properties of the subject)
  • Diaphragm
  • ISO rate

Attention! Long periods of exposure increase the risk of blurring/motion blurring. At the same shutter speed, the risk of blurring depends on the focal length! There is a tried and tested formula to estimate the risk of blurring:

The maximum shutter speed that can be "held" without blurring is the reciprocal value of the product of focal length and crop factor (lengthening factor) example)


How can the risk of blurring be minimised?

  • Fast shutter speeds
  • More light (e.g. flash)
  • Open diaphragm wider (smaller amount of f-stops)
  • Higher ISO rate
  • Shorter focal lengths
  • Stabilise camera (tripod, set camera down…)
  • Use camera’s image stabilising systems or lens (generated values can by extended by the factor 4-8) 

The technical connection between diaphragm, shutter speed and ISO rate is explained in the respective article.

With moving objects, shutter speed is important when it comes to creating an image. The following images illustrate the influence exposure has on an image. Image 1 was captured at dusk with a relatively slow shutter speed. Image 2 was captured on a bright sunny day with fast shutter speed. Notice the way the moving water is captured in different ways.

Image 1 - exposure time 2/5 sec - diaphragm 1:13 – ISO rate 100 - focal length 100mm
Lange Belichungszeit - Wasserfall


Image 2 - exposure time 1:800 sec - diaphragm 1:10 – ISO rate 100 - focal length 400mm
Surfer - kurze Belichtungszeit

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