What is Shutter Priority Mode?

What is shutter priority modeWhat is Shutter Priority Mode?

& when should I use it?

In the second part of this series I would like to explain what is Shutter Priority Mode and suggest some appropriate uses for this mode.

To examine what is shutter priority mode, set the dial to S on the camera.

What Is Shutter Priority mode

As explained here, I would like to help to encourage you to move out of Auto mode on your D-SLR and become a more accomplished photographer, crafting your own images through the settings within the camera.

Shutter Priority (S)

This mode does exactly what it says – it prioritises the shutter speed over the other settings in the camera, compensating by adjusting the aperture and ISO values.

The ‘shutter’ on a D-SLR is the mirror, which lifts up to allow the light through the lens onto the sensor, creating the photograph.  They tend to make a definite ‘clunk’ when in operation.

You can set the speed of the shutter on the dial.  This is based on the time that the shutter is open allowing light onto the sensor.  The measurement of this is a fraction of a second, for example, 1/125.  The shutter is open for 125th of a second, or 0.008 seconds – that’s pretty fast!

The range of shutter speeds depends on your camera, ranging from 60 seconds to 1/8,000 of a second!  The mind boggles at 0.000125 seconds!  Micro time!

Bear in mind the average blink of an eye is the equivalent of 1/3 of a second to help give you some perspective on shutter speeds!

Ok, I now know what is Shutter Priority Mode but when should I use it?

Have you ever admired photos of waterfalls, where the water is milky white?  That’s due to the image being taken using a very slow shutter speed, which then gives motion blur.

what is shutter priority mode waterfall
Slow shutter speed = motion blur

Or conversely, do you follow a fast paced sport, such as motor racing?  Using a fast shutter speed allows the photographer to capture the high speed movement of the car keeping it in perfect focus.

You may want to capture the movement of the water using a faster shutter speed, reflecting the more natural state of the waterfall.  It’s your choice.

The advantage of shutter priority mode is that you do not have to worry about setting the aperture or ISO – the camera makes the necessary adjustments to ensure that the image has the correct exposure, leaving you to concentrate on your subject.

what is shutter priority mode fast shutter
Fast shutter speed = a moment frozen in time

In Auto mode, either of the subjects above would be very difficult to capture effectively, a lot of cameras have ‘scene’ modes which will be based on Shutter or Aperture Priority – Sports for example has a fast shutter speed setting for fast paced photos.

But where is the fun in that?  Why not craft your own images, adding your own stamp of creativity!

It sounds daunting and difficult, but it is all too easy to remain within your comfort zone.  By pushing your boundaries, you will begin to then discover your own potential as a photographer, taking ownership of the images that you create.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and that you take the time to have a browse around the other pages in this website.

Please feel free to add any comments or links below to your own photos taken in shutter priority mode.

Happy clicking!



2 thoughts on “What is Shutter Priority Mode?

  1. Oh my gosh! I’m learning so much from you. I use the auto mode because I always think that my camera knows best (like it has a mind of it’s own or something). I’m going to have to try the S mode and play around with it. Nowadays there is no real reason why not to, since you can just delete and work on it some more!
    Great info!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for reading my article, as you say there is no real reason why not to turn the dial from Auto to S or A and experiment, get to know your camera a little better.

      I am so pleased to hear that I have inspired you to try this, I look forward to hearing about your progress with this.

      Happy clicking!

      Kaz 🙂

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