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Handheld Shutter Speed Calculator

Aneejian · Mar 24, 2017 · 3 mins read.

Handheld Shutter Speed Calculator

Shutter Speed Calculator

Enter focal length of your lens in mm.
Enter your camera's crop factor.
Effective Focal Length = Crop Factor * Focal Length
Enter the stabilization stops offered by your camera.
Recommended Shutter Speed

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General Rule

The general rule of thumb for 35mm (full-frame) has been the reciprocal of the focal length.

This means that for a 50mm lens, the minimum shutter speed when hand-holding is \(\frac{1}{50}{\ sec}\).

\[\scriptsize\frac{1}{focal\ length} = \frac{1}{50}\]

Since the move to digital and multiple sensor sizes, the generally agreed upon rule is that the effective focal length is the number to keep in mind.

So, on an APS-C cropped sensor, a 50mm lens would need a \(\frac{1}{50 \times 1.6} = \frac{1}{80}{\ sec}\). On a longer telephoto, say a 300mm on a full-frame (35mm) you would need \(\frac{1}{300}{\ sec}\).

Image stabilization

Camera (and lens) makers are now adding image-stabilization to their lenses, which lowers the shutter speed needed. Generally, the makers will rate the level of stabilization in stops. Keep in mind these ratings are used for marketing and maybe a bit inflated, but I am going to do my calculations based on the numbers being correct to keep it simple.

If you are using a 100mm lens with a 2 stop image stabilization system on an APS-C cropped sensor then:

\[\scriptsize\frac{1}{effective\ focal\ length} \times 2 ^ {\ image\ stabilization\ stops}\] \[\scriptsize\frac{1}{100\times1.6} \times 2 ^ 2\] \[\scriptsize\frac{1}{160} \times 4 = \frac{1}{40} sec\]

Thanks to this StackExchange post and thanks to the contributor chills42 for providing a good explanation on how to calculate ideal shutter speed. Got inspiration for making the tool from that post.