Which shutter speed will give you the look and feel you want when you’re shooting motion? Victor Ha explains how to select the right setting and why it’s a good idea to keep a set of neutral density filters in your video bag in this tip from HDSLR Video Bootcamp for Photographers.
Photograph © Ray Nason.
When it comes to capturing video on an HDSLR, shutter speed is a key concept that some photographers have trouble understanding. Coming from a world where they can use almost any shutter speed to create an image, photographers tend to take that same mindset into creating their videos and are often disappointed with the results. Shooting with too fast a shutter speed can lead to footage that feels erratic, while using too slow a speed can produce a level of blur that makes the video seem unrealistic.
As a general rule, using the shutter speed that is closest to two times the frame rate will create the most aesthetically pleasing result. For example, if you're going to be shooting at 24 frames per second, set your shutter speed to 1/50th of a second. At 60 frames per second, use a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second.
The right shutter speed ultimately depends on the content being captured. Fast-moving subjects tend to be more compelling when captured at faster shutter speeds, while scenes involving normal movement and dialogue are usually more compelling at slower ones. However, the look and feel of your footage should always fit in with the overall look and feel of the film.
Personally, I like approaching projects with a clear-cut idea of when to use faster shutter speeds as a creative tool. For basic interviews using a tripod and all-purpose footage using a slider or monopod, I tend to stay at 1/50th of a second and use neutral density filters to control my exposure. However, if any action or motion will be involved, I often bump up my shutter speed to help give the footage the lift it needs to convey a particular mood or feeling.
Learning which shutter speed to use and when to use it takes a little practice, so make sure you take some time to get a sense of what specific shutter speeds feel like to you. Check out the video below to get an idea of how different shutter speeds will affect a single piece of footage.
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Featured photographer: Victor HaBack to list