Set a fast shutter speed
The faster the shutter speed, the shorter the amount of time the sensor is exposed to light. Very fast shutter speeds in the region of 1/1000 sec to 1/8000 sec enable you to stop the motion of fast-moving objects, allowing you to record details that you aren’t able to discern with the human eye. This comes at a price: a reduction in light. To ensure that enough light is recorded to create an exposure, you may be forced to choose a larger aperture or a higher ISO sensitivity – or both.
How fast a shutter speed do you need to guarantee sharp results? There are two things you need to weigh up: how fast the subject of the photo will be moving and how accomplished you are at holding a camera and lens still. The rule of thumb for counteracting the blurring effects of camera shake is to ensure that the shutter speed is equivalent to or faster than the focal length of the lens, such as 1/200 sec for a 200mm lens and 1/50 sec for a 50mm lens. If you’re shooting with a DX camera like the D500, then it’s also wise to factor in the 1.5x crop factor of the smaller sensor – so 1/300 sec for a 200mm lens.
Of course, a lens equipped with Vibration Reduction can take the edge off camera shake, enabling you to shoot at slower shutter speeds than the recommended ‘safe’ handheld speed. But it won’t have any effect on the speed of the subject. As Andy highlights (right), to freeze the motion of a sprint cyclist or a diver, you’re still going to be looking at shutter speeds of 1/6401/2000 sec, and the only way you may be able to achieve that is by using a large aperture or by increasing the ISO.
If the sharpness of an image rests on the choice of shutter speed, it makes sense to work in shutter-priority mode. This allows you to set a specific shutter speed, with the camera adjusting the aperture to balance the exposure. An alternative is to work in manual mode, setting your preferred shutter speed and aperture combination, then switching the ISO to ‘Auto’.