I was wondering if anyone has a rule of thumb for shutter speed when shooting fast moving cloud? If you want to freeze it, that is. (I appreciate it depends how strong the wind is blowing.)

I've recently started using a telephoto lens (typically 50-80mm APS-C, camera is a Fuji X-T4) after working at wide angle for a long time, so have been experimenting with zooming in on interesting clouds.

Yesterday, I shot a cloudy coastal sunset where the focal point was the sun was breaking through on the far horizon, and I was mostly using 1/500, which I normally use for birds, and F8. I was quite pleased with that.

Today, for a few test shots, as there weren't any birds in the shot, I rather forgot about this and was probably too focused on the histogram - so I was using 1/125 to 1/160 and I didn't appreciate from the viewfinder that they weren't really sharp enough.

If there is any good advice available on photographing clouds in general I'd be interested.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It depends on the focal length of course. A "fast-moving" cloud viewed through a telescope moves (crosses the frame) a LOT faster than when viewed through a wide angle lens on a DSLR. And then there's movement of the camera. You can't hand-hold a telescope or zoom lens with a normal shutter speed and get clear pictures. You can hand-hold a wide angle lens at anything but a very slow shutter speed. \$\endgroup\$
    – user8356
    Feb 3, 2022 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


Based on this calculator (bottom of the page), 80mm focal length, 2000m camera to clouds distance, 150km/h speed of the clouds you need shutter speed of 1/125s.

So you need to search for other reason for nonsharp photos. Maybe your focus was not precise, clouds can be very fluffy and may not offer you enough sharp edges for focusing.

  • \$\begingroup\$ At what display size? Thinks that look sharp at standard display size (8x10 viewed from 12 inches) can look like mush pixel peeping at 100%. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 31, 2022 at 10:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelC, AFAIK these calculations define the speed for avoid motion blur and it is by default on normal distance (to observe the photo). Every photo look pixelized on 100% \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2022 at 10:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but things that look sharp at 8x10 can also look blurry at 16x20 or some other more reasonable display size. The same circle of confusion that applies to depth of field also applies to motion blur. The larger the display size, the smaller the blur can be on the sensor (or film) and still look sharp. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 1, 2022 at 0:06

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