If you have been wondering how a digital camera is made and all that it has to offer, you may still have unanswered questions regarding some of its key functionalities, especially the shutter. So, how does a shutter work on a digital camera and how can you use it to your advantage? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • A top rated camera’s shutter opens and closes at regular intervals so as to expose the internal mechanisms, such as the sensors and the lens, to light.
  • A slower shutter speed is a great choice for night photography, shooting the night skies, or for landscape photography.
  • A fast shutter speed is a great option for any scenario involving a moving subject, such as wildlife photography and sports photography.

What is a Camera’s Shutter?

If you’ve heard a camera’s shutter click into place as a photograph is captured, you have likely always wondered exactly what a shutter does. Simply put, a camera’s shutter is a device that allows light to pass through the camera’s lens for a pre-determined period of time.

How Does a Shutter Work on a Digital Camera?

A shutter works by opening and closing at pre-determined intervals, allowing enough light in to create digital images. Without light, there can be no digital image, after all, and an electronic shutter controls just how much light is available to the camera’s lens and the rest of the components.

How to Use a Camera’s Shutter to Your Advantage

Here are some useful tips to help you make the most out of your camera’s electronic shutter so you can unlock the full potential of your digicam.

Insider Tip

A camera’s shutter is a device that allows light to pass through the camera’s lens for a pre-determined period of time.

Adjust the Shutter Speed

Adjusting the shutter speed will change the amount of light that is allowed to pass through the rest of the camera, thus impacting the image quality. Modern cameras typically feature a dedicated shutter button, which will allow you to adjust the shutter speed on the fly. There are many different types of shutters, including the focal-plane shutter, the simple leaf shutter, and the rotating shutter. Additionally, certain cameras allow for rolling shutter speeds, which change at regular intervals.

Slower Shutter Speeds

A slow shutter speed will result in longer exposure to light, which can be useful in some scenarios. There are various types of shutter mechanisms, with lower shutter speeds being an especially popular choice for night photography or for attempting to get a good shot of the starry skies. Landscape photographers tend to rely on slower, or longer, shutter speeds to help keep images crisp.

Faster Shutter Speeds

Choosing a faster shutter speed will limit exposure time to a light source. This is a great choice for capturing moving subjects, such as animals and athletes. A faster shutter will give the camera’s digital sensors a quick glimpse into what is going on, without exposing them to light for too long. It is, therefore, crucial to understand how a digital camera sensor works and how you can manipulate it to get quality images.

Insider Tip

A shutter works by opening and closing at pre-determined intervals, allowing enough light in to create digital images.

F.A.Q.

Why do cameras have mechanical shutters anymore?

It is true that certain types of cameras rely on sensors instead of actual shutters, but an electronic or mechanical shutter can still be useful for offering absolute control over a light source.


How do digital cameras compare with smartphone cameras?

In almost every way, a dedicated digital camera will outperform a smartphone camera. Smartphone cameras lack the option to change out the lens and very rarely feature mechanical shutters. Of course, technology is advancing every day so who knows what the future will bring.


Why do digital cameras compress images?

Digital cameras compress images to preserve space on the camera’s internal memory or external memory card. This can typically be adjusted via the settings menu.



STAT: Some cameras employ a 100% electronic shutter, created by turning on and off the imaging sensor’s signals. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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