16 Sep Camera Shutter and Different Types in DSLR – Fred Smith

camera shutter and different types of shutterI’m Fred Smith and this is my Digital Photography Blog. I am one of Calgary wedding photographers at Kallos Studio. The intension of this Blog is to refresh, instruct or to give a different perspective on the fundamentals of photography. I am starting this Blog at the beginner’s level, so for the beginner it will be explanatory, for the hobbyist it might be a refresher and it might give the professional Photographer a new or different perspective, since they live this day in and day out. I am going to write a little about different types of shutters in DSLR, the two most common types of shutters that are used in DSLR are the “ Leaf Shutter “ and the “ Focal Plane Shutter”.

Camera Shutter – Leaf Shutter

The Leaf Shutter is a mechanical shutter, meaning it actually moves. It is made of one or more metal or plastic leaf blades that open and close to allow light to touch the sensor. This is the type of shutter made famous on the opening scenes of “ James Bond “ films. It’s also known as an Iris shutter and a diaphragm shutter. Advantages of this type of shutter is that equal amount of light hits the entire sensor at any aperture and have even exposure of the scene. And a big advantage is that because of the design, the strobe can sync at any shutter speed. Disadvantage though is that while focal plant shutter can boast an impressive shutters speed of 1/8000 second, leaf shutters will be limited to around 1/500 to 1/1600.

Camera Shutter – Leaf Shutter

The Focal Plane Shutter is also a mechanical shutter and is the most common in today’s DSLR’s (digital single lens reflex camera). This shutter moves a bit like a curtain, with one side pulling back to open up completely and the opposite side pushing forward to close. At faster speeds, the first side will begin to pull open and the second side will not wait for the first side to open completely before it starts to close, essential wiping an opening to be exposed to the sensor. An advantage of this is type is that the shutter Speeds are very fast, they average about 1/4000th of a second in DSLR. A disadvantage is, if you flash sync speed is 1/200th of a second or slower, your built-in will not fire. If you’re using an external flash, a portion of your image will be dark because the shutter is moving faster than the flash can fully fire off.

In reference to shutter speed, I need to briefly mention key shifting. Key shifting is slowing down or speeding up the shutter to get more or less ambient light The stutter speed controls the ambient light (any light not coming from your flash) exposure, and the light from your flash exposure. The faster your shutter speed is, the less ambient light your sensor will receive. So depending on how powerful the flash you’re using is and how it’s directed at your subject, will determine how dim or bright the background appears.

All right, that’s it for this entry. Now that you know different types of shutters and how they work, as well as the most common pros and cons, lets see which one suits you the best. Remember, it’s not the tool; it’s the way that you use it. Amateurs built the Arc; professionals built the Titanic and the Hindenburg.



Fred Smith is one of the Calgary photographers at Kallos Studio. Fred specializes in Calgary wedding photography and portrait photography in Calgary. Fred also provides online photography tutorials at Kallos Studio Youtube Channel and seminars in-studio at Kallos Calgary Studio.


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