What is shutter speed?
Shutter speed sounds like what it is, how fast the shutter opens and closes. It is measured in fractions of a second. The slower the shutter speed, the more light that will enter your lens, while a fast shutter will let in less light. I the example below you can see a perfect example at how shutter speed affects the light.
(*The most important thing to remember is there is no magic number, in every situation your shutter speed will vary depending on the outcome of what you want. Below is just an example of light, I can shoot outside on a sunny day and my shutter speed will be way faster than 1/250 and will not be dark. Your ISO, your Shutter Speed and aperture will work hand and hand together, we will get there eventually!)
Shutter speed not only affects light, it also affect the way you capture motion. Fast the shutter speed the more you freeze motion. Think about your blinking eye while watching a child running toward you. The faster you blink the less changes, the slower you close you eye the more motion you get in each frame.
How can I know what my shutter speed is on my camera?
On the back of your LCD screen it will look something like this.
If you set your camera’s dial to either S (Nikon) or Av (Canon) it gives you the ability to control your shutter speed while your camera picks the other settings. Except ISO you still determine the ISO settings on all creative modes. You can read about ISO HERE.
How slow is too slow?
This depends on what you are trying to do. But for sure if you are hand holding your camera never go below 1/60th of a second, you hands have natural shake to them. If you plan on having a slower shutter speed than that use a tripod, and at times even a timer, or remote so that your hand pushing the shutter doesn’t cause movement.
Personally I rarely like my shutter speed to be less than 1/125th or so. OR if I am shooting with my 70-200mm lens, its big, its heavy and my hands shake, so I don’t like my shutter speed to be under 1/400th. This means that if I need my shutter speed to be 1/400th, then I may have to raise my ISO higher to help bring in more light.
Here are some examples:
Slow Shutter Speed captures the flow of the water creating that soft look as well as the car lights, and writing those messages in sparklers. These would all be best with a tripod set on very low shutter speeds!
Fast shutter speeds capture and freeze the motion, so you can see each drop of water more clearly.