How to use a camera: exposure modes made simple

How to use a camera: exposure modes made simple

What is Shutter Priority mode?

In this section we venture beyond Program mode and your Aperture Priority setting to uncover the secrets behind using Shutter Priority mode

How to use a camera: pro secrets to using Shutter Priority mode

Shutter Priority mode is simply the opposite of Aperture Priority mode, so instead of choosing the aperture you have control over the shutter speed.

This mode is most useful when you are shooting moving subjects, especially when you don’t have time to set the aperture manually – when shooting sports, wildlife or action, for example.

To freeze fast-moving subjects like birds in flight or motor racing you’ll need a fast shutter speed of 1/1000 sec or faster.

Remember that you may need to increase the ISO to allow you to use these fast shutter speeds, especially in low light.

You can also combine a slower shutter speed with a panning technique – where you follow the movement with your camera to blur the background while keeping the main subject sharp.

Try using a shutter speed of around 1/125 sec when panning with fast-moving subjects like motorbikes or cars, while you can try a slower speed such as 1/30 sec for slower moving subjects.

You can use Shutter Priority for long shutter speed effects such as blurring moving water, people or traffic.

You’ll need a shutter speed of 1/4 sec, or slower to blur many of these subjects, so you’ll have to mount the camera on a tripod, and ideally use a remote shutter release to ensure the static areas are pin sharp.


Common mistakes at every shutter speed (and the best settings to use)
Best shutter speeds for every situation
Understanding shutter speed as a creative tool


How to use Shutter Priority mode

How to use Shutter Priority mode: step 1

1 Fast shutter speeds
Check there isn’t a low exposure warning – either a flashing aperture number or ‘Lo’ displayed on the screen. If there is one, increase the ISO or use a slower shutter speed.


How to use Shutter Priority mode: step 2

2 Using slow shutter speeds
Check for a high exposure warning. If so, set a lower ISO if one is available or use a faster shutter speed, otherwise use a Neutral Density or polarising filter.

Pros and Cons of Shutter Priority mode

What’s it good for?

Shooting sports and action where you need control over the shutter speed

What’s it bad for?

Most landscape photography
  • Any subject where you need precise control over the depth of field


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