Hi folks. This is a short, concise, no-fluff guide on how (and why) to change the shutter speed on your 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.
How to change the shutter speed on a Sony a6000?
Spin Mode Dial to “S”
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, by default, the ISO. Aperture will be automatically controlled by the camera (unless you switch to full manual mode).
Adjust Shutter Speed
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” on the mode dial), shutter speed can be adjusted in addition to other settings as well, but manual is a whole different complicated subject that we won’t get into now.
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.
Why would I want to change my shutter speed?
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 (following the subject while your shutter is open) lets you to capture blurred action, allowing you to heavily emphasize movement in an image.
Long Exposure Photography
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, check out one of my favorite mid-budget options below.
Practicing with Shutter Speed
Get outside and experiment!
Now that you know the basics of shutter speed, the best way to learn it further is to get outside and start practicing!
Below, I’ve included a list of “exercises” that I used when first learning shutter speed.
One of my favorite things to do with long shutter speeds is to photograph light trails from cars.
Find a bridge or busy intersection and set up a tripod. Choose a longer shutter speed (I generally aim for speeds of 10 seconds or longer at night-time) and press the shutter button as a large volume of traffic is going by.
This generally works best later in the day or at night, as long shutter speeds let in more light (thus, shooting in broad daylight would just produce a pure white image).
Low Light Scenes
If you try to take a photo of something without enough light, you’ll get a dark, underexposed image. Now, if you open up your shutter, you can pull vastly more detail from a scene.
A very simple exercise is to step out of your house when it’s dark, set up your tripod, and try to photograph your own home.
Play with your shutter speed, and see what sort of speed you need to fully capture your house with just the illumination of nearby street lights.
Finally, practice photographing the night sky. While this may not be as possible for some people due to light pollution (city dwellers like myself), shooting the stars can teach you a lot.
Astro is quite the complicated subject, so I’ll point you over to a great astrophotography guide from my friends over at Lonelyspeck.
Delving into the manual controls on your camera can seem intimidating at first, but with some practice it becomes second nature!
Like I said, get outside and shoot some photographs and you’ll learn quick.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means I get a (very small) commission if you purchase things through my links. If you do, thank you for the support! <3