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Tips for Working With Shutter Speed

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/17/2009

Here are some tips for working with shutter speed on your digital video camera.

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    Digital Video Shutter Speed

    Shutter speed is something that really ends up affecting your video product thoroughly. The shutter speed refers to cameras of the past that had shutters that opened and closed; so the speed referred to the length of time that the shutter has to deal with an image. Now digital video cameras do not have a literal shutter. What shutter speed means to today is how long a chip codes the visuals before sending it off for processing. The higher the shutter speed the more clear the video is usually going to end up being. Deciding on shutter speed is going to be standard for the majority of video, but on some you are going to have to stray from the straight and narrow.

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    Image Clarity

    The best thing that changing shutter speed can do is help you better capture really fast motion. This comes in handy for situation like sports or fast vehicles where you may be missing some of the action because the image is faster than the shutter speed. Things will look blurred instead of coming through with the kind of clarity you would prefer. In this case you want to raise the shutter speed so that the chip collects images faster.

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    Slowing Down Shutter Speeds

    Slow Shutter Zoom Slowing down the shutter speed will make the image look much more blurred and choppy, but it will also lighten it a great deal. This often makes lowering shutter speed a last resort option for situations that are too bright. It can also be an interesting way to add a video effect or give everything a blurred feel as action occurs. This can be fine, though it is often better to do this in post-production than permanently alter the image with shutter speed. If you need to lighten the image you are also going to want to open up the iris more before trying to slow down shutter speeds.


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    Setting Shutter Speed

    You should set the shutter speed manually every time you are filming instead of using presets. These shutter speed presets will never get exactly the situation and it is better to just watch the image and decide for yourself. Try to choose a shutter speed slightly above what you think you are going to need. Many people set a standard shutter speed for most digital video at 1/120 to 1/250, but try to air on the higher side.