Archivi categoria: shutterspeed

This Shutter Speed Chart is a Simple Photography Cheat Sheet

When we talk about the Shutter Speed in photography, the first thing that comes to mind is its relationship to Exposure. Shutter speed is an essential part of Exposure Triangle (Aperture, ISO, Shutter Speed) and it helps photographers to get perfectly exposed photos.

But my belief is that to understand and to master Shutter Speed for taking the perfectly exposed images is the easiest part of the equation. The more exciting, but at the same time more challenging, part is to learn how to use Shutter Speed as the artistic tool in our photography. By using different settings of Shutter Speed we can achieve some interesting effects.

The goal of Shutter Speed Chart is to summarize and illustrate the different aspects of Shutter Speed to help photographers to master Shutter Speed to get well-exposed photos and to embrace it as an artistic tool. You can download the full PDF version here.

Full Stop, 1/2 Stop, 1/3 Stop

We all know that together with the Aperture and ISO, the Shutter Speed controls the exposure of your image.

And for a long time, it was a pretty simple and straightforward equation, by changing the shutter speed from 1/200s to 1/100s we double the amount of light (1 stop) that reaches the film or sensor. You keep shutter open twice longer you get twice the amount of light.

But with the introduction of digital cameras, we are not restricted to changing the shutter speed by one stop only. Some cameras allow us to change the shutter speed by half (1/2 stop) and some cameras by third (1/3 stop).

The shutter speed chart helps us to do exposure estimations and calculations easier.

Safe Shutter Speed

When you have moving objects in your composition, it is paramount to use the right shutter speed in order to get sharp photos. The Safe Shutter Speed illustration let us visualize that by using the shutter speed slower than 1/100s we enter the potentially unsafe area with the regards to sharp photos goal.


This is a simple illustration of correlation between shutter speed values and the amount the light reaching the camera’s sensor. The faster the shutter speed, the less light gets in; the longer the shutter speed, the more light gets in.

Shutter Speed Chart and Types of Shooting

This is what I call a Shutter Speed Cheat Sheet that helps photographers to use a shutter speed as the creative tool.

Birds in Flight 1/2000

When wildlife photographers track and photograph a bird in flight, it requires an extreme shutter speed of 1/2000s to get the bird perfectly sharp. The variation of this technique is to reduce the shutter speed to 1/400s will result in a sharp body of the bird but blurry wings. This is a more creative approach wildlife photography.

Action Sports 1/500s – 1/1000s

You probably do not need an extreme shutter speed when photographing a golfer putting on the green, but any sports that involve fast movements and actions will need special attention to shutter speed value. Photographing professional football game or your kids playing soccer will require shutter speed between 1/500s and 1/1000 to freeze the action and get sharp photos.

Street Photography 1/250 – 1/500

In general, when photographing street scenes, that scene is in constant motion. You have people walking towards you or crossing the street, cars moving and stopping, birds, bicycles, and more. The proper shutter speed is paramount, not only for getting the right exposure, but also for avoiding blurry or soft images.

Landscapes 1/125 – 1/4

It’s hard to pinpoint the shutter speed range for landscapes because the techniques and the setting you use will vary greatly depending on if you’re shoot hand-held or on a tripod. The slower shutter speed of 1/8 or 1/4 is totally acceptable when using a tripod, but if you shoot hand-held, you need to reduce the value to get sharp photos.

Panning Cars 1/15 – 1/60

Planning is one of the most interesting creative techniques, and you need to know your shutter speed to do it. Using a longer shutter speed (1/15 -1/60) and tracking the moving object (car) when the shutter is open lets us create an effect where the main object is in focus while the environment around it is blurred.

Waterfalls or Fast Running Water 1/8 – 2 sec

Here we are entering a more creative approach to photography in general, and shutter speed in particular. Photographing a fast running water with a longer shutter speed allows us to create a visual effect that does not exist in real life. You open up the shutter speed for a longer period of time and let moving water to create motion blur.

Blurring Water 0.5 – 5 sec

Blurring the water is a staple in seascape photography. Nothing makes a seascape look dreamier than a long exposure effect in the water. When photographing ‘the ocean, sea, lakes, and rivers where movement in the water is not very fast, you need a slower shutter speed value (compared to shooting the waterfalls) in order to create this silky and smooth effect in the water.

Fireworks 2-4 sec

It is not easy to photograph fireworks—you’re shooting at night, in the dark, with bright lights popping up randomly all over the place. The logic here is to open the shutter speed long enough to capture the entire lifespan of the shoot, but be careful.

If you use a fast shutter speed and you will get a tiny unimpressive light in the vastness of the dark sky; if you use a shutter speed that’s too long, you will achieve only an overexposed, blurry, and unnatural effect. I find a shutter speed between 3 and 4 seconds works the best.

Stars (Astrophotography) 15-25 sec

Shooting astrophotography allows us to capture things that are not visible to naked eye. By opening the shutter for a long period of time, we can amplify the dim lights of the stars into a full-blown celestial light show… but you need to strike a right balance.

If you use a fast shutter speed, the stars will be tiny and dim; but if you use a speed longer than 30 seconds, you’ll start to get a star trail effect thanks to the movement of Earth. A shutter value between 15 and 25 seconds will produce stars that are both sharp and bright.

Star Trails – One shot at 15 minutes, or multiple shots at 30 seconds

This technique enables us to take advantage of steadily spinning Earth. If you open the shutter long enough, you can capture the trailing effect of the stars.

The traditional technique requires the shutter speed value of 15 minutes and longer. But with the digital workflow you can simulate the same trailing effect by taking series of photos, let say 120 of them, with 30 sec exposure and blending them together in Photoshop. In this way, you can create the effect of 60 min exposure without the noise this would otherwise create.

About the author: Viktor Elizarov is a travel photographer based in Montreal, Canada. He’s also the man behind PhotoTraces, a travel photography blog and community of over 60,000 photographers. Visit Tutorials section of his blog for free tutorials and free Lightroom presets. This post was also published here.

Image credits: Header image by Neurovelho.

A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO


This guide to photographic exposure aims to help you take full control of your camera. I often tell my students that I want them to move away from the idea “taking a photograph” and towards the idea of “making a photograph.” I teach them how to take the camera off auto mode and take full control of the settings themselves in order to create the photograph they want.

Why let the camera decide these things for you? Do you let your mother choose your clothes? Maybe some of you do, I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t want to know.

I hope to do the same for the readers of this tutorial. I want you take control of your camera. In order to do this, it’s essential to understand the 3 components of what we call “The Exposure Triangle”. These are: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. By the end of this tutorial, you should understand what these 3 components are and how they affect the final photograph. You will also learn how to use the 3 main shooting modes on your camera: aperture priority, shutter priority and manual. Finally, I’ll explain how to decide which settings to choose as you prepare to shoot a scene.

What is exposure?

First of all we need to define what we mean by exposure. Exposure refers to the amount of light that enters the camera and hits the digital sensor. Basically, it is a measure of how dark or bright a photograph is.

If the image is too bright, it is overexposed. Too much light has been allowed to hit the sensor. If it is too dark, it is underexposed. Not enough light has been allowed to hit the sensor. We can control how much light reaches the sensor by changing the aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings.

Exposure is measured in ‘stops’. For example, if you find that your photo has turned out too dark (underexposed), you may increase your exposure by a ‘stop’ or two to make it brighter. Conversely, if the image is overexposed, you may need to decrease the exposure by a stop or two. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ exposure, only the right exposure for the photograph you are creating. Some photos such as night shots are supposed to be dark while photos taken in the snow for example are supposed to be bright.

Measuring exposure using a histogram

All digital cameras allow you to see a visual representation of exposure using the histogram. Check your camera’s manual to find out how to turn on the histogram feature. There was a member of my photography club who would tell all new members to RTFM. This stood for ‘Read the Manual’. I’ll let you figure out what the ‘f’ stood for yourself.

The histogram is a graph that represents the spread of tones in a photograph, from the shadows, to the mid tones to the highlights. It allows you to check if the photograph has any shadows that are too dark or ‘clipped’ and to see if you have any highlights that are too bright or ‘blown out’.

Clipped shadows are areas of pure black and contain no detail. Blown out highlights are areas of pure white and also contain no detail. Very generally speaking, you will want to avoid both of these. That said, I personally don’t mind a little clipping in the shadows as it adds punch to the image.

If you look at the histogram below, you will see that some of the graph is right up against the left hand axis of the graph. This means that some of the shadows are clipped. If you look at the right, you will see that a very tiny amount of highlights have been blown out as a very small part of the graph is up against the right hand edge. Sometimes this is unavoidable for example with street lights or if the sun in the frame. Remember, that the histogram is only a guide.


Examples of underexposed and overexposed photographs

Below we have examples of an underexposed photo, an overexposed photo and a correctly exposed photo.


Underexposed photograph: This photograph is underexposed by about 3 stops. You can see that the histogram is completely bunched up to the left as a result. There are lots of clipped shadows on the underside of the gondolas.


Overexposed photograph: This image is overexposed by about 3 stops and as you can see, the histogram is bunched up to the right as a result. There are a lot of clipped highlights is this photo. In fact, the entire sky is pure white and contains no detail whatsoever.


Correctly exposed photograph: The photo above has the right exposure for the scene in question. You can see on the histogram that there is a good spread of shadows, mid-tones and highlights. It’s quite a bright image as you can see from the fact that the graph spikes on the right of the graph.

There is a little clipping in the shadows which I don’t mind as it adds some punch to the shot. As you can see from the right hand side of the graph, there are some very bright areas but the highlights are not blown out.

Using the highlights warning feature on your camera

It’s always a good idea to check the histogram after you’ve taken a shot in order to prevent too many clipped shadows and blown out highlights. Most digital cameras also have a ‘highlight warning’ feature.

This makes areas of the image that have blown highlights flash on your screen. It’s an incredibly useful feature and I keep it turned on all the time. Below, you can see how the highlight warning looks on the overexposed gondola photo. A huge amount of the photo is flashing because so many of the highlights have been blown out.

What is aperture?


The aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens through which the light enters the camera. The size of this opening can be adjusted and the aperture size is measured in f-stops. The image on the right shows you exactly what the aperture on a lens looks like.

When you change the f-stop value, you change the size of the opening. Here’s the weird thing though. The higher the f-stop, the smaller the opening.

Take a look at the chart below to see what different apertures look like at different f-stops. On the far left, you can see that setting an aperture of f16 will result in a small opening. Choosing an aperture of f1.4 will result in a very wide opening.


How does your choice of aperture affect the photograph?

The most noticeable effect your choice of aperture has on the photograph is the depth of field. What do we mean by this exactly? In very simple terms, depth of field refers to the amount of the image that is sharp. What does this mean in practice?

If you use a wide aperture, the depth of field will be shallow. Only part of the image is sharp and the rest will be out of focus or blurred. Look at the picture on the left below. The cat is perfectly sharp but the background is blurred. Using a wide aperture works well for portrait style photographs as it makes the subject of the shot really stand out against the blurred background.


In this case, the depth of field extends from about the tip of the cat’s nose to just behind its head, no more than a few centimeters (from point A to point B in the diagram). Anything not in this range, either in front of it or behind will not be sharp. For this shot, I used a wide aperture of f/3.5.


When you use a narrow aperture, the depth of field is deep. When the depth of field is deep, all of the photograph from foreground to background is sharp.

Take a look at the photo below taken in the Dublin Docklands. Everything from the dock cleat in the foreground to the bridge in the background is sharp. In this case the depth of field is several hundred metres, extending right from the foreground to the background of the scene. In this case, I used a narrower aperture of f/11.


Most of the time, we want to achieve a deep depth of field when shooting landscapes. We want all of the image to be pin sharp.

The mid range apertures (around f/8) are good for shooting handheld for example when doing street photography. You get a good balance between having enough depth of field and fast enough shutter speeds to shoot hand held. We’ll discuss shutter speeds in more detail later.

The chart below gives you a good idea how different apertures will affect the depth of field in your photographs. You can see that as the aperture gets wider, the pyramid in the background becomes more blurred.


What is shutter speed?

The shutter speed refers to the length of time the opening in the lens remains open to let light into the camera and onto the sensor. The shutter speed can be as fast as 1/10,000 of a second or as slow as several minutes.

How does your choice of shutter speed affect the photograph?

Fast shutter speeds have the effect of freezing motion in the scene you are photographing. Conversely, slow shutter speeds will blur motion in a scene. Both of these can be used to great creative effect.

The shutter speed settings on your camera provide a great way to experiment with capturing motion in your landscape photography. This is especially the case with moving water.



By using a slow shutter speed (1/2 second), we can blur the water in a waterfall for example and create a sense of motion even though it’s a still image. You can see this in this photo of a waterfall in Ireland above. When working with slow shutter speeds, it is essential to use a tripod otherwise camera shake will result in a completely blurred photo.

In the second photograph taken in Tunisia, I used an extremely long shutter speed of 160 seconds. To achieve this, I used a 10 stop neutral density filter. This reduced the light entering the camera down to 1/1000th of what it would be without the filter. This, in turn, allowed me to set such a long exposure time.

As you can see, the clouds moved across the sky during the almost 3 minutes it took to take the photo resulting in the blurred effect.

You can also use fast shutter speeds to freeze motion like in this black and white seascape below.


For this photograph, I wanted to freeze the motion of the waves crashing against the shore. A fast shutter speed of 1/320th of a second ensured that the wave seems to ‘freeze’ in time. Landscapes that include moving water afford great opportunities to experiment with different exposure times.

The chart below shows how different shutter speeds would effect the sense of motion if you were photographing a person running. Fast shutter speeds will freeze the motion. This technique is often used in sports photography. The slower the shutter speed becomes, the more blurred the person running becomes in the photograph.


How do you know if your shutter speed is fast enough to shoot handheld?

There is a very simple trick to check if your shutter speed is fast enough to shoot hand held. Simply look at the focal length you have zoomed in to on the lens.

On the lens below, the focal length is set at about 30mm. In this case I simply multiply the focal length by 2 and divide it into 1 to get the minimum shutter speed required to shoot hand held. So, 30 x 2 is 60 therefore the minimum shutter speed required to shoot hand held is 1/60 of a second.


This means that you can get away with using slower shutter speeds when the angle is wider. It’s obviously harder to keep the camera steady when zooming in. Think of how difficult it is to keep your sights on an object when using binoculars. It’s the same principle.

If you find that the light is low and you can’t get a fast enough shutter speed, you can increase the ISO. In the next section, I’ll explain what ISO is and how it effects the photograph.

What is ISO?

The ISO refers to how sensitive the digital sensor in your camera is to light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to light. Setting a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera sensor to light. Most cameras have ISOs ranging from about 50 or 100 ISO right up to 16,000 ISO or higher.

How does your choice of ISO affect the photograph?

As you increase the ISO value, your camera sensor becomes more sensitive to light. This means that you can achieve higher shutter speeds. This can be extremely useful when shooting in low light without a tripod. You may find that shooting at 100 ISO results in shutter speeds that are too slow to hand hold without camera shake. By increasing the ISO to 800 ISO for example, you may find that your shutter speed is now fast enough to hand hold.

You may be wondering: why not just use a really high ISO every time to ensure a sharp photo? The problem is that there is a trade off when it comes to image quality. The higher the ISO used, the more digital noise will be present in the image. Digital noise results in a graininess that can have a negative effect on image quality. Take a look at the labels of this bottle of wine shot at different ISOs.

The first one was shot at 100 ISO.


The second photo was shot at a very high ISO 3200. You can see that the graininess has degraded the image quality quite a lot.


When I finished taking these shots of the bottle of wine, I of course sampled the contents. I… eh… wanted to learn about French culture. Funnily enough, after I finished the bottle, the image quality from my own eyes degraded somewhat.

The chart below illustrates the effect of ISO on image quality.


This does not mean that you should not increase your ISO when the need arises. The example of ISO 3200 above is quite extreme. Most of the newer cameras actually handle higher ISOs very well and retain high image quality. I know that in low light conditions, I prefer to increase my ISO a little to avoid camera shake even it it means a little graininess. It’s usually not enough to seriously degrade the image quality though.

Next, we’re going to take a look at how to actually set the aperture and shutter speed in your camera. There are 3 modes you can use: aperture priority, shutter priority and manual.

How to use Aperture Priority Mode on your camera


Aperture priority mode is a semi-manual mode. When using this mode, you choose the aperture you want and the camera chooses an appropriate shutter speed in order to achieve a correctly exposed photo. To switch your camera to aperture priority, turn the dial on top of your camera to ‘A’.

This is actually the shooting mode I use 90% of the time when shooting urban landscapes. I usually choose an aperture of around f16 to ensure maximum depth of field and then let the camera choose the correct shutter speed. As I usually use a tripod, I am generally not too concerned about the shutter speed being too slow.

If I am shooting hand held, I always keep an eye on the shutter speed the camera has chosen just to make sure it isn’t too slow. If it is too slow, I use a wider aperture which will give a faster shutter speed as the opening is larger and lets the light in faster. I also have the option of increasing the ISO to get a faster shutter speed.

How to use Shutter Priority Mode on your camera


Shutter priority is basically the opposite to aperture priority. You set the shutter speed you want and the camera sets the aperture. To switch your camera to shutter priority, turn the dial on top of your camera to ‘S’. On Canon models, this mode is actually called “Tv” mode which stands for “time value”.

I personally don’t use this mode too often. It can be useful if you need to set a minimum shutter speed in order to avoid camera shake. You may also want a specific longer shutter speed in order to create motion blur. I tend to use manual mode in this case as it gives me greater control over the shutter speed and aperture together. More on manual mode later.

How to use the Exposure Compensation feature on your camera


Sometimes when you use aperture or shutter priority modes, you may find that your images are too bright or too dark. Sometimes the lighting conditions may confuse the camera and it results in the image being underexposed or overexposed. Thankfully, there is a way of fixing this. It’s called exposure compensation. To switch this on, press the button with the plus/minus symbols.

This will bring up a chart that goes from -5 to +5. Sometimes these numbers are different and may only range from -3 to +3 depending on the camera. This chart represents the exposure of your photograph. So how does it work?

When you are using aperture priority mode for example, the camera will set a shutter speed that makes the camera expose at the “0” point of this chart, right in the middle. In theory, this should be the correct exposure. In reality though, this is not always the case. As we said, some photos are supposed to be bright and others are supposed to be dark.

If you find that your photo is too bright or overexposed, you simply dial down the exposure by a stop or whatever you think is needed. When you turn the dial to the left (RTFM to see which dial), you can set the exposure at -1 for example. This will make the photograph 1 stop darker. When you turn the dial to the right, you can make the photo brighter. You may need to experiment a little to get the exposure you want.


How does exposure compensation work exactly? If you are using aperture priority mode and dial the exposure down 2 stops for example, the aperture will stay the same but the shutter speed will change to a faster speed so that less light enters the camera and the picture is made darker.

The opposite happens when you dial up the exposure. The aperture stays the same but the shutter speed will get longer to let more light in and make the image brighter. As already mentioned, keep an eye on the shutter speed if you are shooting hand held. Don’t allow it to become too slow in order to avoid camera shake.

Exposure compensation works in the same way when using shutter priority mode except that the shutter speed will stay the same and the aperture will be changed by the camera accordingly.

How to use Manual Mode on your camera


Here comes the scary one: manual mode! When you set the camera to manual mode, you set both the aperture and shutter speed. How do you know what combination to use to ensure the right exposure? It’s actually quite easy. When you switch to manual mode on the dial (M), you again see an exposure chart that is exactly the same as the exposure compensation chart.

You then turn the aperture and shutter speed dials until the exposure is set to 0. Check your manual to see which dials to use.

Here is an example of how I might use manual mode when shooting a landscape:

  1. I decide what aperture I want to use. If it’s a landscape, I might pick an aperture of about f/16 to ensure plenty of depth of field. After all, I want everything to be sharp from the foreground to the background. I turn the aperture dial until, the aperture is set to f/16.
  2. I then turn the shutter speed dial until the marker on the exposure chart is at zero. This in theory should mean that I now have the correct combination of aperture and shutter speed to ensure the right exposure.
  3. I then check that I am happy with both the aperture and shutter speed and make some adjustments if necessary.
  4. If I find that the shot is too bright or too dark I retake it after moving the dial to either minus a stop or plus a stop (or more as the case may be). The ‘right’ exposure may not always be at the “0” point in the middle. As I have said a few times now, some photos are supposed to be bright or dark.

How do I decide which settings to use in manual mode?

This is where your own creativity comes in to play. I usually decide which is the most important element in the photo and set this first.

As I mainly shoot urban landscape photos, this means I usually set the aperture first as ensuring plenty of depth of field is my biggest concern. I then set the shutter speed. It’s basically a balancing act and with practice you will gain an intuition for what settings you need to achieve the vision you have for a particular photograph.

What if the highlights are blown out or the shadows are clipped no matter what settings I use?

Sometimes the contrast in a scene is simply too much for your camera to handle no matter which combination of aperture and shutter speed you use. In this case, bracketing can be used to solve the problem.

When I bracket a photo, I usually take 3 photos of the same scene, one with the exposure set to “0”, another deliberately underexposed by 2 stops and a final one deliberately overexposed by 2 stops. I can then combine these these in post-processing to get the ‘perfect’ exposure. There are several methods of doing this which I will cover in a future tutorial.

In the example below, I took 3 exposures of the Charles Bridge in Prague and blended them in post production to produce a single photograph with plenty of detail in all areas of the frame.



The final photograph is a blend of all 3 images, leading to plenty of detail throughout the image. There are also no clipped shadows or blown out highlights. As you can see, I also cropped the final image to create a better composition.

I hope that after reading this tutorial that you will be confident to take your camera off auto mode and take control of the settings yourself. In this way, you can move from merely taking a photography to making a photograph. Don’t be afraid to experiment with all of the settings you have just learnt about. Over time, you won’t even have to think too much about the settings.

I often advise students to go on a photo shoot where they specifically experiment with different apertures, another to experiment with shutter speed and so on.

About the author: Barry O Carroll is a Dublin, Ireland-based photographer specializing in landscape photography with a particular emphasis on urban landscapes, street scenes and architecture photography. You can find more of his work on his website or by following him on Facebook and Twitter. This article was also published here.

The Power of Shutter Speed In Two Photographs


Shutter speed is one of the first elements of photography that you learn as a beginner. Learning how to control your camera’s shutter speed to make sure your images are sharp and well exposed is Photography 101. Learning how to use shutter speed creatively to manipulate the look and feel of an image is something else entirely, and something that I continue to experiment with a lot.

No doubt you have heard of and seen long exposure techniques used to create beautiful images with smooth, milky water and clouds. Long exposure photography is addictive, and I use the techniques a lot, especially when I’m photographing seascapes. Leaving your shutter open for extended periods, from seconds to minutes, opens up a whole new world of possibilities. You can make a crowd of people disappear, capture stunning streaks of stars crossing the night sky, or turn crashing waves into haunting mist. Alternatively, faster shutter speeds can freeze motion.

The following two images illustrate the power of your camera’s shutter speed to create very different images. Despite the composition being almost identical and the images being captured within minutes of each other, they not only look different, they feel different.

They were captured recently on the rocks under Mt Maunganui, New Zealand. The waves were BIG this particular night, and I eventually had to abandon the spot due to the rising tide bringing them closer and closer to the point that I really wasn’t safe.

Waves crash over rocks under Mt Maunganui, New Zealand
1/5s, f/11, ISO 200
Long exposure landscape photo of rocks at sunset, Mt Maunganui, New Zealand
107s, f/11, ISO 400

As you can see, the the 1/5-second exposure freezes the waves beautifully while the 107-second exposure blurs the waves into a mist. The images have also been processed slightly differently to help with the different feel I was wanting to create.

Creating very long exposures requires neutral density (ND) filters, which are very dark and limit the amount of light being allowed through the lens and into the camera’s sensor. I personally use the Lee Big Stopper, but there are a number of options.

Next time you’re photographing a scene with movement, try experimenting with your shutter speed to create different images and play around with how different amounts of movement and blur make the images feel.

Leave a link to your images that show creative use of shutter speed in the comments, I would love to see them!

About the author: Rowan Sims is a landscape and travel photographer based in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. His images are available as high quality stock and fine art prints and canvas. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This post was originally published here.

Red Dot Camera App Brings the Leica M Experience to Your iPhone


If you’ve always wanted to play around with the idea of using a Leica M rangefinder but don’t want to shell out the cash, Lifelike Apps has a new app for you. Called Red Dot Camera, the iOS app aims to bring the feel of a Leica camera to your iPad or iPhone; it was “inspired by the retro craftsmanship of the classic M camera series” and does “without the interference of gimmicky filters.”


Red Dot Camera allows you to control your smartphone’s ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, and focus. There is also a simple exposure compensation dial for quickly selecting how you want your image exposed without needing to fiddle with real dials. The app allows ISO to be adjusted between 30 and 1600, while the shutter speed can be set between 1/2 and 1/800 of a second.



The focus of your device can be adjusted using a wheel displayed on the right-hand side of the screen. Just pinch with your fingers and a magnified patch appears at the center of the frame for a higher level of precision. Other features include display frame lines, a self-timer with three countdown settings, and a classic black and white mode.


Red Dot Camera can be purchased from the Apple App Store for $3.

(via Red Dot Camera via DPReview)

A Discussion About the Term ‘Shutter Speed’ Being a Misnomer That Stuck


The word “speed” is used a lot in the world of photography equipment — things like lens speed, film speed, and shutter speed. But speed is generally used to refer to how quickly something travels or operates per unit time, rather than a period of time itself. So is the term “shutter speed” a misnomer?

A reader tells us that they were recently trying to explain the basic concept of shutter speed to a friend, when she suddenly realized that the term is a strange choice of words. Instead of “exposure time,” photographers often talk of shutter speed to refer to how long the shutter curtain allows the sensor or film to be exposed by light.

After doing some research into this issue, the reader stumbled upon the Talk page on Wikipedia for the article on “shutter speed.” It turns out the editors of the article on Wikipedia had quite a lengthy discussion about this issue between 2006 and 2008.

Here are some snippets from the long debate that ensued:

Speed is normally measured as something per second

Shutter speed is the conventional misnomer for exposure time; it’s measured in seconds.

The terminology is confusing. I would expect speed and time to have an inverse relationship – when something is done with more speed (faster), it takes less time and vice versa. If shutter speed is a misnomer as Dicklyon says, it should be noted and explained in the article.

The shutter mechanisms generally snap open at a constant fast speed, then wait, then snap shut at a constant fast speed. So taking “speed” literally as distance per time is misleading, and not what’s intended. There’s also lens speed and film speed, where no such strained analogy would be attempted.

Any physics book and many high school algebra books tell you that speed is distance divided by time. You cannot correctly say speed is any kind of time.

Generations of photographers have stumbled on the definition of shutter speed–the most fundamental of concepts. This is an encyclopedia and a place where it should be correct. You just can’t go around saying confusing things in an encyclopedia.

The photography field uses lens speed, film speed, shutter speed, and such, all unlike the physics speed you’re referring to. It’s just a different use for the same word. Don’t try to warp it to your preconceptions from a different field.

Perhaps the article should be called Exposure Time and should ignore shutter speed except for a footnote. Exposure time is the fundamental quantity. Shutter speed is the derivative quantity.

Though technically wrong, the use of “shutter speed” to mean “exposure time” is long established in photographic terminology, and as Dick mentioned, it is not the prerogative of Wikipedia editors to correct such wrongs, however annoying we may find them.

The purist approach would be to move the article to Exposure time; use of that term in so much of the formal photographic literature would make for good justification. But if the page were so moved, the term used in the article would need to follow the page move, and that might be more likely to confuse than to educate—the opposite of the purpose of an encyclopedia. A more practical approach would be to indicate in the lead section that “shutter speed” is a misnomer and use the term in the rest of the article.

The conversation ended in November 2008, a little over 2 years after it began. Here’s what the Wikipedia page for “Shutter Speed” looks like today (“exposure time” redirects to the main “shutter speed” page rather than the other way around):


Head over to Wikipedia if you’d like to read the entire discussion yourself. It weighs in at nearly 6,000 words.

Talk:Shutter speed [Wikipedia]

Image credits: Header photograph by Steve Snodgrass