Shutter Speed for DSLR Video

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In terms of photography, shutter speed refers to the length of time that the  camera shutter is open. Shutters speed is also known as exposure time because it  refers to the amount of time the light is exposed to the film or the sensor.

With video, the shutter speed is the length of time that each individual frame is exposed for. Usually the shutter speed will be a fraction of a second. With Canon DSLRs the shutter speed will be listed in whole numbers, such as 60. The 60 actually means that each frame will be exposed for 1/60th of a second. With Magic Lantern installed on a Canon DSLR, the display will show the actual fraction (1/60).

The general rule of thumb for setting the shutter speed for video is to double your frame rate to get the denominator of the shutter speed. So if your frame rate was set for 24 frames per second,  you’d use the shutter speed that’s closest to 1/48. This is called the 180 degree shutter rule, and if you’d like to learn more about, Tyler Ginter has an excellent explanation of the topic. As always rules are meant to be broken. If you’re going for a certain aesthetic you can always play with the shutter speed. Additionally, if you’re filming lights and notice some flickering or if you’re filming a montior or television set and see scan lines, adjusting the shutter speed will get rid of the light flicker or monitor scan lines.

With a slower shutter speed or when the denominator is smaller, you’ll get more blurring and the video will appear smoother. With a faster shutter speed (bigger denominator number) you’ll have more crisp images and objects in motion will appear more jittery.

Watch the video comparison below to see the different shutter speed effects in action.

 

How do you set the shutter speed on a Canon T3i or 5d Mark III?

There are multiple methods, but the easiest way to adjust the shutter speed is to use the scrolling wheel on the top of the camera. Make sure you are in a video mode that allows you to adjust the shutter speed (ie not in the green Scene Intelligent Auto (full auto) mode):

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Confused between shutter speed and frame rate? Check out this post.

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