What Is Shutter Priority Mode?

Shutter Priority Mode is a DSLR camera shooting mode that allows the user to choose a specific shutter speed. Shutter Priority Mode is represented by either an “S” or the letters “TV” on the mode dial on the top of your DSLR camera.

In Shutter Priority Mode you have control over the shutter speed, and the camera will set the appropriate aperture for you to ensure correct exposure. This is a good way to start experimenting with shutter speeds.

The photographer choose the shutter speed that you wish to shoot at and let the camera make a decision about what aperture to select to give a well exposed shot.

Shutter Priority Mode Explained, Selecting a Shutter Speed

When the camera is in the shutter priority mode, turning the command dial selects a shutter speed. As the command dial is being turned, a shutter speed value appears on the monitor and the corresponding aperture also appears so that you can determine if the aperture and shutter speed combination is an appropriate one.


Shutter speed, also known as “exposure time”, stands for the length of time a camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera sensor. If the shutter speed is fast, it can help to freeze action completely. If the shutter speed is slow, it can create an effect called “motion blur”, where moving objects appear blurred along the direction of the motion.

The command dial can be turned clockwise for slower shutter speed and counter-clockwise for faster shutter speed. If the displayed shutter speed does not change while the command dial is being turned, this means you have already reached the fastest or slowest shutter speed.

When would you use Shutter Priority Mode?

This mode is intended to be used when motion needs to be frozen or intentionally blurred. In Shutter priority mode, the shutter speed stays the same (what you set it to), while aperture automatically increases and decreases, based on the amount of light and you are letting the camera control the depth of field.

The main purpose of using the shutter priority mode is to have a faster shutter speed to freeze the action of fast-moving subjects or to have a slower shutter speed to blur moving subjects in order to create a sense of motion.