how shutter in dslr camera works

How Shutter In DSLR Camera Works?

Press a release/click button and you hear a sound in your DSLR camera. This sound pops up through an electronic shutter. Why there is a shutter in DSLR camera? Well, the electronic shutter is related to the light which enters into the camera. Electronic shutter gives photographers the advantage to play with light. Let’s read how shutter in DSLR camera works?

How Electronic Shutter Works?

How do we see things around us? You know this basic concept of science. Light from the source travels in straight lines. When it hits the objects, It bounces off and enters into our eyes. The reflected light helps us to see the objects. Eyelids work as a shutter for blocking the light.

shutter as eyelid

DSLR Shutter works like eyelid to block the reflected light.

In the similar way, there is a shutter which works as eyelids in the camera.  The electronic shutter in the DSLR camera is a very powerful tool. It can control the light by blocking it with in a set time frame. All the professional photographers understand its potential to block and allowing the light. There is an immense scope of creativity in photography, if you play with shutter. You can capture motion blur, star trails, group of stars and light painting. You can achieve it by playing with different shutter speeds.

Shutter Speed And Light:

The shutter in DSLR camera is managed with speed per second (e.g. 1/125s).The DSLR comes with an embedded different speeds. You have to choose the speed by the command dial of the camera. The set speed determines the opening and closing time of electronic shutter. The shutter functions by pressing the release/click button. Once you press the release button, the shutter goes up (opens) and let the reflected light come in. The longer the shutter is opened, the more reflected light it allows to enter into the camera. 

how shutter in dslr camera works

Command dial helps in setting the shutter speed.


Why Photos Are Extra Bright/Black?

If photos are too bright, It means, you have left the shutter opened for much longer time than expected. If the shutter gets closed quickly, It will block the light immediately. It means, your photos can be under-exposed and there will be higher amount of shadow. When available light can not enter into the sensor in desired amount, it exposes the photo very dark (under-exposed). You have to understand making the perfect balance between light and shadow.


Fast shutter speed works like this. It blocks the light very quickly.


In the case of harsh sun light, you can choose fast shutter speed more than 1/320th of a second. Fast shutter speed blocks the light very quick. If the sun is very low and ambient light is not enough, choose the slow shutter speed below 1/100th of a second. There is no thumb rule to pick a fixed shutter speed for particular scene. Every photographer learns the art of playing with shutter by continuous practice.

What Makes Photos Blurry?

Shutter speed also controls the amount of blurring and sharpness other than aperture and ISO. Slow shutter speed like 1/25th of a second will result in blurry picture, if your hands do not stay steady. Well, nobody have a steady hands to such an extent. We, all professionals adapt this with incessant efforts. That is why, tripod saves us in such cases.

how shutter in dslr camera works

A shot made with 1/25 of a second, resulted in blurring the hand purposely to show the movement.

1/25th speed of a second takes longer to close the shutter. Either DSLR gets shaken between opening and closing the shutter or targeted subject moves! Both situations make picture blurry except the targeted subject is well focused. In case, you are not carrying a tripod, there is a trick to avoid the blurry image. Hold your breath till the time shutter closes. Or, nudge your elbow in the stomach to keep your hand steady! By practicing these, You can get photos without blur. But It may not work always if it is biting cold in the air! You may be shivering all the time. If you are a landscape photographer, Keep tripod in your bag always.

Read also: How DSLR Camera Focuses?

There is an another mechanism in DSLR. It is known as Aperture priority. The correct settings of aperture and shutter make a well exposed photo. These two components have limitations too. The ISO sensitivity works as Brahmastra in such limitations. You need to learn exposing the subject correctly. This can be achieved with the help of exposure meter. It is a built-in technology. We will talk about the exposure meter, ISO sensitivity in the next blog. Read about aperture here (External link)

Post has been written  for the beginners. Many broader technical details/jargons have been left out purposely to avoid the confusion for them. Feel free to ask for more suggestions through comment box.

Siddharth Malkania

Siddharth Malkania is a journalism graduate. He studied photography at India's premier institute. Having worked as a photojournalist for two years, he traveled to Tokyo, Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam to brush up his skills of photography. Currently, He is a professional photographer based in New Delhi, India.

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