How to Change Shutter Speed on iPhone

How to Change Shutter Speed on iPhone

Cheetah Running in The Grassland
The shutter speed creates a dramatic effect on an image by freezing the motion.

With over 36.4 million units sold within the first quarter of this year, Apple’s iPhone is undeniably one of the best cellular devices available in the market today. And, the iPhone won’t be that in-demand without any reason. In fact, the iPhone has silently become a status symbol in society. But, what is really with the iPhone that everybody is drooling over it?

For starters, the iPhone’s features alone which include its unparalleled architecture, eye-catching hardware, and prodigious software are already eye candy. To be more particular, its unprecedented camera feature is something to die for. Yes, a lot of people are into iPhones because of its superb camera features. And, speaking of which, one of the most prominent and most important camera features is the shutter speed. 

This article contains a step by step guide on how you will change the shutter speed of your iPhone’s camera. It also contains other relevant information that will help you have a better understanding of the camera of your iPhone. 

What is the Shutter Speed?

Motion Speed Light in London City
The shutter speed is the length of time the shutter is open when taking an image.

Shutter speed refers to the length of time the camera shutter stays open in order for the light to enter the camera sensors. Basically, the shutter speed is all about the amount of time your camera uses to take photos. The shutter speed affects the overall outcome of the image that you will shoot. 

Shutter speed, alongside ISO and aperture, is considered as one of the most important photography settings. The shutter has two primary roles. First, it is responsible for changing the brightness of the photos you shoot and second, it creates a dramatic effect on an image by either blurring the motion or freezing the action. 

The shutter speed will not exist in the absence of a camera shutter. A camera shutter refers to the curtain-like feature which is located in front of the sensor of your camera’s sensor. The camera shutter will remain closed not unless the camera fires. This means that once you use your camera, the shutter will open and your camera sensor is fully exposed to the light which passes through your lens. 

Once the sensor has completely collected light, the shutter will then close immediately to prevent the sensor from getting too much light or to stop overexposing the sensor. The button on your camera’s screen which you click in order to take an image is called a shutter or shutter button. It is called that way since it triggers the shutter to open and close.

Typically, the Shutter Speed is measured in fractions of a second, that is if they are below a second. For example,  ¼ means that the shutter speed is a quarter of a second. On the other hand, 1/250 means that the shutter speed is four milliseconds or one-two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second.

To explain further what shutter speed is, let us break it down into smaller pieces. Here are some of the most important things that you should know about shutter speed:

  • Shutter speed is measured in seconds.

More often than not, the shutter speed is measured in seconds or in fractions of seconds. The shutter speed is faster when the denominator is bigger. For example, 1/1000 is way faster than 1/30. 

  • The 1/60th of a second is the most used shutter speed. 

More often than not, the 1/60th of a second or faster shutter speed is used because if you use a shutter speed that is lower than that, then you will find it very hard to capture a shake-free photo. Most of your photos will appear blurry or distorted due to how long your camera takes to capture an image. 

  • Use a tripod for slower shutter speed. 

A shutter speed that is slower than 1/60 of a second will require you to use a tripod or any other stabilizing device. If you do not have a tripod, then your next option is to download a third-party app that supports image stabilization. A tripod is very important when it comes to slow shutter speed in or to avoid motion blur or blurry images. 

  • Pre-installed shutter speeds on your iPhone will usually double with each setting.

In most cases, the shutter speed options that are readily available on your iPhone will double with each setting thus, you are given the following shutter speed options: 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, ⅛ and so much more. This happens in order to help you remember that the amount of light that is allowed is also doubled in the aperture settings. This results in an increase in the shutter speed by one stop and a decrease in the aperture by one stop as well. These stops should result in similar exposure levels.

  • Some cameras offer very slow shutter speeds.

There are cameras that do not measure the shutter speed in a fraction of a second. Instead, these cameras measure the shutter speed by seconds (e.g. 1 second, 10 seconds, 30 seconds). Such shutter speeds are very ideal in scenes with very low light wherein you are aiming for special effects or when there are a lot of movements in the scene. There are also cameras that allow you to shoot in ‘B’ or Bulb Mode. The Bulb Mode allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you want by holding it down. 

  • Always think of any moving object in the scene when choosing what shutter speed to use. 

When it comes to the shutter speed that you will use, always consider the scene where you are shooting. Are there moving objects? How do you want to capture these moving objects? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you figure out the best shutter speed for such a situation. In case that there are movements in your scene, you are left with two choices – to freeze the movement or just let it appear as it is. If you freeze the object, then it will look still and if you let the object appear as it is, then it will come up or appear with a sense of movement. 

  • Freeze movements in an image. 

In case you want to freeze a movement in an image (e.g. a surfer and a bird on the beach) then, you will need a faster shutter speed but if you want to blur the movement, then you will need a slower shutter speed. The actual speeds that you will choose should differ based on how fast your subject is and on how blurry you want it to be. 

How to change the Shutter Speed of Your iPhone

Photography cheat sheet, camera's manual in icons, Shutter Speed. Vector illustration.
Changing the shutter speed of your iPhone directly is not allowed, thus you have to use third-party apps to do so.

Your iPhone’s built-in Camera app does not come with a shutter speed option. This means that you have to use third-party apps in order to adjust your shutter speed. There are a lot of apps that you can download in order to control the shutter speed of your iPhone’s camera. 

One of the most excellent apps which you can use to adjust the shutter speed of your iPhone is the Camera+2. You can download it from the App Store for around $2.99. The apps offer a good choice of shutter speed options ranging from very fast to very slow. It even comes with a Slow Shutter shooting mode which allows you to capture long exposure photos. 

To change the shutter speed on the iPhone using Camera+ 2… 

  1. Open the Camera+ 2 app.
  2. Click on the (+) icon which is located next to the shutter button. This will open the shooting options. 
  3. Choose the Normal shooting mode. 
  4. Close the shooting options by clicking on the X button next to the shutter button. 
  5. A Shutter Speed/ISO icon should appear above the shutter button wherein two values are displayed. The first one is shutter speed and the other one is the ISO. 
  6. In case that the shutter speed and ISO values do not appear, click on the Menu icon which appears as three lines located at the bottom right corner of your screen. 
  7. Choose Advanced Controls and then turn on the Always Show option. 
  8. Exit on the menu by tapping on the Camera icon located at the bottom part of your screen. 
  9. To change the shutter speed, click on the Shutter Speed/ ISO button which is located at the top of the shutter button. 
  10. Once tapped, the Shutter Speed slider will then appear. Adjust your shutter speed by sliding the slider to the left or to the right. Sliding to the left will increase your shutter speed while decreasing to the right will increase your shutter speed. 

Note:

When shooting in Normal Mode, the slowest shutter speed is around 1/4s (a quarter of a second).

Shutter Speed and Exposure

Silhouette flock of birds flying over the valley on sunbeam twilight sky at sunset. Birds flying. The freedom of birds,freedom concept.
The shutter speed of the camera affects the exposure of the image.

The exposure of a photo is greatly affected by the shutter speed. The exposure of a camera refers to the brightness of the image that you take. If you choose to use long shutter speed, then your photo will appear quite bright since your camera sensor has gathered a lot of light. On the other hand, using a quick shutter speed will turn your photos darker due to the small amount of light that has entered your camera’s sensor. 

However, the shutter speed is not the only thing that has an effect on how bright your image is. Your iPhone’s aperture and ISO alongside how bright your environment is also affecting the brightness of the photos you take. This gives you the flexibility to decide on your shutter speed but you have to be very careful in choosing your other settings. 

Your shutter speed can be a very big help to capture images with just the right brightness. Faster shutter speed is needed when shooting on a sunny day to avoid overexposing your photos. On the other hand, when you are shooting in dark areas, you might need to use long shutter speed so that your photo will not come out too dark. 

A lot of people adjust the shutter speed of the camera in order to ensure that their photos have the right brightness. 

Fast, Slow and Long Shutter Speeds

Fast Shutter Speed

water drop with summer background
A fast shutter speed freezes motion.

Fast shutter speed refers to anything faster than 1/500th of a second. So, this could be around 1/1000, 1/2000 and 1/4000. It all depends on the iPhone model you are using. 

Fast shutter speed is used to freeze motion. To be more specific, and especially fast shutter speed has the capacity to eliminate motion even from fast-moving objects. For example, photographing birds in flight, or cars driving past, your shutter speed could be 1/1000th second or faster. Using fast shutter speed to capture water droplets will make the water droplet look like it is suspended in the air.

You can use fast shutter speed in sports photography to capture the motion of the players. You can also use it when capturing animals who are moving way too fast for a normal camera shutter to capture. 

Slow Shutter Speed

Niagara falls between United States of America and Canada.
The slow shutter speed is ideal for landscape photography.

Slow shutter speed is ideally used to capture images of objects in dark places or at night. It is very important that you use a tripod when using slow shutter speed. Slow shutter speed is usually used by landscape photographers since it allows them to create a sense of motion in moving bodies of water while keeping the rest of the image completely sharp. 

Long Shutter Speed

The car runs high on the road
The long shutter speed is used to capture moving objects.

When it comes to long shutter speed, the shutter speed is typically above 1 second. This means that a tripod is necessary in order to keep your camera steady and to ensure that your images will come out sharp. 

Your iPhone’s camera sensors are exposed for a longer period of time when you use the long shutter speed. This also causes motion blur. If you use long shutter speed to capture moving objects, then your photo will come out blurred with respect to the direction of motion. 

This makes long shutter speed ideal for advertisements wherein a sense of speed and motion is needed in order to effectively communicate to the viewers what the ad is all about in the first place. 

Tips to Pick the Perfect Shutter Speed

Dog Catching a Ball
Choosing the right shutter speed is necessary to get the right lighting of an image.

As a photographer and an iPhone user, it is very important that you know what shutter speed is. Besides, it is one of the most important things that you should learn in the first place. So, how will you pick the best shutter speed for your iPhone images? Take a look at the following to learn how. 

1. Understand the relationship between shutter speed and exposure

In its most obvious sense, what your shutter speed does is to make your photos appear dark or bright. Your shutter speed has something to do with your exposure. How? Well, your shutter speed affects the amount of light that you capture. 

To make things clearer, the long shutter speed will make your image brighter while a short shutter speed will make your image darker. This means that the brightness of the photos you take greatly depends on the amount of time your camera sensors are exposed. 

2. Do not forget what shutter speed is

Why is shutter speed called shutter speed in the first place? 

Basically, shutter speed is a shutter curtain located in front of your camera sensor in order to block the way where light enters. So, when you fire away from your camera, your shutter will open in order for the light to pass through and reach your camera sensor. 

The amount of time to which the light hits your camera sensor is the shutter speed. So, technically, shutter speed is the length of time your camera sensor is exposed to light. 

3. Don’t Rule Out Any Exposure Times

Shutter speed comes in different ranges and there is a reason behind it –  some scenes are brighter while other scenes are darker. 

If you are shooting at night or somewhere dim, which means that you do not have enough light source, using the long shutter speed is needed in order to make your photos bright enough. If you are taking photos under the bright scorching sun, a shutter speed faster shutter speed that is around 1/500 second or 1/1000 second to avoid overexposing your photos. 

4. Use Motion Blur Wisely

Imagine that your shutter speed is set to 1/2500 second which means that your shutter will open and close so fast, faster than a blink of an eye. What will happen then if your subject is a fast-moving body? 

Well, your subject will appear completely frozen in the image. This is because the sensor of your camera is not exposed long enough for it to notice the motion. Thus, no matter how fast your subject is, it will still appear frozen. This is the reason why wildlife and sports photographers use fast shutter speeds. 

The thing is, regardless of how long you can keep your body or hand stable, it is very hard or even impossible to capture a sharp image with long exposure by just holding the camera with your hand. Thus, the use of a tripod or other stabilizing device is necessary. 

A tripod does not give you the guarantee that you won’t experience any camera shake but at least, you are ensuring that you are doing your best not to add any additional blur in your photos. 

5. Be Creative

Sometimes, all it takes is creativity to see the beauty of everything. Like the motion blur. Just the thought of it might already make you cringe but in all honesty, it could serve as a great artistic tool for you. 

Anything that is moving goes well with a slow shutter speed which results in a gentle and blurred quality image. A motion blur is also a great way to pan with your subject to create streaks in your background. This implies that your subject is moving. 

Shutter Speed FAQ

Here are some of the frequently asked questions related to shutter speed:

What is the shutter speed?

Shutter speed is the length of time that the camera sensors are exposed to light while taking an image. 

What does slow shutter speed mean?

Slow shutter speed means that the shutter speed is set to 1 second or longer. It can refer to a fraction of a second like 1/2 or 1/4.

What does fast shutter speed mean?

Fast shutter speed means that your shutter speed is fast enough that it can freeze action. Typically, fast shutter speed is around 1/500 or higher. 

How do I find the shutter speed of my iPhone?

Typically, your shutter speed is located in your camera setting. But if you are using a third-party app like Camera +2 to change your shutter speed, you can find it right above your camera shutter. 

What is the slowest shutter speed?

The slowest possible shutter speed is 30 seconds which is possible if you do not use any remote shutter release. 

What is the fastest shutter speed?

The fastest possible shutter speed is 1/4000 of a second. But other cameras go as fast as 1/8000 of a second. Basically, it all depends on what type of camera you are using. 

How is shutter speed written?

There are two ways on how shutter speed is written – seconds (1s) or a fraction of a second (1/250).

What is the best shutter speed?

The best shutter speed depends on what your goal is. There is no such thing as the best shutter speed that could be used in all situations. 

Conclusion

The shutter speed is a big chunk to swallow. You can’t master everything about it all at once. Besides, you have to learn it along with ISO and aperture which entails a lot of technical things. You might take a lot of time before you can familiarize yourself with it but, remember, it’s not the time that you spend that speaks volumes, it’s on the quality of the images that you shoot. 

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