How to Change Shutter Speed on Sony a6000

Hi folks. This is a short, concise, no-fluff guide on how (and why) to change the shutter speed on a Sony a6000. This same advice is also applicable to the other APS-C Sony bodies (a6100, a6300, and so on).

Included will be a brief explanation of what shutter speed is and what it can be used for. Let’s jump right into it.

Image of a Sony a6000 with shutter priority circled.

How to change the shutter speed on a Sony a6000?

First of all, you’ll want to spin the mode dial on your camera to the “S”. This stands for shutter priority. What shutter priority does is allows you to adjust both the shutter speed, and, if you choose, the ISO. Aperture will be automatically controlled by the camera. 

At this point, you can change the shutter speed by spinning either of the other two wheels/dials on the camera (you can change what the wheels do in the settings menu also). In manual mode (“M”), shutter speed can still be adjusted but in addition to other settings as well, but manual is a whole different complicated subject that we won’t get into now.

Star trails in the sky from a long exposure.

So what is shutter speed?

The concept of shutter speed is quite simple. It’s basically just how long your camera’s shutter is open. If the camera shutter stays open for longer, more light gets in, whereas keeping it open for a shorter time allows less light to get in.

On most cameras, you can shoot in a range between 1/4000th of a second to 30 seconds. However, a lot of cameras (including the a6000) also support something called “bulb” mode, allowing for extremely long shutter speed times with the help of a remote shutter/timer.

Lights from cars captured with a slow shutter speed.

Why would I want to change my shutter speed?

Capturing Action

Being able to change your shutter speed opens you up to so many new avenues of photography.

First of all, if you need to capture action or a fast moving subject, such as a vehicle or someone running, you can adjust your shutter speed to be shorter. Shooting with a fast shutter speed (1/2000 for example) allows you to capture crisp, clear photos of fast moving subjects.

On the flipside, lowering your shutter speed and using a “panning” technique lets you to capture blurred action, allowing you to heavily emphasize movement in an image.

Low Light Photography

However, a lot of photographers also push their shutter speed up in order to shoot in darker environments, or to “emphasize” movement.

If you’ve ever seen the cool pictures of star trails or weaving lines of car lights (like the photos above), those were shot with a long shutter speed.

For these, you’ll either need a (very) stable surface or a dedicated tripod. Taking handheld long exposure images is pretty much impossible.

Speaking of tripods, if you’re looking for a solid tripod that won’t break the bank, here’s my two favorites below.

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UBeesize 67” Camera Tripod with Travel Bag, Cell Phone Tripod with Wireless Remote and Phone Holder, Compatible with All Cameras, Cell Phones, Projector, Webcam, Spotting Scopes
Neewer Professional Heavy Duty Video Tripod 78.7 inches Aluminum Alloy with 360 Degree Fluid Drag Head, Quick Shoe Plate/Bubble level for Nikon Canon DSLR Cameras Video Camcorders, Load up to 33pounds
Title
Small 67in Generic Branded Tripod
Huge & Heavy Neewer Tripod
Summary
A cheap tripod from a random generic brand. Goes up to 67in and is more durable than you'd expect. Works well enough for the vast majority of photographers.
Way more expensive, but incredibly beefy. You could probably throw this thing off a roof and it would survive. Cheaper tripods are adequate but this thing is a beast.
Thumbnail
UBeesize 67” Camera Tripod with Travel Bag, Cell Phone Tripod with Wireless Remote and Phone Holder, Compatible with All Cameras, Cell Phones, Projector, Webcam, Spotting Scopes
Title
Small 67in Generic Branded Tripod
Summary
A cheap tripod from a random generic brand. Goes up to 67in and is more durable than you'd expect. Works well enough for the vast majority of photographers.
Thumbnail
Neewer Professional Heavy Duty Video Tripod 78.7 inches Aluminum Alloy with 360 Degree Fluid Drag Head, Quick Shoe Plate/Bubble level for Nikon Canon DSLR Cameras Video Camcorders, Load up to 33pounds
Title
Huge & Heavy Neewer Tripod
Summary
Way more expensive, but incredibly beefy. You could probably throw this thing off a roof and it would survive. Cheaper tripods are adequate but this thing is a beast.

Some more tripod options on Adorama and eBay.


Get out there and experiment!

Hopefully this gave you the absolute basics about shutter speed. My biggest advice would be to just get outside and play around.

See what effects changing the shutter speed has, try to photograph some moving cars, or even just capture yourself running through the frame.

As you adjust settings and look at the results, you’ll get a better feel for both the technical and artistic aspect of shutter speed.

The movement of a dancer’s lights captured by slow shutter speed.

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