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Thread: Does shutter speed matter in term of portrait ?

  1. #1

    Does shutter speed matter in terms of portrait ?

    Hi, and good day to you all . I have done a research on using the ideal shutter speed , but I could not find one. Anyone can guide me to the best setting and why.
    Thanks in advance
    Last edited by Ameer; 28th October 2011 at 08:28 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Does shutter speed matter in terms of portrait ?

    I think all you can realistically achieve is to set the shutter speed for the conditions of each shot.

    My quick thought process at the time of shooting (although the speed does appear to be reducing as I get older) is to run through the possible problems.

    Is the shutter speed likely to cause camera shake? Consider the size of lens, if not using a tripod, and the minimum shutter speed should be equal to the lens size; eg 1/200 for a 200 mm lens. But you can push this a little further with stabilised lenses.

    Is the subject moving? How much to allow for this situation is something which needs to be learned over time. But relatively slow movement can require a fairly fast shutter speed. For example, I would consider 1/500 to be too slow for a soaring bird; and 1/1000 would be insufficient if it was flapping it's wings. Double those settings may well be required.

    Is the background moving? Often, a slightly blurred background can be desirable, but sometimes you need to see reasonable detail in the background.

    Am I moving? You need to factor this in if it occurs. For example, a lot of my photography is done from a boat, which will be moving with the waves even when stationary.

    Will a different shutter speed allow me to use a better aperture? And take ISO into account when considering this.

    After taking all that into account, using the slowest possible speed often gives better results and enables the use of a lower ISO. But if in doubt I would always prefer to risk a bit of noise (from a higher ISO) than to get blur from too slow a shutter speed.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 28th October 2011 at 08:49 PM.

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    Re: Does shutter speed matter in terms of portrait ?

    I agree with Geoff. However for me, there are two important two variables regarding shutter speed outdoors (without flash). They are: (1) achieving the minimum shutter speed I need to reduce camera shake or subject movement; (2) the interface between shutter speed, ISO and the f/stop (this is true in all photography) with the f/stop having the greatest impact on the portrait.

    Using flash-fill or flash as my main light outdoors, I need to consider at what speed my flash can sync and how I want the background show up in comparison to my main subject with the slower shutter speed allowing the background to be brighter in comparison to the flash lit subject. F/stop will control the flash lighting and shutter speed will control the background illumination.

    Indoors with studio lights, as long as my shutter speed is within the sync limitations of my studio strobes, it doesn't matter what the shutter speed is. With my old White Lightning units and my Canon DSLR cameras; I usually shoot at 1/60 second. There is no worry about camera shake or subject movement because of the short duration of the flash. The only variable that I work with is f/stop, Of course you can consider ISO and the placement and power of the lights as a variable also but, that is not within the scope of this posting.

    Indoors with available light and flash (as either main light or fill) I need to consider sync speed as well as how I want the background to appear. The slower shutter speeds will allow the background to show up brighter and the f/stop will control how the flash lit subject is exposed.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 28th October 2011 at 09:28 PM.

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    Re: Does shutter speed matter in terms of portrait ?

    Hi Ameer,

    It's a bit like asking "what is the ideal speed for a car"; if it's in a race then the answer might be "as fast as possible" whereas if it's leading a funeral procession then clearly something much slower would be far more appropriate.

    As a rule, so long as it's fast enough to eliminate camera shake and subject motion, for the most part, it really doesn't matter. For portraiture, it's pretty much all about depth of field, and for that we're mostly concerned about aperture ... so the shutterspeed ends up being whatever it needs to be to balance the exposure. Mine typically vary from 1/60th to around 1/4000th when shooting outside.

  5. #5

    Re: Does shutter speed matter in terms of portrait ?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    With my old White Lightning units and my Canon DSLR cameras; I usually shoot at 1/60 second.
    That is the catch!
    First of all ,thanks Mr Richard for your extended elaborating reply. Second,I would like to know the reason behind using 1/60second,while some photographers use 1/125,1/250 or even 1/100.(studio head lights). That is really what arouse my inquiry.
    Thanks once more.
    Last edited by Ameer; 29th October 2011 at 07:00 AM.

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    Re: Does shutter speed matter in terms of portrait ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ameer View Post
    Second,I would like to know the reason behind using 1/60second
    It's the "mythical" shutter speed most chosen by camera manufacturers to minimise the chance of camera-shake entering the exposure with an average focal length lens.

    while some photographers use 1/125
    1/125th or 1/160th (if you're lucky) is generally the highest speed most studio heads will synchronise at.

    1/250

    This is generally X-Sync speed for many cameras (X-Sync speed is the fastest speed that both shutter curtains are fully open at once. Above this speed the 2 shutter curtains form a traveling "slit" and if the flash isn't put into high-speed-sync mode you'll start to see a black bar working it's way up from the bottom of the frame.


    or even 1/100.(studio head lights).
    Pretty much same reason as 1/125th for studio heads. Generally, we want as little ambient light in the shot as possible when shooting in the studio (keep in mind that we generally shoot with the room lights on) - so the faster the shutterspeed, the less ambient light we get, but 1/100th or 1/125th doesn't make a lot of difference.

    Outdoors with high-speed-sync capability, we shoot all the way up to 1/8000th (necessary when using fill flash with wide apertures).

    Hope this helps.

  7. #7

    Re: Does shutter speed matter in terms of portrait ?

    Hi Colin

    Yes, it is of great help to me . It cleared up my mind with your nice "matrix" elaboration which I like most.
    Thanks again for your help . I really appreciate that.

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