How to manually set shutter speed on digital camera?
January 4, 2005 11:50 AM   Subscribe

how do you hack a digital camera and set the shutter speed yourself ?
posted by sgt.serenity to Technology (13 answers total)
If your digital camera has a "M" or manual setting, put it on that setting and then select the shutter speed and aperture as described in your camera's user's manual. Each camera is different so you will have to supply information about what model you are using if people are going to help you further.
posted by matildaben at 11:54 AM on January 4, 2005

hi everyone , i just got a olympus d-395 for xmas and i would really like to be able to set the shutter speed for myself , it seems to think i need a 2 second shutter speed if i'm not using the flash mobile phone camera was never as annoying as this ! is there any programs out there that hack into your camera and let you set the speed yourself ? its way too blurry ! - my last resort may be to tape over the flash ..
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:54 AM on January 4, 2005

A direct link to the manual for your camera [pdf]

Maybe you have the camera set to 'auto'?

"The factory default setting is (PROGRAM AUTO)."

see page 38 of the pdf for more. Hope this helps.

[here is the link for the main page of manuals available for download (just in case I screwed up)]
posted by squeak at 12:12 PM on January 4, 2005

Note that if you manually lower shutterspeeds in conditions where there is not much light and you don't you use a flash, your photos will be underexposed, i.e. too dark.

Modern cameras (like yours) are usually pretty good in automatically selecting shutterspeed/aperture combinations. If the camera selects a shutterspeed longer than, say, 1/50 second, you'll need to use the flash to get decently exposed and sharp photos.
posted by CKZ at 1:03 PM on January 4, 2005

On cameras that won't let you set the shutter speed manually, you can usually entice it to use a faster shutter speed by raising the ISO. This will allow the camera to get the same exposure with a shorter shutter time.
posted by Caviar at 1:23 PM on January 4, 2005

I thought the same thing, but in this case ISO is a dead end.

D-395 specs: ISO Auto, 50-150 (equivalent)
posted by smackfu at 1:43 PM on January 4, 2005

The other day I totally phreaked my cell phone by using it to call my mom. Totally k-rad, d00dz.
posted by keswick at 2:30 PM on January 4, 2005

Even if you could increase the shutter speed, your pictures would be too dark unless you increase the aperture correspondingly. And chances are, if it's dark (i.e. indoors), the camera is already using the largest aperture it has. So it wouldn't help.
posted by kindall at 2:32 PM on January 4, 2005

If you really want that kind of control over your camera, get a DSLR. The prosumers like Canon's digital rebel are really coming down in price.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 3:48 PM on January 4, 2005

There are a lot of little point and shoot digital cameras that offer great control over the shutter speed and aperture. Asking for full manual control + manual ISO selection isn't outrageous. My favorite site for digital camera looking-->Steves Digicams

BUT, given that you have this here camera.. I'd suggest setting the brightness compensation (look in the manual) to -2.0, or whatever the lowest setting is. It will take a meter reading, figure out how much light it needs, and then reduce the exposure either by changing the lens aperture (f stop), or by increasing the shutter speed. This technique has worked out ok for me in the past. When you go back into normal lighting conditions, don't forget to reset it.

Alternately, you should experiment with changing the exposure mode, and/or aiming it at different things to lock the meter reading. So if you're taking a picture of your friends at the bar - you aim at the liquor behind the bar (which hopefully has more light on it), press the shutter half-way, and then turn and take your picture. If it does lock exposure, it will also lock focus most likely, so try and pick something at a similar distance.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 6:09 PM on January 4, 2005

it seems to think i need a 2 second shutter speed if i'm not using the flash

That's because you probably do need a 2 second shutter speed if you're not using the flash.

The sensors of a camera are a lot less sensitive to light than your eye. With cameras, there are two settings that control how much light hits the sensor: shutter speed, and aperature. The aperature is the part of the lens that can open and close like the iris of an eye. Most consumer-grade cameras don't have very large aperatures.

my mobile phone camera was never as annoying as this!

And I'll bet your mobile phone's images when taken in darkened rooms were hopelessly underexposed, too. When you set your camera in auto-mode, it will try and record everything properly exposed. If it's dark, however, there's only so large the aperature can get, then it's a matter of time. Think of it like filling a bucket. The larger aperature is like openning the faucet, but you can only open it up so much, then you have to wait.

its way too blurry

If you are using available light (i.e., not using a flash), the camera needs to use long shutter speeds to compensate. That's why you're getting blur. It's difficult to hand-hold a camera much longer than 1/60th of a second without getting some blur. It's very difficult to do it at 1/30th of a second. 2 seconds is impossible -- your hands just aren't steady enough.

Since you can't increase the exposure sensitivity over 150, your options are to either get a tripod, or use the flash. Anything else and your shots are going to be blurry. This is why good photography isn't just point and shoot, no matter how the manufacturers like to advertise it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:17 PM on January 4, 2005

1/30th? Dang, I shoot handheld at 1/8th without a flash regularly. It just takes a good bit of practice and surgeon's hands. I will admit, however, that 2 seconds is out of the question. If you're gonna take longer exposures sans flash, you must have a steadying device. Monopods ain't too shabby if you think three legs is a bit excessive.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 11:41 PM on January 4, 2005

TGO - Some cameras (usually with built-in lenses) have lens stabilization. For the SLR crowd, Canon and Nikon also offer stabilizing lenses (IS and VR, respectively) that allow you to take crazy-long exposures up to about 1/8th, as you point out.

Oh, and a monopod isn't going to fix a 2 second exposure. No way, no how. I own a pretty decent pod, (maybe I just have jittery hands?). They're mainly used for photography where mobility is of the most importance, but where you need a stable platform for telephoto shots, which need even FASTER shutter speeds to compensate for magnification.

The basic rule of thumb is, the fastest you can shoot is the inverse of the focal length. So, 1/60th sec. for a 60mm lens. 1/300th sec. for a 300mm zoom, and so on. This is the reason you see Sports Illustrated guys on the sidelines at football games with monopods -- they have to carry around big, hulking 600mm f/4 glass if they want to shoot at night (even with all the lights) and still have a chance to run away if a 300 lb. linebacker comes charging out of bounds.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:56 AM on January 5, 2005

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