Photography cheat sheet: What is shutter speed?

(Image credit: Future)

Shutter speed is one of the three fundamental pillars of the exposure triangle, (the other two being Aperture and ISO). Shutter speed means exactly what you think it would – the speed that the shutter on your camera is open for.

Even if you're only a beginner in photography, you'll likely know that a fast shutter speed means a shorter exposure (and less light hitting the sensor) while a longer exposure means that the shutter is open for more time, which allows more light to hit the sensor. By changing your shutter speed, you can adapt your exposure for the light levels in your environment, but you can also make creative choices. 

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar,, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.