A Photographer’s Shutter Speed Cheat Sheet As A Handy Reference For You

In order to take to your photography to the next level, you should be able to understand and master shutter speed and the relationship to exposure. Taking things one step further, you will then see that using shutter speed as a tool to achieve stunning effects can be extremely rewarding and challenging.

Whichever way you want to work with your shutter speed, we have a chart which will help you achieve that result, and also make things a whole lot simpler!

Full stop, ½ stop, 1/3 stop

Simply by doubling, or halving the shutter speed you can change the exposure value. With the advent of digital cameras shutter speeds can now be adjusted by halves or even thirds of a stop. The cheat sheet will help you calculate your exposure.

Safe shutter speed

For photographing moving objects it is important that you use the correct shutter speed. The chart will give you an idea of how the speed affects the sharpness of the images.


You will see from the cheat sheet that a faster shutter speed means less light, while a slower speed ensures that more light reaches the sensors.

Shutter Speed Cheat Sheet DPS 700px

Artistically shooting with shutter speed cheat sheet

Birds in flight 1/2000

This is the speed which is typically used to take shots of flying birds, so that they are kept in focus. If you want the body of the bird in focus but the wings blurred you may increase the speed to 1/400th to do this.

Action sports

Speeds between 500th and 1000th are needed to ensure that the action is frozen and the edges are crisp and clear. This is essential with sports like football and soccer where the movement is so fast.

Street photography 1/250th – 1/500

Most streets are a constant movement with cars and people and shutter speed is vital so that you do not have just a whole blur of activity. The correct exposure will ensure that you avoid soft edges and blurry outlines.

Shutter Spped Cheat Sheet StreetPhotography

Landscapes 1/125th – ¼

A slower shutter speed of 1/8 or ¼ is acceptable if you are using a tripod. If you intend to shoot with a hand held camera then be sure to go for a shutter speed which is faster.

Shutter Spped Cheat Sheet Landscapes

Panning cars 1/50th -1/60th

This is used to shoot artistic scenes such as the car travelling, but the background out of focus. You’ll need a slower shutter speed to focus on the car.

Waterfalls 1/8th – 2 seconds

it will look as if the water is actually falling down the waterfall if you use a longer shutter speed. It will create a visual effect, which in fact, does not happen in reality.

Shutter Spped Cheat Sheet RunningWater

Blurring water half – 5 seconds

To create dreamy landscapes, with gentle blue skies and smooth water, you will need a shutter speed which is slower than half a second. This speed works on any slow moving water, such as oceans, lakes and ponds.

Shutter Spped Cheat Sheet Water

Fireworks 2 – 8 seconds

A slower speed will give you a blurry, overexposed picture, while a faster speed will result in specks of light against a dark sky. The happy medium is between 3-5, which will give you the best results.

Stars 15 – 25 seconds

Try using a tripod here as balance and stillness is all important. A faster speed will give you small, dim stars, while a longer shutter speed of over 30 seconds will give you a trailing effect.

Star trails

Often this effect is created with the exposure time of 15 minutes or longer. However, when done digitally you can take a series of photos with 30 seconds of exposure each. Afterwards you can then edit them together to create the wonderful trailing effect.

Source: Digital Photography School

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