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Understanding the challenge of shutter speed

From: Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR

Video: Understanding the challenge of shutter speed

When you're shooting video, you'll quickly notice that shutter speed choice is very different from video to still photography. Yes, the shutter speeds are the same, but not how we choose them for action. There is a lot of action going on with dance. If you were shooting still photos, you would have to consider how to choose your shutter speed in order to stop the action. Or you might decide to show blurred action with a slow shutter speed. So what I might do is shoot with a wide aperture and a high shutter speed such as 1000th of a second to stop the action. Or I might try something completely different such as a shutter speed of 1/10th a second to show a motion blur and give a feeling of movement in that way.

Understanding the challenge of shutter speed

When you're shooting video, you'll quickly notice that shutter speed choice is very different from video to still photography. Yes, the shutter speeds are the same, but not how we choose them for action. There is a lot of action going on with dance. If you were shooting still photos, you would have to consider how to choose your shutter speed in order to stop the action. Or you might decide to show blurred action with a slow shutter speed. So what I might do is shoot with a wide aperture and a high shutter speed such as 1000th of a second to stop the action. Or I might try something completely different such as a shutter speed of 1/10th a second to show a motion blur and give a feeling of movement in that way.

Well, I can't do either of these with normal video. First, remember that video is shot at 30 frames per second. If you divide 1 second by 30 you get 1/30th of a second, which means that 1/30th of a second is the slowest possible shutter speed for video. Now in some cameras, you can set very high shutter speeds for video. So you might think there is no limit there. Think a little about video. Remember the 30 frames per second. If you shot those 30 frames per second at 1/30th of a second, you end up with all of that entire 1 second filled with images.

There would be no gaps between each shot. Now suppose you shot at 1/1000th of a second. The total time used would be 30 1/1000th of a second for the 30 frames, meaning that 970/1000ths of that second, nearly the entire second, will be blank. That puts a huge gap between each frame that causes the video to stutter or chatter. Our eyes are not capable of creating smooth motion with that gap and so action looks unnatural.

Let's take a look at what these look like for video. First here are the dancers shot at 1/30th second. Did you notice how smooth the action looked? It looked like normal video. Now I shut the same dancers at 1/640th of a second. Did you see how chattery or stuttering the action looked? That did not look normal for video. While shooting at such high shutter speeds can give a very interesting and unusual look for an action filled scene, kind of a special effect, and in addition a high shutter speed with video is important if you want to look at still frames from that video.

Network sport, for example, will set up a special camera for freeze frames that will be shooting at very high shutter speeds just so they can go back to it and freeze the action. So if you wanted to check details of the action of these dancers, you would need a high shutter speed. But normally for video, you will be choosing a shutter speed between 1/30th and 1/90th of a second. You won't see much difference between those shutter speeds. I also find that you can get away with as high as 1/125th of a second if the motion is not too fast.

Some video purists feel that the ideal shutter speed is 2 times the frame rate. That would mean if you are shooting 30 frames per second, you would choose 1/60th of a second for the shutter speed. But one thing to remember about video is that you are limited in your shutter speed so as long as you're between 1/30th and 1/90th of a second and occasionally go up to 1/125th of a second, you'll be okay. Shutter speed choice is definitely a different thing to consider with video versus still photography.

The speeds may be the same, but the results are not.

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This video is part of

Image for Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR
Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR

33 video lessons · 25472 viewers

Rob Sheppard
Author

 
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  1. 2m 43s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. What video can do for you
      1m 27s
  2. 23m 13s
    1. Stopping time in photography vs. recording over time with video
      4m 14s
    2. Shooting for movement over time
      3m 58s
    3. Composing for constantly changing visuals
      4m 42s
    4. Adjusting to shooting for a non-RAW medium
      3m 26s
    5. Understanding resolution for video
      3m 36s
    6. Choosing a video frame rate
      3m 17s
  3. 37m 21s
    1. Comparing DSLRs with traditional camcorders
      6m 18s
    2. Comparing sensor sizes among DSLR cameras
      5m 26s
    3. Considering noise when comparing sensor sizes
      3m 8s
    4. Choosing memory cards and batteries
      3m 33s
    5. Understanding video tripods
      6m 10s
    6. Working with other camera supports
      3m 19s
    7. Using focusing aids for shooting video
      5m 29s
    8. Choosing lighting gear
      3m 58s
  4. 26m 23s
    1. Adjusting how you shoot
      6m 11s
    2. Limited "fixing" of images
      3m 42s
    3. Understanding the challenge of shutter speed
      3m 56s
    4. Getting the right exposure
      6m 59s
    5. Setting the right white balance
      5m 35s
  5. 19m 39s
    1. Understanding the importance of audio
      4m 5s
    2. Learning to work with sound
      4m 54s
    3. Gearing up for audio
      7m 19s
    4. Recording with external audio gear
      3m 21s
  6. 33m 56s
    1. Basic shooting
      6m 12s
    2. Shooting video to tell a story
      7m 27s
    3. Shooting for coverage
      4m 52s
    4. Understanding how to shoot movement
      4m 10s
    5. Shooting the moving subject
      4m 17s
    6. Creating movement
      6m 58s
  7. 6m 57s
    1. Preparing for the edit
      6m 57s
  8. 1m 47s
    1. Stay focused
      1m 47s

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