How Do I Find a Camera With Fast Shutter Speed?

camera with a fast shutter speed
A DSLR camera, such as the Canon 80D pictured here, will provide the fastest shutter speeds available. Canon

Finding a camera with a fast shutter speed is actually fairly easy. It's making that camera actually shoot at the fast shutter speed that can be difficult.

Most consumer-level digital cameras can shoot at shutter speeds up to 1/1000th of a second, which usually is plenty fast enough to stop the action of a moving subject. Just look in the specifications listing for the camera to find its shutter speed range.

If you need a faster shutter speed, consider upgrading to a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, which offers shutter speeds that can exceed 1/1000th of a second. Advanced speeds are perfect for shooting some special effect photos, such as capturing the splash of a drop of water.

The bigger challenge is making the camera shoot at its fastest shutter speed. With most point-and-shoot cameras, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed based on the shooting conditions. You can "help" the camera select a fast shutter speed by selecting shutter priority in your camera's settings or by using the mode dial. Some basic cameras don't offer this type of setting. To see if your camera has a shutter priority option, look through the on-screen menus and see what types of settings are available. If your camera has a mode dial, a shutter priority mode (sometimes listed as Tv) should be listed on the dial.

Another option is to set your camera's scene mode to sports to force the camera to use a fast shutter speed.

Finally, you might be able to overcome some missed photos because of shutter speed problems by selecting your camera's continuous shot mode, which tells the camera to shoot several photos in a row in a short amount of time.

More and more point-and-shoot cameras now give photographers the ability to shoot at a specified shutter speed. Older basic cameras typically don't provide this option.

With advanced DSLR cameras, you always can manually control settings, such as shutter speed; however, DSLR cameras are aimed at more advanced users and are far more expensive than point-and-shoot cameras. Invest some time in studying the user manual to learn to use it correctly.

If you want a shutter speed beyond the standard of 1/1000th of a second, there are options—but you're going to end up spending a lot more money than you would for a fixed-lens camera or an entry-level DSLR. Some such cameras can shoot at shutter speeds as fast as 1/4000th or 1/8000th of a second.

Such high-end shutter speeds aren't really needed for everyday photography, but they can be used in special types of photography. For example, if you want to shoot with a wide-open aperture in bright sunlight, with a lot of light entering the lens, using an extremely fast shutter speed allows you to limit the amount of light that strikes the image sensor, resulting in a properly exposed photograph. Likewise, photographers who shoot high-speed action, such as motorsports, typically find that 1/1000th of a second isn't fast enough to freeze the action properly. DSLRs can handle this type of photo with ease.

If you need even faster speeds than 1/8000th of a second, you're likely relegated to a specialty high-speed camera, rather than a digital camera that's made for everyday photography.