If you haven’t already read my posts about aperture and ISO, head there first! After I set the aperture on my camera, then my ISO, the last thing I think about is my shutter speed.
The best analogy I’ve heard when it comes to shutter speed is a door. The size of the door is the aperture, so a tiny little door would be an aperture of f/8 and huge barn door would be an aperture of f/1.2. How FAST THAT DOOR SHUTS is the SHUTTER SPEED.
If your door opening is big (and you have an adequate amount of light) you’re going to want that door to shut very quickly. If your door opening is small, you want the door to shut a little slower.
The slower the shutter speed, the higher your chance of getting a soft image. So, I never go below 200 for shutter speed. If you are using a tripod, you have a little more wiggle room. But, ideally, I like to have a shutter speed that is around 500 or higher.
If you’re shooting a family at dusk and you need everyone in focus (maybe shooting at f/2.8 and 1600 ISO) it’s better to have a shutter speed of 200 than shooting at f/1.2 so that your shutter speed can be higher.
And if your brain understands math, think about shutter speed as a fraction. A shutter speed of 200 is 1/200th of a second. A shutter speed of 1600 is 1/1600th of a second. So, the high the number the faster the shutter speed and less light is coming in.
Here’s a few example photos and the camera settings I used:
1/600 shutter speed f/5.0 ISO 800 (shot with 50mm 1.2)
1/800 shutter speed f/3.5 ISO 250 (shot with 85mm 1.2)
1/1000 shutter speed f/4.0 ISO 800 (shot with 50mm 1.2)
1/1000 shutter speed f/3.5 ISO 640 (shot with 85mm 1.2)