If you’re new to the video production game, you’re probably getting caught up on all things gear-related. What is shutter speed, anyway? What about frame rates and frames per second (FPS?)

Shutter speed and frame rate are two closely related — and often confused — camera settings. The good news is, with a deeper look into what each setting means, you rely on them to really bolster your video making game.

Ready to see frame rates and shutter speeds in action? Scroll on for a helpful video tutorial.

What is a frame rate in video?

Frame rate is the number of individual frames that comprise each second of video. Also known as FPS (frames per second), the most common frame rates are 24, 25, and 30 frames per second.

What is shutter speed?

Shutter speed is the amount of time that each individual frame is exposed for. In video, shutter speed is almost always in fractions of a second. The number used in setting your shutter speed refers to the denominator of that fraction. So, if you set your shutter speed to 60, that means each frame is exposed for 1/60th of a second.

Shutter speed rule of thumb 👍

You want your shutter speed to be approximately double the number of frames per second that you are recording. So, if you’re recording at 30 frames per second, you want your shutter speed to be 1/60th of a second.

[Video tutorial] Shutter speed vs. frame rate

Here’s why frame rate can be mistakenly equated with shutter speed: some people believe 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.

Typical frame rate for shooting video is around 24 frames per second, (and sometimes 25 or 30). Shutter speed means you’re exposing each individual frame for 1/100th of a second.

(P.S. Unsure about other video editing terms? Here’s our A-Z glossary.)

Fast shutter speed vs. a slow shutter speed

A fast shutter speed such as 1/400th of a second will produce crisp frames that have a choppy look when played back. On the other hand, a slow shutter speed (such as 1/30th of a second), produces a series of blurred frames looks smoother when played back.

Even though you generally set shutter speed to be double the number of frames per second, you can achieve some stylistic effects by straying from the norm. Shutter speed will have a noticeable effect on the look of your video, especially when it comes to motion.

A faster camera shutter speed renders a high-energy, crisp tennis ball, while a slower frame rate gives you a blurry bouncing ball — and a more relaxed mood.

Don’t forget to play around with it! You may find that a higher or lower shutter speed will better suit the vibe of your video.

Frequently asked questions

What is shutter speed?

Shutter speed is the amount of time that each individual frame is exposed for when shooting video on a DSLR. For example, if you set your camera’s shutter speed to 60, each frame is being exposed for 1/60th of a second.

What is frame rate?

Frame rate is the rate at which a shutter opens and closes, or a sensor captures video during one second. Typical frame rates are 24, 25, and 29.97, 30 and 50 and 60.

What does FPS stand for?

In video production, FPS stands for “frames per second.”

How do I change the shutter speed on my camera?

Use the dial on your camera to adjust the shutter speed. On a DSLR, you’ll need to change to manual mode to change the shutter speed by moving the dial right or left. With higher shutter speed, the camera will expose your shot to fewer seconds of light.

Learn more helpful video lessons with Vimeo Video School.

Originally published in 2019, updated in June 2022.