What Does the S on My Camera Mean?

In a previous post I explained that the letter P stands for Program (adjustable automatic) on your advanced camera's exposure dial. One of the other letters on the dial is "S," which stands for "Shutter Priority" exposure mode. Canon cameras have "Tv" instead, which stands for "Time Value." It means  the same thing as "S."

1/1,600 second, f/4, ISO 200

Shutter Priority exposure mode is a good choice when you want to control how moving subjects appear in your photos. Shutter Priority lets you select a fast shutter speed to stop movement or a slow shutter speed to blur movement. Changing the shutter speed with which you record motion can completely change the appearance of your subject. Since the camera is selecting the aperture to adjust the exposure, you don't have control over the f-stop.

2.5 seconds, f/11, ISO 100

You can also adjust the ISO (sensitivity) setting in Shutter Priority exposure mode. Often you set a low ISO number when you want to blur motion. And you may need to use a higher ISO setting when you are trying to stop motion, especially indoors or when the light is dim. Or you can set the ISO to Auto on some models and let the camera decide.

You can use flash with Shutter Priority exposure, but it won't come on automatically. And turning on the flash may change the shutter speed you selected so the flash works with the other exposure settings.

Learn about Shutter Priority mode and other camera controls in my one-day Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera class on June 9, 2018, in Missoula, Montana. Click here to register online.