Cover Photo by Zdeněk Macháček, free to use

So you often find yourself in scenarios with moving subjects and would like to get a rough idea of what shutter speeds are good to freeze motion for different kinds of moving subjects? To help with that I’ve prepared a reference table/cheat sheet of good minimum shutter speeds to freeze motion in different moving subject scenarios.

Keep in mind that there are ballpark figures meant to be a good starting point, but your exact mileage may vary.

Here’s the breakdown of the shutter speed recommendations:

Shooting Scenario
Good minimum shutter speed to freeze motion
Handheld shooting of fixed subject
1/60s *
More forgiving handheld shooting of mostly fixed subject / Landscapes
Street photography / Models that move a lot
Slow sports
Faster sports/people running
Fast cars/Birds flying
Very fast sports/fast-moving animals

A Note on Handheld Shooting

1/60s is usually the minimum shutter speed you’ll want to use when shooting a fixed subject handheld with a lens that has a focal length of 50mm or less to avoid blurry shots from camera shake. Your mileage may vary though and you might find that you get better results with higher shutter speeds. It all comes down to how still you can be while shooting, and it’s something that can be perfected with practice.

For shooting handheld using longer lenses, you’ll instead want to follow the reciprocal rule, where you’ll want your shutter speed to be at least 1 over the length of your lens. So, for example, with a 105mm lens, you’d want to use a shutter speed of 1/105s or up, and since 1/105s doesn’t exist, you’ll go to the first faster shutter speed available at 1/125s. Again though, this is just a rough rule of thumb, and you may have better results with shutter speeds that are a bit faster.