The Importance of Shutter Speed in Cinematography

As a keen photographer I know all about the shutter speed and it’s importance when taking a still picture. If you want to have a sharp picture make sure it’s high enough on the contrary if you want to convey the movement in a photo you should slower the shutter speed to anything below 1/30 depending on what you are shooting.

In cinematography it plays an important role as well. Naturally we want crispy looking videos, so the logic would dictate that the greater the shutter speed the better.

The critical difference between the two disciplines is that you’re limited to a single shutter speed while recording video, and that shutter speed depends on the frame rate that you’re shooting at. Most of the time that will be either 24 or 25 frames-per-second (fps) and because of 180-degree shutter angle rule, which means that your shutter speed should be double your frame rate.

For example, when shooting at 25fps, your shutter speed should be 1/50 of a second. If your camera can shoot at 50 or 60 fps, your shutter speed should be 1/100 or 1/125 of a second. The reason for this 180-degree rule is because it helps us to record video that contains natural movement. If the shutter speed is too slow, you’ll get blurred movement, if you shoot at a shutter speed that’s too high, everyone in your scene will look like robots or as if they were recorded in stop motion. Sticking to the 180-rule will give you the most natural movement.

Having to stick with a fixed shutter speed can feel particularly limiting for those of us who are experienced in stills photography. If you’re outdoors and shooting at 1/50 of a second and at your lowest ISO and you want to use a wide aperture, you’ll often find that you’re scene is overexposed. The natural tendency for a photographer would be to increase the shutter speed, but because we can’t do that, we have to use ND filters to reduce the amount of light entering through the lens.

The cheapest and the most convenient option is to use a variable ND filter. Alternatively you need to purchase a bunch of filters for each “stop”, accomodating various lighting conditions.


How shutter speed works when shooting video

The tutorial on how to use ND filters to fine tune shutter speed using DJI GO app

Demonstration of using different shutter speeds on a drone

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