How slow can you go?

How slow  a shutter speed can you hand hold?

The answer to that question depends on a number of factors – the purpose of the picture, equipment used, focal length of the lens, IS / VR.

Hopefully by know everybody is aware of the 1/the focal length of the lens criteria for hand-held shutter speeds for lens without Image stabilisation / Vibration Reduction. Eg the slowest hand-held shutter speed for a 200mm lens would be a 1/200 of a second. With a IS / VR lens that claims a 3 stop advantage then in theory that shutter speed may be reduced to 1/25th of a second. (Each stop halves the shutter speed – 1, 1/100 2, 1/50 3, 1/25).

This is all rather theoretical as there a number of things that affect individuals such age and the amount of alcohol drunk to be able to hold the camera and lens steady. As we get older the ability to handhold at slow shutter speeds becomes less. So its worth experimenting to find out how slow you can go with all your lenses

This shot was taken with a 20mm f2.8 (non IS) lens with a predetermined 1/20th of a second exposure using shutter speed priority. This exposure was enough to elongate the face and it remain recognisable. A longer speed would have ment that face was unrecognisable and the strength of the shot would have diluted.

For most of my thirty year photographic life I have been using Aperture priority, but this was an occassion when shutter priority was the best choice. I know all of you out there in the blogosphere think that P stands for Professional mode and it’s the best mode to use. All P (the Program mode) is doing is giving you an exposure that is handhold-able for the focal length of the lens, moderate depth of field, with a reasonably low ISO – hence a bucket full of compromises. Does your camera know the shot you want to take?

(c) Andy Beel FRPS

3 responses to How slow can you go?

  1. MDW says:

    This is something that bugs me about cameras without view finders. With a view finder you can steady the camera against your face and set your elbows against your chest for support. I find it very annoying to have to hold a camera at arm’s length away from my body to line things up using the video screen on the back. It’s unstable and makes one look like a dork to boot. No wonder they needed to invent image stablization.


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