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Photography Tips: Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority?

Photography Tips: Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority?


Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority? You can find different settings on the settings wheel of your camera. Below that are shutter priority and aperture priority. What do they do and when do you choose which one?

You can set your camera to automatic (P or Auto); the camera automatically selects all settings. Easy and fast, but you have little control over the end result. The opposite is M, manual, where you make all exposure settings yourself. In between you have shutter priority and aperture priority . Semi-automatic, or semi-manual, just the way you look at it.

Aperture priority

In aperture priority (Av or A on the wheel) you set the aperture opening yourself. The camera chooses, with the help of the exposure meter, the correct shutter speed and ISO (if you have set the camera to auto ISO). With the aperture you determine how much light falls on the sensor through the ‘iris’. The aperture, and how much light it transmits, mainly affects the depth of field of your photo. With a shallow depth of field, a small portion is sharp, the foreground and background become blurry or blurred. With a large depth of field, a large part of the photo is sharp. The larger the aperture (that means a small f / number in your settings), the smaller the depth of field.

When is aperture priority best deployable?

Aperture priority is therefore best chosen when you want to influence the depth of field. One genre in which this is common is portrait photography. You may want to pull the model away from the background by making it largely out of focus. This is common in portraits. In that case you choose a large aperture, the camera chooses the other settings. But you may want to show the environment, because it tells something about the person. You can also squeeze the diaphragm a bit more. Most photographers also do that when they shoot landscapes. Often the goal is to have as much sharpness as possible, so a large depth of field. An aperture of f / 16 or f / 22 may be desirable. Remember, if the light is low, you will have to choose a relatively large aperture. After all, the camera reads the exposure meter and chooses the correct ISO and shutter speed, but in low light it could be that the shutter speed is too slow and motion blur occurs. So check your photos and possibly increase the aperture in low light.

Shutter priority

Shutter priority works in principle the same as aperture priority , only in this case you keep control over the shutter speed. The camera chooses the other exposure settings, namely the aperture and the ISO (if on ISO). The shutter speed determines how long light falls on the sensor. The longer, the more light. However, with a (too) slow shutter speed, you can see small movements in the camera or the subject. This creates motion blur. This can be a desirable effect, and is one of the reasons for choosing shutter priority.

When is shutter priority best deployable?

There are two sides you can go with the shutter speed, or shutter priority. You can set the shutter speed short, which freezes your movement. How long you have to set the shutter speed for that depends on the focal length of your lens, but with a shutter speed of, for example, 1/500, you are often right. This allows you to freeze drops, for example when you drop something in a container of water. However, you can also use shutter priority to create motion blur. For example, a waterfall, where you want to show the water as a milky mass. With a slow shutter speed, and the camera on a tripod to keep the rest of the picture sharp, you can do this. Or to draw with light , or panning, whereby you move the camera along with a moving subject. For all these applications, shutter priority is fine, because the camera ensures that the exposure of your photo is good.

With both ‘priorities’ you can creatively fill in your photo however you want. With a little help from the camera, so you have more time to spend on your composition, for example. The use of shutter priority or aperture priority is therefore certainly not a weakness; many professionals, such as sports photographers, wildlife photographers or portrait photographers, make use of this. Give it a try!

Also read: Best Camera Settings Portrait Photography

Amy Schutte / Editor