The shutter is a gateway that lets the light go into the sensor to take a photo; after that, it closes very sharply to stop the exposure.  Different cameras have different types of shutters designed according to their function. A shutter is a complex combination of simple machines that work together differently; it depends on either a DSLR, mirrorless, video, or motion picture camera. First of all, have a look at the DSLR’s shutter, how that works.  Before all, you should understand shutter speed, and it would give you deep insights into how a camera shutter works and its mechanism.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is one of the most basic and crucial settings in photography. The measurement of time in which the shutter stays open is called the shutter’s speed.

In the above picture, you can imagine how does shutter speed affects the image quality. If you use a high shutter speed, such as 1/500th of a second, the image quality will be fine. In contrast, the low shutter speed produces motion blur, like 1/4th of a second.

The long shutter speed is used in moving objects like bikes, cars, and flying birds to create a blurry effect in the direction of motion.

shutter speed

On the other hand, low shutter speeds are effective in shooting the milky way.

To measure the shutter speed, we use small units of time like mili; for instance, 1/5oo means five-Hundredth of a second or 500 milliseconds.

Now, we see how a shutter works in both the DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

How Does DSLR Camera Shutter Work

A DSLR is a device composed of a mirror and a prism. This composition helps you to see the subject entered through the lens. A camera mirror is placed after the lens directly; therefore, light can not strike the shutter. A DSLR camera mirror goes up when you press the shutter button to open it and make an exposure.

After pressing the shutter button, you can hear the hitting sound of a mirror going up. A mirror does not reflect light behind the lens, reflecting the viewfinder to produce a black screen.

dslr camera shutter

During this, the shutter’s curtain down to expose the sensor, and when exposure completes, the second curtain covers the sensor. The duration between both the curtains when they go down depends on the shutter speed. If we adjust the shutter’s speed to high, they will remain open for a longer time and vice versa. 

How Does A Mirrorless Camera Shutter Works

These cameras have no mirror inside them as DSLR do; therefore, these are called mirrorless. An image data is transmitted through the sensor to an electronic screen in the viewfinder that helps you see your subject. The shutter in the mirrorless cameras has screens, but it proceeds differently.

mirrorless camera shutter

The sensor is not covered behind the lens in the mirrorless cameras because the mirror is absent. But, a shutter’s door goes up and covers the detector at once. Afterward, it goes down to make an exposure, and the other door goes down from the frame. 

After understanding the working of a shutter in two different types of cameras, we concluded that the working principle of a shutter is almost the same. Now we see the working of different shutters and their mechanism.

There are two types of camera shutters, an electronic shutter, and a mechanical shutter.

How Does An Electronic Camera Shutter Work

electronic camera shutter

The electronic camera shutters have no physical moving parts; they just on/off the sensor to allow the light into the sensor. Therefore, these shutters are cheap.

How Does A Mechanical Shutter Works

The mechanical shutter has two curtains, the front and rear curtain. The mechanical shutter is located in front of the sensor. These curtains are open and close to produce exposure.

How Does A Leaf Shutter Works

The leaf shutter is usually present in the lens’s body, and it consists of identical blades or leaves open and closes outwards and inwards, respectively. A photographer can adjust the period between the opening and closing of the shutter.

Leaf shutter

Leaf shutters are faster than the other shutter’s mechanism. Therefore, you can use them to produce high sync flash having 1/1000th of a second.

How Does A Focal Plane Shutter Works

The Focal Plane Shutter is situated in front of the image plane. This shutter is made of two blinds overlapping to form a window. A focal-plane shutter can operate mechanically by spring or electronically. A photographer presses the shutter button as one of the two curtains moves horizontally in either right or left direction to expose the film. The second curtain takes the first to cover the movie; this time depends upon shutter speed. If shutter speed will high, the period will be low and vice versa. The exposure time can be as shorter as 1/12000th of a second.

A focal-plane shutter can be operated in two ways, mechanically and electronically. The mechanical shutter is used in most digital cameras, but the electronic shutter is used in small and cell phone cameras. Some digital cameras have both mechanical and electronic shutters. However, cameras having a mechanical shutter give better image results than electronic shutters because the mechanical shutter optimizes the sensor’s capacity to collect and gather the image.

How Does A Shutter Work While shooting Videos

If you are using a mirrorless camera or DSLR  while shooting a video, your camera’s shutter goes up until you finish it. A camera can shoot limited frames per second, which is not viable while shooting a video. The camera sensor employs a shutter when you are shooting video and scanning the light electronically.


Q: At What shutter speed can I get sharp images?

 According to the thumb rule, your shutter speed should 1/Focal Length; in other words, if you use a lens of 500mm focal length, you should set the shutter speed to 1/500th of a second or faster.

Q: What happens when the camera's shutter opens?

 When you hit the shutter button, it opens and exposes the sensor to admit light reached into the sensor. The shutter closes immediately after open; the length of time depends on the shutter speed.

Q: Which shutter gives us a sharp image?

A  focal-plane shutter would be merely better because it is faster than others. Additionally, mechanical control makes it better to control light.

Q: In how many directions do the focal plane shutter can move?

New cameras with focal-plane shutters can move left to right or right to left.