What's a good shutter speed for wedding etc?

Started Feb 17, 2013 | Discussions thread
ProfHankD
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Reliably getting sharp images at events
In reply to malch, Feb 18, 2013

I've only shot a handful of weddings, but I've shot many similar occasions (used to do a lot of news photography) and I'm a professor, so I'll give my long-winded opinion anyway....

malch wrote:

1/200 should be more than fast enough for people moving only slightly.

Look elsewhere for the problem:

I agree. 1/200s should often be fast enough even for slow dancing.

* Inadequate DoF. Probably a factor if you were shooting at f/1.8

Not likely to be the sole cause....

* Camera shake. Are you stabbing at that shutter release?

Very likely, especially if using the camera's rear display. Use an EVF or rigid LCD viewer (under $20 on eBay) so you can brace the camera against your face. Also, make sure you are stationary when you fire the shutter -- it's easy to not realize you are still moving while trying to get/keep the subject in the frame. Looking closely at the images, camera shake looks different from focus blur, so you should be able to tell which is the problem.

* Missed focus. Tweak AF settings and practice your technique.

Very likely. Autofocus can be slow and, more importantly, can easily pick the wrong thing to focus on. If you must use autofocus, I'd suggest center spot focus and leaving everything framed loose enough to fix composition by cropping later. For me, manual focus with peaking is more reliable.

* Faulty lens. Not likely but these things do happen.

Very unlikely.

Should you just use flash? NO! Flash will disturb everybody in a typical wedding service or mulling-about reception setting. Straight on-camera flash in such venues usually gives you lousy dark backgrounds and flat foregrounds; bouncing off the ceiling can work, but ceilings are often too far away and thus require really obnoxiously bright flashes. I'd only use flash when and where I was explicitly given permission to use it.

Should you turn-up the ISO? Maybe. Grain even at 6400 might not be a problem in typical print sizes.

Ideally, take some test shots before everything starts and examine them with magnification to judge what works best.

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