Aperture Priority Vs. Shutter Priority Mode. When and why to use them!

Aperture vs. Shutter – The easy way!


  1. Aperture Priority Mode (Av or A Mode). 

Example of a Shallow Depth of Field (DOF)

Shallow Depth of Field – Aperture – f2.8

When in aperture Priority mode, the user has the ability to choose and set the aperture the camera uses, and the camera will then adjust the shutter speed so that a correct exposure can be made.

So the first thing you should know about Av or A mode, is that it has an impact on the Depth of Field (DOF) of your image. It is measured or displayed on your camera in f-numbers. Now this here is the confusing part, the lower the f-number (F2.8 for example) , the wider the aperture is, hence the more “blur” you get in your image, which is referred to as a “shallow depth of field”. Whereas a higher f-number (F16 for example) will have a narrower aperture opening, and have considerably less background “blur” in your image, which is then referred to as a “wide depth of field”.

Okay, so when do we use Aperture Priority (Av or A mode) when shooting?

Essentially you will use this mode when you want to be in control of how much “blur” you want in your background and you are not that concerned with capturing fast motion with high shutter speeds. This is especially a great mode to use when shooting portraits to get that amazing “blur” and to let your subject “pop”.



You can clearly see more “blur” in the first image at a Wider (Lower f-number) aperture than in the Narrower (Higher f-number) aperture.

Now that you know the basics, I must add that you always need to keep in mind that how lower you go in f-number (wider aperture) the camera will choose faster shutter speeds, and the higher f-number (narrower aperture) the camera will choose slower shutter speeds to compensate for the little amount of light that can enter through the narrow aperture opening.

2. Shutter Priority Mode (Tv or S Mode).

Walking subject - 1/320 Shutter speed.

Walking subject – 1/320 Shutter speed.

Now this is opposite of the Av mode, when in Shutter Priority(Tv or S mode) the user can set the camera’s shutter speed, and the camera will then adjust the Aperture to create a correct exposure.

What we should know about shutter speeds, is that it controls motion, a higher or faster shutter speed can capture faster moving objects, where a slow shutter speed will cause motion blur in the image. If you use a slow shutter speed you should always use a tripod to avoid that any camera shake causes some motion blur in your image, you also need your subject to be still. I tend not to go below 1/160 shutter speed when photographing moving subjects, or any hand-held shots. In sport photography you need a shutter of at least 1/500 but I recommend to go even faster if possible. Another thing about shutter, it can be directly related to lens focal lengths as well, a general rule of thumb with this is to always keep your shutter speed equal to or larger than your focal length to avoid camera shake. This is especially true when you reach focal lengths of 150mm and more.

When do we use Shutter Priority mode?

In any situation where you need to control the motion in your image you should opt for Shutter Priority mode. Situations like sport photography or any fast-moving objects is best to use Shutter mode. A few other examples might include some portrait shots, let’s say maybe someone dancing, doing gymnastics, etc. The other side is when you want to slow down motion, and get a soft milky look, something that works in landscapes with water or clouds and some night shots like star trails. These are just some basic examples and I will get into more finer details on some of the subjects that I have more knowledge on.


This is an edited image just for visual preview to see effects of shutter speeds.

Again remember the relationship between Shutter and Aperture, if you have a fast shutter speed your camera will go for a wide aperture which gives more “blur” in your image, and vice versa.

So for this post, I shared some basics, which gives you the freedom to go and search for more info on the subjects, or leave me a question in the comments and I will answer and help where I can.

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