The Vimeo Blog

More Posts

Frame Rate Vs. Shutter Speed - Setting The Record Straight

Sam Morrill
February 24, 2011 by Sam Morrill Staff

UPDATED SEP 2015: We’ve got a brand spanking new tutorial demonstrating the nuances between frame rate and shutter speed for you. Get some more clarity on these camera settings right here.

In this day and age of constantly changing gear and technology, there’s a growing set of vocabulary that we video creators are all expected to learn. With so much jargon being thrown around, it can be easy to forget certain concepts or confuse them with others. A prime example of this is demonstrated by the confusion between frame rates and shutter speeds. Let’s take a minute to clarify.

First, check out this video from --jL, which does an outstanding job explaining the difference between the two concepts:

Now let’s recap: Although frame rate and shutter speed are related, they are completely separate concepts.

Frame rate refers to the number of individual frames that comprise each second of video you record, also known as FPS (frames per second.) The most common frame rates in video are 24, 25 and 30 frames per second.

Shutter speed refers to the amount of time that each individual frame is exposed for. In video, the shutter speed you use will almost always be a fraction of a second. The number used in setting a camera’s shutter speed refers to the denominator of that fraction of a second. For example, if you set your camera’s shutter speed to 60, that means that each frame is being exposed for 1/60th of a second.

People often make the mistake of equating frame rate with shutter speed. In other words, some people determine that if they are shooting with a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second, that they are in turn shooting 100 frames per second. This is not the case. Depending on the camera you are using and the frame rate you have selected, you are probably shooting at either 24, 25 or 30 frames per second and exposing each individual frame for 1/100th of a second.

As a rule of thumb, you want the denominator of your shutter speed to be approximately double the number of frames per second that you are recording. In other words, if you are recording at 30 frames per second, you want your shutter speed to be 1/60th of a second.

Even though we generally set the denominator of the shutter speed to be double the number of frames per second, you can achieve some interesting stylistic effects by straying from the norm. Shutter speed can have a very noticeable effect on the look of your video, particularly when it comes to motion. A fast shutter speed such as 1/400th of a second will produce a series of crisp frames that have a choppy look when played back. A slow shutter speed such as 1/30th of a second, on the other hand, will produce a series of slightly blurred frames that have a smoother look when played back.

If you’d like to see for yourself, go find some running water (a park fountain, a faucet, rain, etc.) and film it at different shutter speeds. Or, watch this test video by Paul Hamilton:

The faster shutter speed renders crisp droplets of water and has a frantic mood, while the slower frame rate renders flowing water and a has a relaxed mood. Play around with it! You may find that a higher or lower shutter speed will better suit your style or the mood of your piece.

71 Comments

David Salas

Thanks for this. I have always religiously shot at 1/50th of a second (25fps) as i was taught but I was less than clear as to why this was so. This tutorial explains the why and now I feel I will experiment more. Thanks peeps: )

Morinaga Kuni

So why was it? I dont think it mentioned why, only the classic "shutter speed to be approximately double the number of frames per second" . My own idea is that this is to emulate film better where some time is lost to drive the film cart...

D.R. Win

There is also good reason when using digital cameras.
If you are shooting at, say 25fps, and your shutter speed is an even multiple of the inverse (say 1/50th), your shutter speed is always perfectly synchronized with your frame rate. This means that the shutter is always open at the right time for each frame. If you set your shutter speed too far away from this number, in some frames the shutter will not be fully open for the entire frame.
Of course, at some frame rates there will not be a shutter speed available that fits the formula precisely. But the closer you approximate it, the higher percentage of frames will be crystal clear.

Martijn Kruiten

D.R. Win, it's an old comment, but still I'd like to set it straight for future visitors to this blog: you are really confusing frame rate and shutter speed here. In digital camera's, if you set your frame rate to 24fps and your shutter speed to 1/50s, that means that every 1/24s the shutter is opened for 1/50s. There is really no need to choose a multiple of your frame rate. You are only limited by the lower boundary, as you cannot open your shutter for longer than it takes to capture a frame.

Multimedia Marketing Group Plus

@martijnkruiten, I'm not sure your explanation is entirely correct either; its true you are limited by the threshold or lower boundary of your frame rate, but if you shoot at 30fps, and choose 1/100 shutter speed or some other non variable to the frame rate, you will see some weird horizontal lines appear on the camera footage, I've had this very problem with a couple different cameras, including a 60D Canon, and dji Osmo. I've always played with the rule of keeping close to double the frame rate, or a multiple higher (i.e. shooting at 30 fps, 1/120 shutter speed is fine).

Martijn Kruiten

@multimediamarketinggroup: that has to do with the frequency of the artificial light you're shooting in, which is 60 Hz in the US and 50 Hz in most of the world. It has nothing to do with your video frame rate per se.

Multimedia Marketing Group Plus

@martijnkruiten So (I'm US based) then I need to consider the shutter speed in conjunction with the frequency of indoor lighting? If I'm using 60 Hz lighting equipment, then do I need to keep the shutter speed in a multiples of 60? This is new information for me, can you point me in the direction or explain a little more? Much appreciated thanks!

Clint Hanson

@multimediamarketinggroup: I would say yes, generally you will get better results, but there is no absolutes, because it also depends when your shutter starts to open compared to when the light decides to dim. For instance, say you are shooting at 60 frames per second, and the multiple you pick is 1/120 of an exposure time, and your lights are flickering at 60 Hertz. Well if your camera starts recording, meaning on the first frame it starts to open the shutter at time 0.0 but that is also the same part of the cycle of the light where it is going dim, then every frame your record will be the exact time when those lights are the dimmest. You can see where that could be an issue. Or you could have issues where motion blurred objects are lit for half of the time in the frame and not the other half by those lights, so the flickering will essentially be caught on that moving object. If you are panning the camera, that change can create an artifact in the background.

Maureen McGloin

thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you

Joe Westcott

This was very helpful, thanks.
Particularly If you are going to motion track your shots, then a higher shutter speed is vital to a good track.

Bob Parker Plus

Wow, I finally am starting to understand! The videos included really make it clear.
I am trying to get video of some raptors flying at a wildlife center here in Oregon, and with these tips I can do better.
Thanks again.

corey_kaye

Super helpful!

When Frame Rate (FR) = Shutter Speed (SS) you're shutter is open for 100% of the frame capture, and 1/30 is pretty slow but very natural to the eye.

When the FR > SS there's a lot of blackness captured with each frame, keeps the frame sharp, especially when things are moving fast.

Is recording a FR < SS even possible? I think no.

Lastly, if videoing something really fast like cars on a track that you intend to slow down, shooting at 60fps is a given. Question is... will the slower motion look better if shot 60fsp @ 1/120 or 60fps @1/400? I'm guessing it's going to look more natural at 1/120th, so when and why would we EVER video faster than 1/120th of a second?

Rockwellian Films

Hi there. Love the clarity of this video. Thanks a million. Question: let's say I'm shooting at 30 frames/second using a DSLR, and I want to shoot wide open. F/2.8. And if I follow the twice-frame-rate-rule, I set the shutter speed at 1/60. As you see, I've just locked in three parameters (F/stop, shutter, and frame rate). How can the camera give me proper exposure if I've already told it what to do with those three controls? Through ISO? Or is it better to also lock in the ISO, then just let the lighting condition dictate the F/stop? And use ND filters to give more flexibility? Thank you.

Ronen Z

This is what your guy said…This may appear obvious to some, but in filmmaking, your shutter speed will always be half your frame rate for normal film capture…

Darnell Witt Staff

This lesson is ridiculously clear and helpful. Great vids. Thanks, Sam + -- jL + Paul!

aaron nevin

Great video, super informative, thank you very much!

nsb!

Excelent, great work, thanks a lot!

Willi Kampmann

Thanks for the explanation! This makes me wonder: sometimes I record handheld video with a not stabilised lens. I usually stabilize it later in FCPX, but micro stutters tend to basically destroy individual frames. The resulting video looks twitching and almost makes your eyes tear! This is especially evident in low-light video (when using auto settings), but not necessarily only there.

I believe this is because the shutter speed is so slow that quick camera motion smears the frame and therefore, when the video is stabilized, the smearing stays and becomes even more visible. Previously I thought only a faster framerate could solve this, but now I think this can be remedied by just increasing the shutter speed, right? Of course this becomes more difficult in low light situations, but I would take increased noise instead of this twitching any day. If the video gets too choppy I think there are digital solutions available for re-adding motion blur as well. What do you think?

Miles Prinzen Plus

This is an excellent explanation and really helped for me to get my head around what I suspected, but did not fully understand. Also, I figure they use a high shutter speed (~400) for those war-action scenes in many films and TV shows.

Martin Sne Plus

WO-HOW! I feel like a fool. Why haven´t I figured that out myself! O, Sancta Simplicitas" Thank you very much!

Trig Simon PRO

In the first video, he says the shutter speed should be double the frame rate...1/60th second for 30 frames per second, stating that was ideal. But, why not 1/120th of a second for 30 fps? Would that not give me a sharper image when I am taping dance recitals...less motion blur?

Jose Ventura

there was a comment above which read " thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you" and I share her sentiment.

Arvind

Perfect....crisp and clear...great job

Michael Keller

Great video. This is the first time I've seen this explained clearly. Thanks a lot.

Tom Kaszuba

Thank you. This explanation was superb. Made a difficult topic easy. Sign of a great teacher.

Shiply

Simple and useful guide. Thanks for sharing with us Sam.

Paul Elliott

This article is a lifesaver. Thank you so much, this is something critical that had me baffled as a photographer moving to film.

John Link

Why does the practice of setting the shutter speed to twice the frame rate result in a good result? I understand the general idea but why is the suggested multiple 2 rather than 1.5 or 3 or a greater number? Does this have anything to do with the Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist–Shannon_sampling_theorem

Joao Santos

In the running water video the plane of focus is different between fast and slow shutter speed examples...

Leonid Mutti

Hi all,
May I ask you a strange question?
Exists any way to record with a camera at a frame rate >>1/24?
A way to create a time lapse movie with a video camera and not with a photo camera?

claudio286

Sono perfettamente al corrente della differenza tra frame rate e shutter speed da tempo ma non sono assolutamente d'accordo nel dover impostare uno speed shutter, per esempio lavorando con un frame rate di 25 fps di 50 come shutter speed! Io lavoro con una sony FDR AX100 quindi parlo di una 4k con frame rate di 25 P e non mi sognerei mare di impostare uno shutter speed cosi basso ed amaramente ne sono costretto quando c'è poca luce... L'effetto scia che produce è intollerabile per un video in 4K! Comunque per esperienza mia personale acquisita nel corso degli anni, il problema dell'effetto strobo che si produce lavorando con shutter speed elevati si evidenzia solo su i monitor dei pc in quanto hanno la maggioranza un refrech rate intorno ai 50 60 Hz alla massima risoluzione e non hanno altri sistemi di correzzione, ma in campo di televisori di ultima generazione e mi riferisco agli ultimi televisori della panasonic che sono arrivati addirittura ad un refrech rate di ben 2 KHz vi assicu

claudio286

ro che è praticamente indistinguibile la differenza tra i 25 ed i 50 frame rate al secondo, ma addiritura senza arrivare a questi tipi di tv. Ho un samsung UE555D7000 quindi non recentissimo, al quale ho collegato un riproduttore tipo MINIX 8H ed invio tramite hdmi uno streem 4k che il tv me lo converte in tempo reale in maniera perfetta alla risoluzione dello schermo full HD ma con una fluidità incredibile, senza effetto scia! e con gli shutter speed della videocamera in automatico... indistinguibile da un 50p!

ian ferguson

ok i'm no expert in fact i came looking to refresh my memory on settings and using them as a prelude to pressing my camcorder into service while not simply accepting the auto as the only means.
but to answer some of you regarding frame and shutter rates i'll cover projection instead as i'm not so sure i could do the subject justice from the recording angle.

initially movie making involved taking 8 frames per second as the human eye (generally) sees this as a quite smooth movement due to something called persistence of vision,(persistance of vision is a bit like looking at a brightish light then looking away you see the image of that light superimposed on whatever you are now looking at) the problem was the human eye does detect flashes at 8 times per second, watching a movie flashed at this rate would give you a steaming headache, will have to continue in another post if i'm allowed as it's too long:-(

ian ferguson

since film and processing was very expensive this was solved by projecting each of the 8 frames twice so raising the flashes to 16 times per second which most would see as a continuous (solid) light.
so far so good, but to add sound (which was an optical track along the edge offset from the image track) the film transport was too slow to give quality sound.
to increase the transport was clearly going to mean speeding up the film (using more feet per minute) what was settled on was increasing the frame rate by a factor of 3 so 24 frames up from 8. with the large installed base of very expensive projectors it meant to upgrade then, simply meant changing the gearing and adding an audio unit, rather than replacing the entire projector, bearing in mind production rates then were not anything like now it would make the roll out quite quick across the country.
as a foot note as i recall, edison built the first cinema called i think the black maria, see part 3 if i'm allowed

ian ferguson

the word orange comes to mind as some reference to the place name, although i could be wrong on the place name.

anyway it was the projection needs that dictated the frames/shutter speed which was itself dictated by the audio track needs, in this case it was frames/flashes (or times it was projected) so you got 24 frames projected 48 times.
i will have to have a think about what it means for frame/shutter speed when taking a movie, although clearly one that matched the projectors would have been ideal then, methods are different now so the rules my no longer apply.

i'm sure you can google to check/correct anything i've said, it's all from memory, so dont shoot me ok:-)

and hello to all from a newbie :-)

LIDF & Slow Fall Cinema PRO

I love shooting with a really high shutter speed at times cause the results can be really interesting but it's not without its drawbacks. Either way, it's fun to experiment. I was taught the same rule as most mention, 1/50 for 25 frames, 1/60 for 30 and so on but once I got comfy with all that, I began to venture out and again, I sometimes love the results and other times, not so much. It's hit or miss but it also depends on what your shooting, the lighting conditions, etc. etc. etc. It never hurts to experiment and most of us shoot digital, so it's easy to hit DELETE if you dislike!!!

Mary Fischer

I"m curious if you like the higher frame rate for movement videos and 30 for just interview-like videos?

J Mage

Just a quick aside....that owl video was amazing.

IndeLente

Clear enough, thank you very much!

manikps

Great video to understand the concept!

Triple M Gang

But I think it is important to also add that if you increase the shutter speed, quality does degrade to a certain extent the higher u go. It's not just a matter of one has sharp focused stills with jittery video and the other has blurry stills but smooth motion. I noticed at higher shutter speeds, the quality seems to decrease.

mrs.mojorisin'43

My husband bought me a Pentax digital HD video, camera, and stills. A year has gone by and I am embarrassed to admit that I preferred talking videos and pictures with my mobile phone. No more!
I'm so psyched, I hope I can sleep tonight. Tomorrow morning I'm so determined to capture a rainbow of the most colorful, crisp, crystal clear variety of flowers! Bright red to pink double knock-out roses, petunias, snap dragons and the grass hoppers, butterflies, and bumblebees. Thank you from the bottom of my heart..I finally get it! My 92 yr. old mom with lupus will be so happy to see her flowers close up. My sister and I started mom's garden in 2011. We are blessed to have her another summer. This summer I wanted to make it her best and thank you all at vimeo for the positive feedback you've shared! Peace and Love, Gina from Chicago

Sachi Sukprasert

be kind , smile shine its mine .Sachi Be kind to other,

Mary Fischer

Ahh, I had to watch this a few times (and read it) to really understand the concept. Thank you for clearing this up for me. I didn't realize that my "frame rate at 60" was really my shutter speed. Duh!

Mary Fischer

So, I did the ceiling fan experiment and I have some questions. I wanted to see the difference between 30 frames per second and 60 frames per second at the same shutter speed. I felt like the 60 x 1/500 was smoother, but I felt like the detail in the 30 x 1/500 was actually just a little clearer. Is that correct? And why would that be? I would have thought the 60 would be the better all-around option for smoothness and clarity than the 30. Thoughts?

freetimed

Avdshare Video Converter will take change MP4 file frame rate as an example and it can also serve to change AVCHD, MTS, M2TS, MXF, XAVC, ProRes, MPG, AVI, FLV, MOV, WMV, MKV and almost all video format frame rates

W.E.

By far, the best explanation video for Shutter Speed vs Frame Rate with DSLR cameras.

John Brown

While I own several DSLRs I just got my first DSLR that shoots video. I played with it yesterday and as ignorant as I am about video, I still got some video that excites me. Really enjoyed this easy to understand article with videos included. The first thought in my mind is I'm going have to break down and buy some ND filters

Shri Hari Productions by Pankaj

Now these days when cameras available upto 60 and 120 fps for a full HD video, then :
1. Do we need to use 30 fps for our standard shoots ?
2. Shall we shoot always at higher frame rates so we can get good slow motion for few of the shots later. is there any drawback for shooting higher fps always ?
3. we intended to watch our final videos on LCD Tvs too, so is there any relation of Tv Frequency (60 Hzs) and video fps .
4. if we shoot all footage at 60 fps with suggested shutter speed of 120 for all standard shots so can we also shoot at 150 or 180 shutters speed for fast actions like dance (to get better detailed slow motion later) or we should switch to 120 fps for fast action shots for best details in fast action shots ?
5. what would be the results if we mix two different FPS footage while editing and how to manage that as somewhere we want slo-mo somewhere normal play.
pls reply and clarify my doughts ?
regards

pankaj aneja
pankaj.photography@gmail.com

Mwebesa Andrew Brave

i need to make acrowdfunding video how can you help me am deep in africa

This conversation is missing your voice. Please join Vimeo or log in.