Shutter: What Is It In Cameras?

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

The shutter is a component of a camera that controls the amount of light that is allowed to pass through and reach the film or digital sensor.

It is a mechanical piece that opens and closes very quickly in order to capture a single frame of the photograph.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of the shutter, how it works, and what types of shutter technologies exist:

Shutter What Is It In Cameras(i3mc)

Definition of Shutter

A shutter is a device in a camera or other light-sensitive instrument that controls the amount of light reaching the film or image sensor. It consists of an opaque curtain that opens and closes rapidly over the light-sensitive surface. When opened, the shutter allows light to enter, and when closed it blocks off any further incoming light. In modern cameras, shutters may be electronically controlled and powered by a battery rather than manually operated.

The amount of time that a shutter is open can vary according to its use. For example, in a longer exposure time such as when taking photographs of images in dim conditions such as night shots and other low-light settings, it is beneficial to keep the shutter open for longer periods of time so that more light can enter into the camera’s film or image sensor. Conversely, in bright conditions such as sports photography or capturing fast-moving subjects, it may be desirable to keep the shutter open for very short periods of time so that only fractions of seconds are captured and no movement appears on the resulting photograph.


Shutter speeds are measures in fractions of a second which can range from 1/4000th (or higher) up to several minutes depending on your camera model’s capabilities. Slower times are used when you need more light; faster speeds will freeze motion so you can capture fast action without blurriness.

Types of Shutters

The shutter is an integral part of any camera and its primary purpose is to control the amount of light needed to expose the imaging medium. This can be a digital sensor, film or plate. A camera’s shutter regulates how quickly light is allowed to pass through onto the imaging medium and also how long it is allowed to stay there. This process is referred to as “exposure time” in photography terminology. Shutters come in many shapes, sizes and types but all provide some form of an aperture through which light passes through onto the imaging medium during an exposure time set by the photographer.

The two main litmus tests for categorizing shutters are focal plane shape (curtain or moving) and type of motion (lever, spring or electronic).

  • Focal Plane Shutter: This type of shutter consists of a pair of thin curtains that move horizontally across the film plane when triggered. The first curtain opens up for a set time, allowing light onto the film/sensor before being replaced by a second curtain that then closes upon itself ending the exposure.
  • Leaf Shutter: Leaf shutters are very small in their design and consist of blades arranged beneath a central pivot known as ‘Leaves’. These blades can be opened via power sources such as batteries, manual pull rings or even motorised pulleys which force them apart when triggered thus allowing light onto the imaging surface for an exposure period set by the photographer using mechanical controls such as ring pull cords or dials on modern cameras.
  • Spring-Driven Shutter: A spring-driven mechanism consists of three parts; a flat metal disc at its centre (a spring tensioned shaft); two support arms connected to each side; and finally two curtains which hang from these arms in front and behind each other like two open castles gates set up around each edge of its centre disc (hence its ‘castle’ nickname). When activated, this central disc winds up fast enough creating enough tension to cause both curtains/gates open simultaneously once they touch on each other’s edge enabling them to release at every rotation cycle thus exposing that same amount of time it took for that same cycle – usually ranging from fractions-of-a-second up until four seconds depending on how tight one has preloaded their jewel springs beforehand – thus switching off light illumination directly impacting on those same exposures times seen above with different results depending on user experience hence mastery levels for professional photographers or would-be users alike trying out these types vintage shutters found mostly in ancient cameras from well over three generations ago!

Shutter Mechanism

A camera’s shutter is an integral part of its structure, as it is responsible for controlling how long the image sensor is exposed to light. When you press the shutter button, the shutter opens and closes to allow light to pass through and reach the image sensor, which creates the final image. The shutter is also responsible for creating motion blur or freezing motion, which is why it is so important in photography.

Let’s look at the different types of shutter mechanisms and how they work:

Getting started with your own stop motion storyboards

Subscribe to our newsletter and get your free download with three storyboards. Get started with bringing your stories alive!

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

Mechanical Shutters

Mechanical shutters come in a range of types, from crude in the oldest cameras to advanced designs created recently. Most commonly available are leaf shutters, focal-plane shutters, rotary-sector shutters, and ring-disks.

  • Leaf Shutters – A leaf shutter is constructed as an internal device with a series of overlapping metal blades that open and close like curtains. These are usually found controlling the aperture in lenses on classic rangefinder cameras and many medium-format cameras. They provide all-or-nothing exposure times of less than 1/1000 sec., making them ideal for subjects such as sports photography or wildlife shots, where timing is essential.
  • Focal Plane Shutters – Focal plane shutters allow even the longest exposures to be made at any speed up to 1/10000 sec., ensuring accurate exposures when timing is critical due to movement in the scene. As its name suggests, this type of shutter is located immediately behind the film surface (or image sensor) itself where it opens and closes with two curtains sliding side by side — often referred to as first or second curtain — exposing the whole frame evenly from top to bottom (or vice versa).
  • Rotary Sector Shutters – This type of shutter has a disk that rotates past two slit openings on its circumference which determines how long an exposure will last before automatically stopping again ready for another shot. The benefit here is that this mechanism gives predictable timed exposures so it’s handy if you’re not always certain just what length time your image requires beyond what can be achieved with your lens aperture adjustments alone.
  • Ring Disk Shutter – The Ring Disk Shutter uses successive slits around its circumference similar to a Rotary Sector but they overlap to create a more even effect than their predecessor hence allowing more consistency between frames if photographing fast-moving targets or changing scene lighting conditions evenly across each exposed area throughout the shot’s lifespan if required. This type also makes certain you don’t ever have any unexpected bands or gaps in your image since one portion isn’t completely exposed until it overlaps with another too!

Electronic Shutters

In digital cameras and other electronic imaging devices, a shutter mechanism is used to expose and record light onto an image sensor. Electronic shutters can be implemented with rudimentary electronics or as complex mechanical assemblies.

The most basic version of the electronic shutter is composed of a photosensitive transistor triggered by optical signal. When light strikes the transistor, it switches on, allowing current to flow through a resistor and then to ground. This sets off the system and the shutter moves internally before releasing the light to hit the image sensor.

More sophisticated shutters use vibrations instead of openings and closings: When vibration is triggered, rods positioned over an electro-optical sensor allow light to pass through in intervals that approximate an open–closed sequence. This system is cheaper than a traditional mechanical shutter and allows for more finely tuned exposure times without sacrificing image quality.

Other higher-end cameras utilize micro-mechanical components for greater control over exposure times and dynamic range capabilities. In this system, complex drivers control tiny levers which actuate blades in microseconds, allowing much finer control over how much time light has to interact with each pixel on the sensor array. The benefits can be seen in a reduction in noise or blurring from long exposures as well as enhanced sensitivity from fast ones.

Benefits of Using Shutter

Shutter is a device which is used in cameras to control how long light is allowed to fall on the image sensor. It is one of the primary elements of a digital camera through which the image is captured. Shutter speed is often an important factor in creating great photos and is a powerful tool for photographers.

In this article, we will be discussing the various benefits of using shutter in your digital camera:

Faster Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is a critical component of any photograph, as it determines the length of time that the camera shutter remains open to let in light. Faster shutter speeds allow photographers to take bright photos in low light, effectively freezing motion and detail.

With faster shutter speeds, photographers can capture action shots and freeze movement to produce crisp and clear photos with no blur. Shutter speeds also grant photographers more creative control, allowing for powerful and dramatic images where shutter speed can be used as an effective tool for telling a story.

Some of the scenarios where faster shutter speeds are beneficial include:

  • Capturing outdoor sports such as mountain biking, surfing or kayaking
  • Animal photography, particularly birds in flight
  • Trying to capture drops of water with an interesting splash
  • Photographing moving vehicles without motion blur, such as cars on a race track

Taking fast action shots requires stillness from your subject; if they move while the picture was taken then it will be blurry because they were not frozen in time when the photo was taken. Players in sports may need to keep still until after you take your shot; using a faster shutter speed will ensure that even the slightest movements won’t ruin your pictures.

Better Light Control

Shutter is one of the most important and versatile features in cameras today. It is a device that controls how long the light strikes the imaging sensor while taking photos. The use of shutter improves every picture’s final output and also provides some unique creative freedom to photographers.

Using shutter in photography provides better control over light when shooting an image. With shutter you can control settings such as shutter speed, number of images taken per second (frame rate) and exposure length to achieve just the right balance between available light and illumination from strobes or flashes. Shutter speed, for instance, is used to change how quickly or slowly the film or digital sensor is exposed to the light. Slow shutter speeds allow more time for ambient lighting sources to expose pictures properly, allowing for deep shadows and well exposed vibrant colors; faster shutter speeds can be used with very little available light if flash units are being used simultaneously.

A variety of other benefits come with using a camera’s shutter feature. Photographers have more control over capturing moving objects, leaving behind blurred trails that add a sense of drama or action when reviewing an image afterwards; they can also take advantage of exclusive effects like star filters on their lenses by taking longer exposures that show pinpoint stars sharp against a brighter sky background; they can even be in their own shot if they choose thanks to this feature too! Ultimately, better control over artificial and natural lighting (including controlling flare), along with plenty creative freedom are just some of the advantages gained by using proper shutter techniques for every photo taken.

Disadvantages of Using Shutter

Shutter is a mechanism that controls the duration of a camera lens’ exposure to light. The shutter speed determines how long a photograph will be exposed for, which in turn affects the outcome of the photograph. Although shutter can be an effective way to regulate exposure, there are some disadvantages that should be considered when using shutter in a camera. Let’s take a look at those disadvantages.


When using the shutter, one of the main concerns is shutter noise. This noise can easily disrupt a photo session or ruin any attempt at capturing a candid image. Also, when shooting indoors with flash, the loud clacking sound resulting from even slow shutters can be problematic and distracting. Some cameras do come with an electronic shutter mode which eliminates this problem; however, not all cameras have this type of shutters and users are left with no other option but to use their regular mechanical shutters.

Additionally, since most SLR cameras have an internal mirror that flips up when the shutter button is pressed, there is also significant camera shake which can ruin some photos if shot at slower shutter speeds. In order to avoid camera shake in low-light conditions or when using telephoto lenses, you may need to invest in a tripod and utilize remote triggers whenever possible.

Finally, some mechanical shutters are quieter than others and lack of this feature may cause serious problems for photographers who need to remain stealthy while taking pictures and videos.


The main disadvantage of using a shutter in cameras is the cost associated with purchasing it. A camera shutter is an integrated component of the camera and changes the way images are captured by allowing light to pass through a predetermined area in a specific amount of time.

If a shutter needs to be replaced, then it can be expensive as well as inconvenient because most camera shutters have to be replaced by professional technicians. Additionally, depending on the design and model of your camera lens, you may need to purchase special tools or adapter rings in order to install the new shutter assembly.


In conclusion, understanding the basics of shutter and its components can help you take your photography to the next level. It is important to remember that shutter speed and aperture will be the two main settings that control exposure, and shutter speed is particularly important when capturing action.

Adjusting these settings will affect different aspects of your photos and processing them in post-production can further enhance your images. As you gain more practice in using the different features of your camera, you can continue experimenting with different shutter speeds and apertures to find what works best for each image.

Hi, I'm Kim, a mom and a stop-motion enthusiast with a background in media creation and web development. I've got a huge passion for drawing and animation, and now I'm diving headfirst into the stop-motion world. With my blog, I'm sharing my learnings with you guys.