When it comes to capturing video on an HDSLR, a key concept some photographers tend to have trouble understanding often pertains to shutter speeds. Coming from a world where they can use almost any conceivable shutter speed to create a photograph, photographers tend to take that same mindset into creating their videos and are often disappointed with the results. For example, shooting with too fast of a shutter speed can lead to footage that feels more erratic, while using too slow of one can create effects that feel too unrealistic.
As a general rule, if you’re going to be capturing footage on a DSLR at 24 frames per second, setting your shutter speed to 1/50th of a second will create the most aesthetically pleasing result. However, this will change depending upon the frame rate you’re using and can easily be determined by simply using the shutter speed that is closest to two times the frame rate. For example, capturing footage at 60 frames per second will require a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second to maintain the most aesthetic quality.
Ultimately, picking the right shutter speed really depends on the content that is being captured. Action and fast moving objects tend to be more compelling when captured at faster shutter speeds, while scenes involving normal movement and dialogue tend to be more compelling at slower ones. However, the look and feel of your footage should always fit in with the overall look and feel of the film.
Personally, I like approaching projects with a plan of when I will be using faster shutter speeds as a creative tool. For basic interviews using a tripod and all-purpose footage using a slider or a monopod, I tend to stay at 1/50th of a second and use neutral density filters to control my exposure. However, if any action or motion will be involved, I will often bump up my shutter speed to help give the footage the lift it needs to convey a particular mood or feeling through the footage.
Learning what shutter speed to use and when to use it takes a little practice, so make sure you take some time getting a feel for what specific shutter speeds feel like to you. Check out the video below to get an idea of what different shutter speeds will do a single piece of footage.