What is Shutter Priority?

Shutter priority mode allows you to choose (set) the shutter speed; contrast to automatic mode, the camera chooses the shutter speed. When you photograph the subject, the shutter speed will be fixed while the camera calculates the aperture size and ISO for standard exposure. You can set the ISO as well.

How To User Shutter Priority Mode

Shutter priority is usually abbreviated with an S on the camera mode dial. Canon cameras abbreviate it with Tv.

canon 6d camera dial set to shutter priority

Canon mode dial set to shutter priority (Tv).

To use shutter priority:

  1. Set the mode dial to shutter priority.
  2. Use the main dial to select the desired aperture size.
  3. Set the ISO if required.
  4. Take the photo.

It is best to refer to the camera’s manual.

When To Use Shutter Priority Mode

There aren’t many needs to use shutter priority. For example, when you want a smooth and blurry waterfall you can use shutter priority to slow the shutter speed. But what depth of field do you want for the rest of the image? It’s better to choose the aperture size and shutter speed with manual mode. Same goes for moving objects such as cars. Do you want the car to be slightly blurry or sharp? Choose a slow or fast shutter speed, respectively. But what depth of field do you want? Again, use manual mode.

The below photo was taken using shutter priority mode. It was sundown and I took a photo of a SUV. The SUV appears to be idle but was traveling approximately 40 km/h (25 mph). I set the shutter speed to 1/1000 secs and ISO to 2000. The camera calibrated the aperture to f/4.0 for stand exposure. If I took this photo with automatic mode, then the shutter speed would have been slower and the SUV blurred.

Shutter priority at 1/1000: 24 mm, f/4.0, ISO 2000

Shutter priority at 1/1000: 24 mm, f/4.0, ISO 2000