By March 27, 2013 13 Comments

Myth Busted: Do You Have To Use a Shutter Speed that’s 2x Framerate for Video? Not So Fast…

Boy oh boy do we get some great questions here on DiscoverMirrorless, and one of the latest questions tackles one of the biggest myths there is about shooting video.

One of our readers named Mike asked about one of the common “rules” you hear floating around the interwebs.  You know, the one that says that when you’re shooting video you need to use a shutter speed that’s 2 times the framerate.  (“Need”…  Ouch – I hate that word!)

Is that true?  Not so fast…  Watch the video above and read my response below to find out just what I think of the Shutter speed “Rule.”

There is no one perfect setting for all…

I have been swamped with folks asking (a few arguing too!) about the notion that you “must” use a shutter speed for video that is “two times the framerate”. I adjust my shutter speed in 1/3 increments from 1/40th sec to 1/250 all the time in the studio and know the results of making those changes, and I think my video is looking really good. :  )

I do think we need to choose the most appropriate shutter speed for the situation and the desired effect, but just like aperture settings – there is no one perfect setting for all.  It’s frustrating to see photographers move into a new medium and reach out for info that turns out to be wrong. But we are here to help change that.  We need to be as comfy shooting a “talking portrait” with video as we are with shooting a still portrait with photo.  Not a small task, but not one that’s out of reach either.  The video above shows me at various shutter speeds so you can really see what happens at different shutter speeds. 

Most of the mirrorless cameras we suggest here on this site are used by pros or emerging pros, of folks that want the skill set of working pros.  All are welcomed! Most have different framerates to choose from.  Some have specific framerates attached to their resolution settings, like 1080p @30fps, 720p@60fps… but some offer lots of variations.  It’s all about capturing motion.

That’s the long and short of it.  YOU decide as an imagemaker how you want the motion to be created then choose the shutter speed that works.  If you choose to shoot at the popular “24p” setting, that means you will have a motion picture “look” to the movement, and if you choose a 60fps framerate you will have an ESPN type of “look” to your motion.  24p means there’s 24 jpegs shown in a sequence every second and 60p means there’s 60 jpegs shown in sequence each second.  The more jpegs show each second, the more defined your image will be.   

Ok, that’s a start.  Now you decide how each jpeg “frame” of video will be created.  Do you want to use a longer shutter speed to add a little motion blur to your image?  Do you want the crisp clear definition of a high shutter speed? A photo of a dog running may look like a mess to you at 1/30th second, but the running dog shot at 1/4000th has no movement and may look too static to your eyes. You will choose a shutter speed that works for you right?  Maybe panning with the dog at 1/125th to blur the background while keeping the dog sharp enough is what you are thinking.  Well, we need to develop those skills for shooting video as well.  This is one area that photographers do well in – choosing the right settings for the mood of the image.  A lot of video pros don’t have that touch BTW and love to talk with me as a still shooter on how I “see” my images as I create them.

Whether you’re shooting stills or video, one thing remains the same…  You are creating images, and no matter if they’re static or if they’re moving, they are a product of your creative vision.  Making images is like playing a musical instrument, only in this case, you’re using a camera instead of a guitar.  To get the most out of your instrument, you need to practice and try new things with it.  Get to know it like you know the back of your hand, find out just what it can do and soon you’ll be making images like a virtuoso!

WC

About the Author:

Scott Giorgini – Scott, the creator of MirrorlessCentral.com, is a veteran of Radio and TV, having been involved in those industries for over 20 years. He got his start as a DJ in 1987 and was producing mix shows for radio by 1989. By the mid 1990s, he was producing radio commercials and shows, which later led to TV, where he was producing ads and shows on the local scene. In 2006, Scott started consulting for a TV Advertising Studio and got involved with every facet of production, from conceptual, to writing scripts, to directing, editing, graphic design, web marketing, to shooting (using HUGE studio camera rigs and DSLRs for b-roll and location shooting) and even hosting shows. Through his voracious study of mirrorless cameras, Scott also realizes that most of the technical advances in imaging were coming from the mirrorless category, and he wholeheartedly believes that mirrorless is the future of digital imaging.

13 Comments on "Myth Busted: Do You Have To Use a Shutter Speed that’s 2x Framerate for Video? Not So Fast…"

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  1. Joetsu says:

    What am I missing? Here, Will shows that a shutter speed 2x the frame rate isn’t vital nor even necessary in some cases. Yet the Carol-Pansonic Guy video that follows shows the Panasonic expert saying it is important to go to the Flicker Decrease setting when in non-iA mode in order to 2x the frame rate.

  2. ryanal says:

    Indeed. It may be a good thing for a site such as this to have different views. But it is unseemly for Will Crockett to refer to those who advocate the 2x shutter speed as not knowing what they are talking about.

  3. Steven Lynch says:

    In my experience (and I do have a ton of video experience) there are reasons for everything and there are situations where it is ok to break the rules.

    The 2x the frame rate rule is based off of a scenario in which there is motion and you want the most “Natural” film looking footage. I think where the issue is is that there are many people out there who throw around these numbers and figures like it’s an unbreakable rule. In fact 2x shutter speed is a good starting place, but it’s not the only way.

    I believe what Will is trying to do here is show that it can be done another way and make people think outside of the box. The mere fact that in this he can take what would normally be an ISO 1600 exposure down to ISO 400 by changing the shutter speed, while still maintaining a very good image quality proves a very big point. Another example would be to run a higher shutter speed in order to be able to use a shallower depth of field in bright sunlight.

    Mark Toal is not incorrect in the hangout with Carol, but they were looking for a good formula to get started with video. Also when you are doing flicker reduction it is science based off of what Hz the flickering is happening. If the electricity is running at 60hz you want to have the shutter at 1/60 or doubled. The same applies to 50hz electricity but 1/50. In Europe where they are running a PAL system the electricity is running at 50hz in North America it is NTSC 60hz. It gets even more complicated from that, but that’s pretty advanced already. Look it up if you want more info. :)

  4. Hi Joe,
    Great observation sir, it’s just different points of view. We think it’s good to show all sides of a conversation. From my perspective, the 2X rule is not true, to others they are stuck on it and will not ever change.
    I made the video BTW after seeing speakers at WPPI refer to this 2X rule as if it were written on a stone tablet and saw how some scoffed at others for not adhering to the rule. So, I shot a bunch of footage with a few different cameras to see if I was missing something – I wasn’t.
    Hope it helps someway?
    WC

  5. Hi Rynal!
    I hear you and apologize if my words were offensive. I’m a pretty literal guy and tend to see things in black or white. I need to work on that. But, when I see speakers on stage at a conference declaring that you MUST shoot a shutter speed at 2X the framerate, then I need to jump in there. In the video, I showed that the rule of 2X is not true (technically speaking), and I showed how you can use the shutter speed as a creative tool to shape your video the way you want it to look. So please help me, and I’m not being sarcastic at all, to me it seems like those speakers and photographers at the seminar I went to do not know what they are talking about? Am I wrong? It’s cool to tell me if I’m out of line. Thanks!
    WC

  6. Joetsu says:

    Steven–Thanks for the well thought out answer.

  7. Yes, Steve, that really is an excellent response. Thanks!
    : )

  8. ryanal says:

    Will: I understand your reactions to the conference. It’s annoying when something is presented as dogmatic truth, when you know it isn’t. And I learned from the – very well made – demo you posted. It’s unfortunate that your video came right on the heels of the Carol/Mark conversation. It made it appear as if – as if – you were directly responding to Mark.

  9. Steven Lynch says:

    Thanks guys! Here’s a little food for thought on my own experiences. I often get asked questions about shooting stills and film and for awhile I have been getting more how to set up settings for video. I was always a 2x rule person myself… for awhile… but I remember actually recently somebody was asking me some questions regarding settings and I was attempting to explain to her how to keep the shutter speed double what the frame rate was. It was a good starting place, but she was mixing in high speed still photos at the same time and it didn’t really make sense to tell her to keep the rule going. It started to actually make me think about what exactly I was “Preaching” I’m a fairly humble person and I do a lot of self reflection, but this moment made me realize if I can’t give a solid answer as to why I’m telling somebody to do something… then why do they have to do it? I don’t think a lot of those “Professional Speakers” at WPPI and other places even think about what they are preaching sometimes.

    I shoot a G5 and there is no manual controls, in fact I don’t even know what it is shooting for settings. All I know is that when I push my red button and look through the viewfinder I am focused on framing my video shot and recording something really nice. It’s actually a very liberating experience.

    I just purchased a GH2 (today actually) and I may be using manual settings for some video usage, but I’m not going to be withholding myself to a rule when it’s not necessary, especially when my lighting kits are not powerful enough to run a 1/120th f2.8 at iso 400 (more like 1600 like Will has in this video or worse!) I would be more than happy doing 1/60 or 1/30 for my usage when I can get a lower ISO. I think people can forget just how much continuous light you need to record a well lit video with proper exposure when you come from shooting with Flash.

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