Tog-Talk with Kevin Ahronson
March 24, 2022
Photography Basics Pt.3 Understanding shutter speed

Last episode we looked at the aperture, now it's the turn of the shutter. From our perspective today, we're going to look at two different types of shutter.  One is mechanical and the other is electronic.

This is part three of a 10-part mini-series looking at Photography Basics

The Shutter

Last episode we looked at the aperture, now it's the turn of the shutter.

From our perspective today, we're going to look at two different types of shutter.  One is mechanical and the other is electronic.   

Older DSLR cameras will be mechanical, but the newer, mirrorless cameras (which have effectively taken over from DSLRs) tend to offer both mechanical and electronic options.

Understanding the pros and cons of both systems will help you make the right choice for the shot you're taking.  Certainly, electronic shutters have a lot to offer, but there are some drawbacks, some disadvantages.  However, as technology improves, so we can expect those disadvantages to eventually disappear.

Camera Shake

Controlling your shutter speed will help you avoid  'camera shake'. 

Many times over the years, students have complained to me that their photos are out of focus.  In reality, the focus is fine, but the images look blurred or soft because the shutter speed has been too slow.  There is a limit to how steady we can hold the cameras in our hands.  Once you go below a certain threshold, blurring will occur and that threshold varies from lens to lens, or rather, from focal length to focal length.

In simple terms, the longer your focal length, the faster your shutter needs to be  to avoid camera shake.  I refer to this speed as the MHHSS (minimum hand-held shutter speed).

Working out the MHHSS was very easy back in the days when we were all shooting with 35mm film cameras.  I was taught it by my school photography club at the tender age of 14, and the principle still holds today, over 50 years later. 

These days however, many of us shoot with cropped sensor cameras, which have a magnification effect on every lens we use, and so we have to take that into consideration.

Getting a Bit Technical

This episode of Tog-Talk does get a bit technical, and some listeners may have to take notes to help them get their heads around it.   

Some photography subjects were always going to be tougher to explain without visuals and if by the end of this podcast, you are still struggling a bit, you may want to consider signing up for one of our workshops (providing you live near our training centre in Hampshire in the UK).  I have provided a link to our Introduction to photography one-day workshop below.

Some links from the discussion:

This ancient video I made back in 2016 should help explain what a cropped frame (or cropped sensor) camera is.  


Run four times a year, this one-day photography workshop will equip you with the knowledge you need to move from simply being a camera-owner… to becoming a real photographer !

Whether you're photographing your kids, snapping your holidays or you're hoping to progress your photography to a more creative level, you'll still need a solid grasp of the basics.

PLEASE NOTE: All course fees will be going up on 1st April (2022).  And no, this is not an April fool !  If you register for any course before that date, you will get it at current prices. 

Use this online tool to assess your photography knowledge and get a snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses.

Hampshire School of Photography is based in Fleet, Hampshire, on the border with Berkshire and Surrey.

Its wide ranging curriculum teaches photography to enthusiasts at all levels - from complete beginners and advanced amateurs, through to those who want to go professional.

It does this through workshops and year-long courses that provide solid foundations in (amongst other things): photography theory, composition, portrait & landscape photography, working with flash, macro photography and editing in Lightroom and Photoshop.  Some of our courses go even deeper… to stretch students with challenging assignments, forcing them out of their comfort zones.

Founder of HSP, Kevin Ahronson, also offers private mentoring to a small number of people each year, as his busy schedule allows.