Time to Break the Rules With Shutter Speeds

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 Break the rules to get the shot.
Give yourself permission to stretch your boundaries and find your own style.

Suzette Says

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Intro by Skip Cohen 

Thanks to technology more of you are shooting video than ever before. And, the applications for video whether full-length features or just short clips are pulling together an incredible resource of creative ideas.

Photodex and SCU want to help you expand your skill set, and we’re getting lots of help from Suzette Allen. In this week’s Suzette Says, she’s sharing a series of outstanding examples of shooting video at various shutter speeds. She’s also giving you some solid examples of how 4K can play a role in capturing some excellent images.

Now, take Suzette’s tips, practice a little on your own so you can get comfortable with the results and then put the video clips and still images together in your slide shows.

​ProShow8 is loaded with features to make your presentations look more professional than ever. Just click on the thumbnail to check it out and take it for your own FREE test drive!



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Does a video look bad if it is shot at too high a shutter speed?

First of all, I think it is important that we identify what is “too high” or “too fast” of a shutter!

Well, there IS a rule, that says a video should be shot with a shutter speed of double the frame rate. That’s also referred to as the Shutter Angle. So, when shooting at 24 fps-that’s frames per second, one should use a 1/50th of a second shutter. At 30 fps, use 1/60th of a sec shutter, and 60fps, you would use 1/125th of a sec shutter. It’s a good guide with a good look. BUT, what happens when you don’t follow the rules? What will it cost you? Will it be unusable? Or have a bad look or a rookie style?

Well, it may not really be “bad” but it does typically have a different feel and sometimes look, depending on the subject. I have a great demo clip of a water fountain that was shot at 30 frames per second that shows what it looks like at 1/30th of a second up to 1/1000th of a sec. Theres a huge difference in how the water looks. And you could probably say it is “bad”- or at least totally fake looking! Water is definitely one you don’t want to fudge on.


​Although, here is a sweet little stream that I shot too fast accidentally and then reshot with a correct speed. But I couldn’t tell the difference. This one was shot way too fast (over 1/1000th of a second) But it looks good.

BUT in the case of action sports or moving people, I shoot at “too fast” of a shutter speed all the time for the purpose of pulling out still frames out of the 4K video (to make big prints!)! In that case I definitely want to break the shutter speed rule so that each frame is actually a sharp image!

But here is what happens…. I get my frame and then I fall in love with the video too…. And I want to use BOTH! But I shot it with the wrong shutter speed! I know the cinema photographers reading this are probably cringing at this…. so wrong….but my goal is a PRINT and my secondary goal is a HYBRID Moving Portrait. So I get my printable image and then I feel like the shutter issue with portraits it is not really a big deal. If it captured the emotion, it is golden. With action, it DOES have a slight “crispier” feel. But that can be a style too. Like the movie “300”—it was purposely shot at a fast shutter speed to give it that gritty feeling. It’s not bad or wrong, it is just a look.

So here are a few examples of some videos I shot for the purpose of sharp frames and I think the videos are acceptable. What do you think?

Quad Jump, This was taken before the cameras had the ability to record the shutter speed in the metadata in 4K video. Im pretty sure we were at 1/640th or 1/1000th of a second on these. The image is fairly sharp. The video is short… but do you think it looks “OK”? [ I just want to see it in slow motion! ]

Football Kick, this was shot at 1/1000th of a second and only about 3 frames have the football in it!

Pink Silk Soar, shot at about 1/400 to 1/640th of a sec to freeze action. Got the killer shots!

This RidgeRider video “feels” a bit too crispy and gritty, but it works for the content and subject I think.

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