Shutter speed priority mode or simply shutter priority mode is one of the semi-automatic modes to capture photographs using digital cameras. My earlier post on aperture priority mode, which is another popular semi-automatic mode, has details for beginners who can benefit from using it. Semi-automatic modes can help beginners capture professional-looking shots without using the manual mode. In these modes, unlike the manual mode, only one of the exposure values is set by the photographer, the rest are set and taken care of by the camera automatically. Gradually, with practice and experience, one can move away from the automatic and semi-automatic modes into the full manual mode. If you are new to terms like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO you may want to visit the link which explains the details.
As mentioned in my earlier post, in simple terms, in the Aperture priority or Av mode, the user sets the aperture value manually. The shutter speed and ISO values are automatically set by the camera. Similarly, in the Shutter priority mode or Tv mode, the user sets the shutter speed alone. The camera automatically sets the aperture and ISO. This is the basics of how it works. As you read further you will see you can change the ISO values or exposure component in some cases if required.
How does the shutter speed priority mode work?
Shutter priority mode is an excellent choice to freeze and capture a continuous movement or for slowing the movement of a subject. The camera's sensor gets exposed to more light or less light depending on the speed of the shutter. A faster shutter speed of 1/1000 sec will allow less light into the camera, whereas a slower shutter speed of ⅕ secs will allow more light into the camera. The faster the shutter speed, the sharper the images captured in the freeze. However, the captured images can get darker with an increase in shutter speed. To compensate for that, one can increase the ISO.
This mode is generally used to capture fast-moving subjects, frozen in action. For instance, capturing a person jumping high up in mid-air, a sportsman in action, a dance performance, a bird in flight, vehicles zooming past, people walking past, water splash, etc. In these captures, faster shutter speeds are used to show frozen movement in action. The subject captured is crisp. The pictures below are a few examples.
The shutter priority mode can also be used in captures to blur motion by using a slower shutter speed. For instance, water flowing against the rocks. Another one is a capture of a still subject in a busy street, where the movement of the surrounding folks is blurred. This is done deliberately to show motion around the subject. The photographs taken below are some examples of captures with slower shutter priority speed.
What shutter speed to set, is decided by the speed of the subject being captured and what the photographer envisions. He may want to capture a crisp image of a subject in motion or a slight blur to show movement. It may require some trials and adjusting the shutter speed to get a perfect shot.
Shutter priority mode is also a great choice for Panning. This is a technique in which a fast-moving object is captured frozen in action. The background will have moving subjects that are blurred depicting movement. The camera is panned along with the moving subject with continuous clicks. The panning technique was published in an earlier post, do check it out.
How to set the shutter speed priority mode?
To set the shutter priority mode is very simple. Turn the dial of the camera to Tv (Time Value) mode in Canon or S mode in Nikon. Then set the desired shutter speed by turning the knob. You will notice that the Aperture and ISO are automatically set when you start focussing on your subject.
What are some things to keep in mind while using this mode ?
- When using a fast shutter speed, the camera automatically selects a large aperture to get enough light. As with using wide apertures, it may cause some of the elements of the photo to be out of focus. The way to get around is to increase the ISO or the exposure component, so the desired depth of field is maintained.
- When using lower shutter speed while capturing night skies, or light trails, the bulb mode can be used as there is not enough light. However, there is a high chance of motion blur using a camera handheld. A tripod can help in such situations.
- With faster shutter speeds for example, while capturing a sports event on a cloudy day with sunlight, the light can keep changing from sunny to shady. This can cause the aperture to vary. There is also a chance of running out of aperture for a very high shutter speed. In this case, you may need to increase ISO or the exposure component to increase the light.
Thank you for reading and hope you have a great time exploring the shutter priority mode. If you have any tips to add, I would love to hear in the comments below.
P.S . All Image credits Pexels.com , Modified using Adobe Photoshop CC: Inspiresn
So many useful tips, beautifully explained.
Thank you so much Neetha!
I had no idea about any of this. Photography is so technical. I have a renewed sense of respect for photographers.
Yes truly , the technical aspect of photography is really cool. I have also always been in awe of photographers who use the technical knowledge and creativity to make exceptional photos. Thank you so much for stopping by!
This is some great information and once I get my camera I am definitely coming back to this and following all your useful tips!!
Glad to hear this information is useful to you. Hope you have a fun time capturing in the shutter priority mode . Thank you so much for the comments!
This is exactly what I needed to practice tonight before a wrestling tournament tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!
Wonderful, hope you have a fun time capturing the moments in action ! My pleasure to share and Thank you for stopping by.
Thank you for sharing these tips. They were really helpful to me.
It's my pleasure to share , so glad to hear they are useful to you. Thank you!
I've just started learning more about photography so this is super helpful! Thanks for the tip!
Wonderful to hear that, Thank you so much for the lovely comment!
These shots are amazing. Thanks for the tip!
Thank you so much!
Thanks a lot!
Truly so useful, and timely post Nisha! I'm trying to take natural portraits of my toddler and having so much difficulty , because of the motion, I've learnt tricks from your post and I'll try it out, thanks so much for sharing these tips!
Thank you so much Aarthi for the wonderful comments. Yes absolutely this mode of photography is best suited for capturing active kids 🙂 .Have a fun time clicking.
Its quite some time I had a camera in my hands, so thank you for reminding me how amazing art photography is. Its time to learn again.
Thank you so much .Hope you have a fun time with the camera and art photography!
Nice to know. I am not really into photography but it this great to know the basics of how to make good shots for fast-moving objects. Thank you for making it easy to understand. Will try to explore my cam more and apply what I have just read. Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment! So happy to hear that my explanation was easy to understand , I tried my best to put it in simple words. Have fun exploring your camera.
Wow this is fab, so many photography tips that are spot on and you have explained really well. thanks for sharing this with us x
I agree Shutter priority mode is a really easy and cool way to capture shots. I am so glad to hear my explanation was easy to understand. Appreciate your kind comments! Thank you.
I absolutely prefer doing everything in manual mode but learning about the Av and Tv modes makes me curious to go and give it a try sometime soon.
Thank you so much for the comments ! Yes I agree once you are used to full manual mode , the other modes may not seem much. However I do use them once in a while to see comparative shots and they are especially very useful for beginners.
I like how you real took us through the process of how and why the shutter speed and ISO work to create these images! I’ve played around with ISO a lot when photographing my daughter playing and running- lots of quick movements!
Thank you so much. Yes indeed ISO really helps , when increased shutter speed creates darker images . Wonderful to hear that you use it for photographing your daughter .This mode is perfect for such shots.
This is such an art. I love the picture with the tomato splashing in the glass so crisp, so clear, so fascinating!
Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment. This is a photo from pexels . I agree this quite an art.
Indya | The Small Adventurer
I've never tried to photograph a moving target before, but the results look amazing! The photos of people on bikes and scooters are awesome, and the splashing water is incredibly mesmerising 😍 One day I'll have to set aside some time to tinker around with my camera and give it a go!
Glad to hear that you find the panning technique fascinating. I love it as well. We had a fun time in our photography class practicing with moving cars .Enjoy clicking! Thank you for the wonderful comment.
So interesting information! Thanks so much for it!
You are very welcome! My pleasure to share. Thank you for stopping by.
When I wanted to take better pics of my dogs I did a crash course in photography trying to learn the bells and whistles of my DSLR, You explain it so much better than any manual!
Thank you so much for the kind comments Di, appreciate it! Hope you have a fun time clicking pictures of your dogs.
Nisha, Interesting information about shutter speed and camera. 💜
Thank you so much Suni!
Great tips! As I a pro I can applaud your insightful and easily put advise
Thank you so much!
Great tips! You made a complex topic easier to understand 🙂
Thank you for the kind comments Christy!