written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 12/29/2010
Here is a look at the how and why of the 1/60 shutter speed setting in digital photography.
slide 1 of 3
Slow Shutter Speed
For most people, shutter speed is not going to be something that they consciously want to change, except once they begin working with the different image specific mechanisms on their digital camera. What you will find is that shutter speed refers to the speed in which the image is capture, meaning to say the length of time that the shutter is open. The faster the shutter speed, then the quicker it lets the image come in. The slower the shutter speed, the longer that shutter will stay open to capture the image in front of it. You are going to find that lower shutter speeds are difficult when capturing motion because they stay open longer, forcing the image in front of the camera to stay more adequately still when capturing it. Faster shutter speeds will be able to get clean still images from moving objects, but lower shutter speeds will have a blur effect in these prints. The 1/60 shutter speed is the base between the more standard, movement reliable shutter speeds, and the slower ones. In general, 1/60 is a slow shutter speed and is going to have specific reasons for use and problems that will occur.
slide 2 of 3
Why Use 1/60 Shutter Speed
There are a couple of simple reasons why a digital photographer would select the 1/60 shutter speed, but more advanced photographers may pick out some very specific image qualities that come from this slow shutter speed. First off, 1/60 shutter speed is going to allow for a lot more light in the image. The slow shutter speeds stay open longer, allowing more light to come in. This will actually let darker images come out much lighter, and this can be a solution when you are photographing in very low light and the iris and ISO settings are not helping enough.
The 1/60 shutter speed is also going to almost ensure that quick motion in front of the lens is going to create blur in the final image. This can often be an artistic decision, and there really is no right or wrong way to create fine art photography. If this is the case you are going to want a little more control over the motion since the blur effect can often be unpredictable.
slide 3 of 3
Tips for 1/60 Shutter Speed
The main thing that you should look at with the 1/60 shutter speed is camera stability. As a rule of thumb, you should always use a digital camera tripod when shooting at this speed or lower. The reason for this is that the very slight movements of the camera by the photographer may actually cause the blur effect in the image, not the objects in front of the lens. This is rarely wanted since it is not controlled, though there is always a time and place for that as well.
One of the other main things to focus on is when you will actually want to lower the shutter speed to 1/60. It will lighten the image up, but usually negotiating the iris and ISO will do the same thing. This can alter things like depth of field and image grain, but it is less intrusive than a blur effect when that is not wanted.