What Is A Good Shutter Speed for Handheld?

What Is A Good Shutter Speed for Handheld?

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What is A Good Shutter Speed for Handheld?

Shutter Speed is one of the essential settings for your camera. You can play with the looks of the whole image, varying the shutter speed. Shutter Speed is solely responsible for various aspects, such as varying the photographer’s brightness and creating dramatic effects by either blurring motion or freezing the actions. In simple words, shutter speed relates to the camera shutter, which acts as a curtain to the camera. When you click an image, the shutter opens and exposes the camera sensor to light rays that strike the lens. The button firing the camera is also referred to as the “shutter button” or simply a trigger to operate the camera’s shutter. 

How is Shutter Speed measured?

Shutter Speed is one of the most deciding factors for getting the perfect shots. Generally, shutter speed is measured in terms of fractions of seconds. For instance, 1/250 implies one-two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second. 

With the high tide of technology, more efficient cameras are being launched in the market. Modern cameras like DSLR or mirrorless cameras come with a high shutter speed of up to 1/4000th of a second in today’s time. Some cameras powered with robust technology may handle 1/8000th of a second shutter speed. However, to date, the longest shutter speed on tons of mirrorless cameras or DSLRs is usually 30 seconds. You can extend the shutter speed by externally controlling it with a remote. 

how shutter speed measure

There are tons of options for shutter speed, and this puzzles you about which option to select to great the ideal shots. To get those crystal-clear images, you need a good shutter speed that complements your camera’s other settings. Choosing a fast or extremely slow shutter speed may spoil all your pictures and wipe out your valuable moments. Therefore, opting for the right shutter speed is essential. If you are curiously hunting around to get hands-on the ideal shutter speed and know how to set it, you are at the right stop. Here’s how to select the best speed. 

Shutter Speed impacts the exposure, i.e., the brightness of an image. If you employ a slower shutter speed, then your camera sensor grabs a lot of light, and the outputted picture is too bright. At the same time, if you use a quick shutter speed, the sensor gets exposed to a fraction of light, resulting in slightly dark shade pictures. 

The Reciprocal Rule and the Least Handheld Shutter Speed

Shutter speed basically validates the time for which a camera’s shutter is kept open to expose the sensor to light. Therefore, it’s also referred to as exposure time. Most modern cameras come with a shutter speed ranging from 1/8000th of a second to 30 seconds as per the model and technology. 

The main thing a photographer needs to understand if they opt for a slow shutter speed. This may make situations complicated. Holding a camera steadily for two long is a bit challenging. And may end up spoiling the pictures. If the shutter speed is too low, a little body movement will turn all your pictures blur. However, if you want to go for a slower shutter speed, always use a tripod to hold your camera steadily. 

The thumb rule to calculate the minimum handheld shutter speed is by formulating the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens. It seems a bit technical, right? Let’s break this down. 

For instance, let’s say if you are using a 40mm lens, then the slowest or the minimum shutter speed for your camera will be around 1/40th of a second. For a 100mm lens, it will be 1/100th of a second and so on. 

Shutter Speed Over 30 Seconds

Any shutter speed crossing 30 seconds presents the longest exposure to the camera. The modern-day camera does not come with a speed range of more than 30 seconds. However, depending upon the shoots, you can control the speed to exceed the 30 seconds mark with an external remote. This speed range completely smoothens all objects within the shot. Most photographers use such slow mode to add a touch of creativity to their pictures. Using this range efficiently requires expertise and carefulness. Messing up with the range will spoil the image vanishing the subjects, leaving a barely visible streak. 

Shutter Speed Between 2 Seconds and 30 Seconds 

The time between 2 seconds and 30 seconds offers your camera sensor much longer exposure to light. Therefore, any movement within the picture will instantly turn blurry. This speed adds a pinch of softness and streakiness to subjects like clouds and water. This shutter speed range is ideal for clicking pictures of landscapes at dusk or dawn or some mesmerizing images of the night sky. 

Shutter Speed Range Between 1/10th of a Second to 2 Seconds

This shutter speed range allows good exposure to the camera lens. Anything appearing within the image may turn blurry, as the speed range is slow enough. Unlike the other slow range, these speeds do not entirely smoothen the image. This range is commonly used for taking amazing landscape images. 

Shutter Speed Range Between 1/100th of a second to 1/10th of a Second

This speed range is ideal for group shots. The range between 1/100th and 1/10th is a bit confusing. Because the reciprocal of the focal length of your camera generally fall in this category. Its slow shutter speed is not entirely suitable to take sharp pictures. Always remember as you move down to slower shutter speed, you always add a pinch of shake blur to the images. 

Shutter Speed Range Between 1/500th of a second to 1/100th of a Seconds

This is one of the top-rated shutter speed ranges. The range is commendable fast enough to freeze down slow-moving objects. However, while using this range, you do not need a high ISO or wide aperture.  This speed is commonly used for portrait, wedding, street, and other handheld photography purposes. 

Shutter Speed Range Faster than 1/500th of a Second

On most modern-day cameras, the fastest shutter speed is within the range of 1/4000th of a second to1/8000th of a second. Any speed beyond this range will end up freezing even the fastest objects like a high-speed moving car. As you move towards 1/500th of a second, you can easily freeze high-speed objects. 

How to Set the Shutter Speed?

Most cameras in today’s market come with an in-built automatic shutter speed handling feature that adjusts the shutter speed automatically. However, sometimes you may need to change the speed manually for the best pictures. Here are the steps to set the shutter speed manually – 

  • Set the camera to the “Shutter Priority” mode to choose the shutter speed and the camera then automatically select a suitable aperture. 
  • You can also turn the camera to “Manual” mode to select both the shutter speed and aperture as per requirements. 
  • The cameras also come with the feature to allow the users to manually choose the ISO. 

Although you have the option to choose the shutter speed and aperture manually, it is recommended to let the camera detect the ideal setting for the shots. If you are modifying the settings, be aware of adjusting the shutter speed according to the subject, as inaccurate shutter speed can easily turn all your pictures blur. It is always advisable to use the “Shutter Priority” mode to get your camera’s ideal shutter speed. 


Knowing all the shutter speed can significantly boost your photographic experience, helping you to capture the best shots. Shutter speed plays the role of a captain of the ship while defining the exposure and overall quality of the image. With an efficient understanding of different shutter speeds, you can easily choose a good shutter speed to get incredible pictures, with the perfect blend of ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed.

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