Capturing Motion Using Shutter Speed and Sport Scene Mode

Knoji reviews products and up-and-coming brands we think you'll love. In certain cases, we may receive a commission from brands mentioned in our guides. Learn more.
Changing the shutter speed on a digital camera, whether it is a compact point-and-shoot or a dslr, it will make a big difference to subjects that are in motion. If you want to capture the kids playing on a waterslide or a slow waterfall the shutter speed

A photograph is great as a reminder of something special that you have done but what if you are doing something while in motion and not just posing for a snapshot? To show motion and activity in images is not that difficult even if you have a compact point-and-shoot camera. A simple change of your functions and you are on the way to taking great images of a moving subject.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed will make a huge difference to how your pictures turn out. For example the first picture here has been taken at a very slow shutter speed, 1/50 (the first image here was taken at one fiftieth of a second) this will blur a moving subject, giving the impression of movement.  As you can see in this picture it makes the subject seem ghostly, the hands blurred, disappearing into the background, the hair almost looks as if it’s underwater.

If you have a very fast shutter speed as in the second picture here, 1/1000 (this is one thousandth of a second) a moving image will look like it has been stopped in motion and will be very clear and crisp.  The difference in outcome can clearly be seen when comparing these two images.

To change your shutter speed turn your dial on your dslr to "S" and you should be able to adjust the speed of the shutter either by using the dial on the camera or using your up and down arrows. If you have a compact camera make sure you are in either "program" or "manual" mode, then place you camera into "Shutter Priority" if you have that function available.

In essence the idea is that the lower the number that you choose to employ the slower the shutter opens and closes, giving a more blurred (in motion) picture, the faster the shutter speed enables you to stop time.

What if I do not have shutter speed settings on my camera?

If you do not have shutter speed settings or shutter priority you can employ one of your scene modes that give a high shutter speed such as “sport” or “kids” both of these are set to capture fast moving subjects.

Sports Scene Mode

By setting your camera to this mode you will be able to capture things in stopped motion and this could include, people, animals, birds and moving vehicles. This mode will work exactly the same as a fast shutter speed on a dslr camera but you just will not have the option of adjusting how fast the shutter will work.

Unfortunately there is not usually a scene mode for a slower shutter speed so things like waterfalls or any slowing down of motion is not usually possible. 

Practise Exercise

Use your shutter speed setting to take the same moving image three times on slow, medium and fast shutter speeds.


Use your “sport” or “kids” mode to take three different moving images that could exemplify the faster shutter speed. Or take the same image on “auto” and then using the “sport” mode to see the difference. 

Image Credits

Shutter Speed Image One Slow Self-Portrait by Zoe Van-de-Velde

Shutter Speed Image Two Fast Self Portrait by Zoe Van-de-Velde

Sport Scene Mode Image from Kathy Eyster's Blog, Essential Digital Camera Tips for Beginners

1 comment

tamrh alan
Posted on May 6, 2012