Welcome to Photography 101!
Today we are gonna talk about the Shutter Speed!
Let's start from the begining!
So this is a DSLR camera.
Its purpose is to capture the light and give us a photo.
Interesting fact: The word "photography" was created from the Greek roots φωτός (phōtos), genitive of φῶς (phōs), "light" and γραφή (graphé) "representation by means of lines" or "drawing", together meaning "drawing with light". Source Wikipedia
So it uses the light to make the picture. It gathers and focuses the light with the lens, which directs the light to the camera sensor. The camera sensor then procceses it and give us the final product, the photograph.
As photographers, or simply camera users, we can control certain aspects of how the light is gonna reach the sensor.
Today we are gonna talk more about the Shutter Speed.
So this is a shutter. It gets activated when you press the the shutter button(duh)! It is what gives the camera the characteristic clicking sound! Basically you can think of it as curtain that opens and closes in order to allow or restrict light from reaching the sensor. Thats it!
So basically when you adjust your shutter speed, you effectively control how fast this "curtain'' opens and closes. As a result this affects the light that reaches the sensor. It is measured in a fraction of the second. So the 1/200 is like 0,005 seconds. Pretty fast right?! Most modern camera can reach more than 1/4000!
Lets see now how this affects the light and in result your photograph.
First thing that will be affected is the amount of light that is going to reach the sensor.
The faster the speed is, like 1/4000 (0,00025 seconds), the less time the shutter will remain open.
So if the "curtain" closes that fast it will allow LESS light to reach the sensor, less light means darker picture.
Now the other thing that it affects is how moving subjects will appear in your photo.
The faster the shutter speed, the more stable a moving object will appear, e.x a guy running.
The slower the shutter speed, the more blurred a moving object will appear.
Check the diagram below for a visual representation of what we just said:
One more thing that you should consider is that depending on what focal length lens you use, there is a lowest shutter speed that you can use in order to obtain crispy images.
Now before you start shouting let me explain!
For example, if you are using a 50mm lens and you set your shutter speed at 1/30, chances are that the image is going to be slightly blurred (unless you are using a tripod - more on that below).
Rule of the thumb says that the lowest shutter speed you can use, is that of the focal length of the lens you are using.
For example for a 50mm lens its going to be 1/50, for a 200mm lens its going to be 1/200 and so on, you get the picture!
If you are using a tripod though you can put the shutter speed as low as you wish!
Just bear in mind how that this will affect your subject, if its moving!
Using a tripod and a really low shutter speed, like 5 seconds or more, can help the sensor gather more light from the enviroment, which can be really usefull in night photography. But this is feasible only with the camera stable and not handheld! More about night photography on a later chapter!
So to sum up, the shutter speed controls how much light reaches the sensor and also affects how the motion is going to be depicted in your picture.
You can find below a few examples of how shutter speed affects images and get a visual of what we discussed today!
Try to experiment and practice and once you get familiar with it the setting will come automatically!