What Is Shutter Priority in Photography?

New-age digital cameras have revolutionized photography with the huge collection of features they offer. They support a wide range of functions and settings allowing photographers to produce high-quality photographs with ease.

From fully automatic mode to total freedom of control, these functions can also be combined to suit specific requirements. One of those functions is the shutter priority mode. This mode allows you to control the shutter speed manually while automatically managing other settings to represent movement in photographs. It helps in adding different effects to pictures to create powerful as well as artistic images. Here’s how.

Features of Shutter Priority Mode

person taking selfie using Nikon DSLR camera

Shutter Speed 

Indicated as “TV” or “S” on your camera’s dial, the shutter priority mode focuses on movement. Depending on how you want a movement to appear in your photos, you may choose a fast or slow shutter speed. Fast shutter speed will freeze your moving subject while blurring the background. On the other hand, slow shutter speed will blur moving subjects instead, to portray actual movement. Setting the shutter speed slower than the subject will make moving objects look blurry.

One thing to keep in mind is that the slower the shutter speed the more liable your camera is to shake. A shaky camera can result in blurry images. To counteract that it is advisable to mount your camera on a tripod when using slow shutter speed.


This mode is ideal for taking photos in well-lit environments such as sporting events. Here, you only have to concentrate on controlling the shutter speed without having to bother about ISO and exposure. This helps saving time allowing you to easily make other adjustments to your camera settings if required.

flat lay photography of black Sony DSLR camera on black surface

If you are using a telephoto lens without a tripod, a quicker shutter speed will also counteract camera shake. This is particularly suitable for shooting outdoors with changing natural light. When shooting in less than ideal lighting conditions, you can increase the ISO to avoid underexposed images. Increasing the ISO increases the sensor’s sensitivity to light, allowing enough light into your camera for a good exposure.


The shutter priority mode helps you maintain the correct level of exposure by selecting the aperture while you choose the shutter speed. A larger aperture lets more light into the sensor to get the right exposure. Increasing the shutter speed in shutter priority mode will lead to the camera choosing a larger aperture.

If you continue increasing the shutter speed, the camera will no longer be able to achieve the correct exposure. This is because lenses have fixed apertures. Once the largest aperture is reached, the lens is incapable of letting any more amount of light in. To compensate, you can increase your ISO or opt for a faster lens.


This mode allows you to determine the shutter speed while the camera adjusts the aperture to ensure good exposure. Thus, this semi-automatic mode can be used in a variety of scenarios from sports, performance events, to nature and wildlife. Basically, for any event where there is a movement that you need to capture in your images.

Final Words

The shutter priority mode allows you time to familiarize yourself with your equipment without compromising on picture quality. It also saves time in situations where you need to change additional settings while ensuring you get a good exposure.

The inconvertible fact derived from this is that the shutter priority mode is an extremely useful tool. Besides being user friendly and easy to use, it is ideal for different kinds of photography with different requirements. Anyone from professionals to amateurs with a basic understanding of photography can utilize it to achieve stunning results.

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