What is Exposure?

Shutter speed is the amount of time it takes for the camera to capture an image. When a picture is taken, the camera’s matrix or film is used to read light. When a picture is not being taken, the film or sensor is closed by the shutter. During photography, the shutter opens and the film or sensor receives the image from the lens. The time between the opening of the shutter and the shutter speed.

Photo aging is not the same as wine aging.

Aging a photograph is not the same as aging wine.

No, this article is not about alcohol, but about the concept of exposure in photography. Exposure is simple. There is no mechanical shutter itself in phones or digital cameras (soap dishes). So, the matrix is turned on/off as a shutter. However, instead of raising the mirror to move the shutter curtain, the soap dish matrix is simply updated and the principle of operation is fully preserved. Currently, trendy mirrorless cameras like the Sony ILCE-7 do not have mirrors, but are equipped with a real mechanical shutter that gives a nice click of the shutter release.

Long exposures of 0.5 seconds due to inadequate lighting

0.5 second long exposures with inadequate lighting

What is endurance measured by?

Exposure is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, and days. In most cases, shutter speeds are given in fractions of a second, since even one second is usually too long. For example, 1/60, 1/120, 1/500, and 1/4000 often have the word “sec” or “s” or “sec” added, as we have done in the pictures in this article. If the shutter speed is indicated in seconds, the second symbol is written next to the number – 2 ‘, 10 ‘, or just 3 seconds, 15 seconds. The expression “1/20th of a second” should be read as “one-twentieth of a second.

Very fast shutter speeds so you can see all of the droplets, not the entire jet

The shutter speed is so fast that you can see all of the water droplets, not the entire jet stream!

How do I set the shutter speed on my camera?

The easiest way to adjust the shutter speed on your camera is in Shutter Mode or Manual Mode. Shutter mode is usually represented by S (shutter – shutter) or Sv (shutter value – shutter value, shutter speed), although you may also find the designation Tv (time value – time value). This mode is usually found on the shooting mode selection wheel (see here for details). Shutter speed affects how long the camera shutter opens. In these modes, simply set the required shutter speed. You will need to read the instructions on how to do this.

Very slow shutter speed of 10 seconds when there is very little light

If there is very little light, a very slow shutter speed of 10 sec.

Exposure varies

There are very short (fast) shutter speeds. For modern DSLR cameras, the shutter speed limit is usually 1/4000 second, for advanced cameras it is 1/8000 second, and for special cameras the shutter speed can be 1/40.000. For example, my Nikon D5200 has a minimum shutter speed of 1/4000 sec, the Nikon D7000 has 1/8000 sec, and the old Nikon D1h and new Nikon 1 J1 have 1/16.000 sec. Fast shutter speeds are important when shooting very fast moving subjects or when using very fast lenses in bright light. The difference of twice the shutter speed is called the aperture (step). For example, the difference between a shutter speed of 1/20 sec. and 1/80 sec. is two (2) steps, or four (4) times. Learn more about how to achieve ultra-high shutter speeds with your camera.

Fast shutter speed to capture the baby's movement

High Shutter Speeds to Capture Baby’s Movement

Long exposures are also available. Typically, the shutter speed limit for modern cameras is 30 or 60 seconds. For example, the Nikon D3100 and Canon 700D cameras only allow shutter speeds up to 30 seconds. If a longer shutter speed is required, there is a “freehand” shutter speed, usually indicated as BULB (B). In this mode, pressing the shutter release button once opens the shutter, and pressing it a second time closes it. In this way, very long exposure times can be achieved. Typically, long exposures are done using a remote control or a camera cable from a tripod or fixed surface. The photo below was taken with a Nikon D90 and a ML-L3 remote control at a shutter speed of 1/13 sec. Slower shutter speeds can be used to create unusual visual effects, such as nighttime vehicle movement or the use of a light pen.

Long exposure 1/13 sec.

Long exposure of 1/13 sec. Fog photo

Flash Synchronization

There is one major problem with short exposures. When using a camera with a flash, the camera cannot synchronize the flash with the high shutter speed due to the nature of the shutter. Synchronization means that the flash gives a pulse of light and the shutter opens at the same time. Thus, a camera with a built-in flash will usually only allow shutter speeds up to 1/200 sec. This shutter speed is called the X-sync shutter speed. Some amateur cameras can flash sync up to 1/500 sec. Examples include the Nikon D40 and Nikon D70s.

Note: None of the cameras have a built-in flash. It will not work with very fast shutter speeds. Another important note is that when shooting with flash in very dark lighting conditions, some cameras will automatically set the shutter speed to 1/60 sec. as shown in the example below.

Photo was taken with 2 flashes. Standard shutter speed is now 1/60 due to automation

The photo was taken with two flashes. The standard shutter speed is now 1/60 due to automation

To be able to use a camera with a fast shutter speed and flash, an external flash must be used. For everything to work, you need a camera and flash that support Quick Sync mode. In Quick Sync mode, you can take pictures with flash at any shutter speed from 30 seconds to 1/8000 second. If you need a flash with a shorter shutter speed, see my article “How to Take Pictures Using a Flash During the Day”. Below is a shot in quick flash sync mode.

Photo taken with external flash SB-900. Very fast shutter speed, taken in FP mode - Fast sync

Taken with an external flash SB-900. Very fast shutter speed, shot in FP mode – fast sync

Shutter speed is important when shooting handheld. When shooting handheld, you must always remember about shutter speed in order to get a sharp, blur-free frame. You can also read about the best ways to shoot handhelds in the “How to Shoot Handhelds” section. Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO values are interrelated; changing one of them will change one or two others.

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Very short exposure

Very short exposure


Endurance is time. Different situations require different amounts of time for the camera to take a picture. Shutter speed is usually changed in fractions of a second. Shutter speed and aperture are key parameters in photography. Independent experimentation and testing is highly recommended.

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