Speed the Shutter

This is the final article in our series covering the essential controls on your friendly digital camcorder. It’s time to talk about the shutter speed settings.

First, a little bit of background. Shutter speed is shown on your screen like this: 1/250 or 1/100. What do these numbers mean? The smaller the fraction (1/250 is smaller than 1/100), the faster your shutter opens and closes. Huh? Let me explain. . .

When you are shooting very quick motion at low shutter speeds (1/100 is a lower shutter speed than 1/250), your camera will miss a lot of the action. By setting the shutter speed higher, you will catch more frames of the action.

So how do you set the shutter speed? As with the other controls, you’ll need to read your camera’s manual to find out where the settings are located (no hurry, I’ll wait). Here’s how setting your shutter speed works. Light your scene. Now go to your shutter speed menu. Set the speed as high as you can. You’ll notice that the scene gets darker as the shutter speed gets higher. Why is this?

In order to capture all of those frames at high shutter speeds, your camera needs lots of light. Therefore, the scene appears darker as the camera uses more light.

Okay, we left you with your shutter speed up as high as it would go. Your scene is probably very dark. Turn your shutter speed down until the scene looks properly lit. That is, when you look at the viewfinder or LCD screen of your camera, the scene looks normal to you. Congratulations! You have set your shutter speed!

When you shoot outdoor scenes, you will notice that you will be able to set the shutter speed higher than when you shoot indoors. This is because of the afore mentioned lighting issues. Eventually, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where you can set your shutter speed for a given scene, so you will be able to eliminate some of the trial and error.

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