Shutter Speed And The Reciprocal Rule

Photography - 101 Sharp Images And Focusing Techniques
6 minutes
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Another reason why you might not be getting tax drop images is simply due to shutter speed. Now, of course, we already know that your shutter speed needs to be fast enough to freeze the subject that it is you're shooting. For example, if we are shooting a portrait, well, if the subject isn't moving, then we can get away with slow shutter speeds, one 15th of a second 100th of a second, those are gonna be totally fast enough, so long as we have steady hands. But if we're shooting faster moving objects, say a person running, if we want to freeze that action, we need to be around one to 50 or one 500 of a second, if we're shooting faster moving cars, again around one 500 or one 1,000th of a second and so forth. So that's pretty simple. But what about shake or movement that's caused by your hands?

Well, this is known as camera shake and camera shake, we can mitigate by making sure that we follow a simple rule of thumb, the rule that I'm talking about is the reciprocal rule. But the reciprocal rule is really I'm going to say more of a suggestion or a guideline because in some situations, it's not going to work and you need to use your common sense. But essentially what this rule states is that your shutter speed needs needs to be at least the inverse of your focal length. So, I know that sounds complicated but these are just words to make me sound smart. Okay? What it really means is that if you're shooting at say 50 millimeter lens, you're going to shoot at one over 50 for your shutter speed, at least that is your minimum.

If you're shooting on 100 millimeter lens, you're going to be shooting at least have a shutter speed of one over 100. This is the reciprocal rule because basically what's happening is that the longer the focal length of the lens, the more exaggerated any movement becomes. And I have a little example for y'all to help you understand this. I brought along with me two PVC pipes. Okay, this is a short PVC pipe, I'm going to say this PVC pipe represents a 24 millimeter lens. Let's just say for example, okay, now if I hold my 24 millimeter lens, let's see if I can hold it from this side the same way I would hold a camera or roughly the same way I hold the camera and hold it in a way that it'd be steady on the other side.

Pretty easy, not too bad. We're getting a little bit of a whimper if I regulate my breathing I think we can get that pretty steady, not too hard, right? The problem is if I grab this other PVC pipe, and this is roughly, I don't know, 910 feet long PVC pipe, the movement on the other side becomes very much exaggerated. So for example, I hold it the exact same way, look how much movement is being introduced in the other side of this long pipe. And this is the same thing that's going to happen with your lens. The longer the lens, the more exaggerated the movement becomes on the other side of that lens.

So for telephoto link lenses, say a 200 millimeter lens 300 millimeter lens, you need to be sticking with at least the inverse of whatever that lens is. So one over 201 over 300 for your shutter speed. Now of course, things like in camera stabilization or in lens stabilization do help out a lot and allow you to get lower if necessary. But really, when you're going with a telephoto link, you should keep the shutter speed relatively high. But here's the thing, the reciprocal rule kind of starts to fall apart when you get to wider angles. Why?

Because Well, if I'm on a 50 millimeter lens, I wouldn't necessarily always want to shoot at one over 50th of a second. Of course, I could if my subject was still, but more often than not, I have to consider my subject and my subject movement in my shutter speed. Same thing, if I go to a wide angle, say a 24 millimeter, a 17 millimeter, a 16 million even down to say, a 14 or a 10 millimeter lens, I'm not going to drop my shutter speed down to one 10th. Just because I know that the reciprocal rule tells me to. So that's what I mean where you need to use this rule as more of a guideline, yes, use it for those telephoto links. And what I would say is at the telephoto length, based on the effective focal length, not on the written focal length, I'm going to talk about that in just a second.

But when it comes down to the wider angle lenses that you're using, keep in mind, whatever scene it is that you're shooting, if you can't shoot the scene at a certain shutter speed because you need to freeze the motion, then that's the rule that you should be following the rule to freeze the motion whatever speed x is going to be. So forget the reciprocal rule kind of at those lower or wider angle links. Okay. Let's go ahead and show you guys an example here. I have my rebel right here, and I On the rebel, I have the standard kit lens. This is the 55 to 250 millimeter lens.

Now honest lens, it does have image stabilization, although it's not that solid, this is just a standard kit lens, okay, but what we're going to do is we're going to shoot this shot and we're going to shoot at 250 millimeters. And remember, the effective length of this is 250 times 1.6. So I want to keep my shutter speed fairly high, especially if I'm standing up. If I do other things like sit down or use a tripod, of course, I could slow it down. But for standing shots, I do want to keep it fairly high if possible, one 400 of a second is where I would want to be to make sure I don't get any camera shake whatsoever. But we'll probably see that that's not really possible because our scene is rather dark.

Now why is it that I'm shooting at a 400 millimeter effective focal length, that's something that we do a lot. We shoot for lens compression in a lot of different kind of scenes because it creates really cool effects. And that compression effect, again, is the pulling of the background closer to the subject. For this kind of a scene we have our runners that are about, I don't know, 150 feet, maybe around 150 feet down this little pathway, and we're going to shoot them so that it looks like this pathway kind of disappears. Over this hill, and we just have them standing there, the trees that are in the background are gonna be pulled right up right behind our subjects, we're gonna get a really cool kind of just portrait shot with them solid out in the scene, it's going to look pretty awesome as far as that compression effect goes, That's why we're going for this length.

But we are gonna have to play around with our shutter speed to make sure we can get an adequate shutter speed so we don't get any camera shake. Okay, so I've got Tony screaming, blocking that spotted light. Now I'm sitting down here we have two options here. I can go with my knees up, but the thing is this isn't that comfortable for me. So I'm going to go ahead and just go cross legged style, okay, if I had a curb or something to sit on, I probably don't need that, but I don't. So we're gonna go cross legged.

And now I'm gonna bring my elbows right to both sides of my knee. And then here to my eye and now we have a nice little tripod action. Okay, so a human tripod action type action. We're done here we got some really nice portraits and because I liked this seems so much I'm probably going to shoot some nice shots of them just running. We're going to do is bring my shutter speed up to one, two videos a second. We're going to go probably to ISO 200.

And we're going to try and get some sharp shots of them running along this path right towards me, I'm gonna probably use AI servo to just because they're gonna be running directly into the lens, I'm not gonna make you guys stick around for that because we're gonna be doing a ton of this stuff. And we have been doing a ton of stuff. So hopefully you enjoyed this tutorial. Hopefully you have a better idea of how lens compression worked and how you can use it in your artistic compositions, and also how that reciprocal role kind of correlates to your lens focal length and to your overall shutter speed. All right, we'll see you all in the next video.

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