One of the most curious things happened when DSLR video started making waves in the world of consumer and professional video. We started paying attention to shutter speed and how it impacts the quality of video.
Consumers rarely (if ever) paid any attention to shutter speed beyond taking still photos. It’s a measurement used to determine the amount of time the sensor in a camera is exposed to the light in order to capture an image. Slower shutter speeds resulted in blurry photographs in the unstable hand of a photographer, at the advantage of needing less grain-inducing ISO in order to present a bright picture in a dark environment.
With DSLR video, the sensor is kept wide open and you don’t hear a shutter clicking away as you shoot. Even so, the shutter setting you use can have a profound impact on the quality of the video you produce. Not only does it affect light and color, but it also has an impact on how motion is portrayed on video.
For example, a slower shutter speed can result in motion that would appear to be blurry, especially when the video is paused. At higher speeds, the picture becomes more crisp. There are times when you would want to use a slower shutter speed in order to enhance the effect of fast movement, though you are less likely to need it when filming a closeup of someone’s face, where lip movement is better presented as crisp movements.
In the above video, Dave Dugdale from LearningDSLRVideo.com shares his thoughts on shutter speed and how it impacts video.
What is the Ideal Shutter Speed Setting?
The ideal shutter speed depends largely on the frame rate your camera is recording at. You generally want to keep the shutter speed at double, or a multiple of that double. For example, if you are filming at 30 FPS, you’ll want a shutter speed of 1/60 or 1/120 (or as close as possible). At 24 FPS, you might have a hard time dialing in your shutter speed to match 1/48 or 1/92, but keeping it at 1/50 and/or 1/100 should work just fine.
Remember, the higher your shutter speed, the dimmer the picture. If your camera has to use additional ISO or a higher aperture to make up for the loss of light a faster shutter speed introduces, you could lose out on clarity. Higher ISO introduces noise and grain to your picture, while a wider aperture reduces the focus area.
This can be good for artistic shots where a blurred background is optimal, but too much ISO makes it hard to keep a moving subject in focus. Multiple subjects at varying distances from the lens would be nearly impossible to keep in constant focus with a larger aperture setting.
Like any setting on your camera, the best way to master it is to give it a try. Take a trip out to the local park and shoot video of the wildlife you see. Try various shutter speeds and aperture settings to find what works best for you in various lighting conditions.
photo by Axel Bührmann