An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

Best Shutter Speeds for Macro Photography


Shutter speeds should at least match the focal length of the lens. For example if I am using a 50mm lens, then I should use a shutter speed of 1/60 or faster. For a 100mm lens I use a 1/100 or faster shutter speed. The closer the lens gets to the subject, the more critical the shutter speed is. I took a picture of a wasp at 1.5X casually moving and cleaning her leg on her mouth and the leg was totally out of focus. Being only 1 inch away caused some problems.

Think of it this way. You take a picture of a jet flying 2 miles away at 600 mph with a 1/60 second shutter speed. Now you take a picture of that same jet flying 600mph but it is only 10 ft away. You need a much faster shutter speed since the jet takes up your entire picture. The jet will be blurred in both photographs (if examined closely) but the jet just takes up a small amount of the area of the photograph when you are 2 miles away from it. With macro photography the subjects are really close, so even tiny movements cause noticeable blur.