I am wondering if a DSLR can show what the shutter speed it will use prior to shooting. I was doing some shooting in a library this morning and was using aperture priority. My daughter was running around and i wanted to make sure the image would be crisp so i wanted to dial in the ISO such that the shutter speed would be fast enough to freeze my daughter's limbs.

I was searching all over the camera and couldn't find a reading for shutter speed anywhere. Also, the manual was no help in this case.

Shouldn't the camera be able to tell the fastest speed to get a good exposure knowing the aperture and ISO I already set up, shouldn't it?

  • 5
    If you're concerned about freezing her motion, shuttery priority is a much better setting.
    – rfusca
    Jan 12 '11 at 20:30
  • @rfusca, I agree but i am more concerned with playing with DOF and bokeh. If the shutter is not fast enough i would up the ISO to force a faster shutter time.
    – kacalapy
    Jan 12 '11 at 20:52
  • 1
    Another option is to go into manual, but turn on auto-ISO; this lets you control both motion blur and depth of field, but still lets the camera pick exposure.
    – Evan Krall
    Jun 11 '11 at 7:41

Depends on the camera, but most DSLRs that I've used indicate the metering information (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) using visible numbers that appear inside the viewfinder. When you half-press the shutter, the camera meters the scene and indicates the settings it will use.

  • 2
    This is how his D7000 works as well.
    – rfusca
    Jan 12 '11 at 20:29
  • My 450D does it like that.
    – Hondalex
    Jan 12 '11 at 20:40
  • Yes, It does in the view finder and the top display as well. Thanks, but what does 25o equate to in seconds or fractions of a second?
    – kacalapy
    Jan 12 '11 at 20:59
  • 2
    @kacalapy: whole numbers always refer to their reciprocal, so 250 means 1/250th second.
    – Joey
    Jan 12 '11 at 21:02
  • Unless there's a double quote after the number, like 5". This would indicate a 5-second exposure.
    – Evan Krall
    Jan 14 '11 at 21:19

Shouldn't the camera be able to tell the fastest speed to get a good exposure knowing the aperture and ISO I already set up, shouldn't it?

That is precisely the point of Aperture Priority. You set the Aperture (and ISO) and the camera determines the correct Shutter Speed. Vice-versa for Shutter Priority.

As ahockley says, most DSLRs will display the shutter speed alongside the aperture setting, if not on the LCD then in the viewfinder.

The other point is that if you know you want to 'freeze the action', shutter priority is probably a better mode to be in anyway.


What you are trying to do is enforce a certain aperture and shutter speed while setting ISO to match them. Instead of doing it the last bit by hand, I'd suggest to use manual mode with Auto ISO, or TAv mode, if your camera has it.


Any DSLR will show aperture and speed in the viewfinder and on the top LCD (if present)

Assuming you are using the Nikon D7000 referred to in some of your other questions, have you tried using the "scene" selection on the mode dial and choosing "child" or "sport" modes?

Scene modes can be a useful starting point on a complex DSLR, you can review each of the setting changes that the camera makes for the selected mode - perhaps storing your preference in the U1 or U2 positions on the mode dial and making adjustments to taste.


Information while shooting

Usually the aperture value, shutter speed, and ISO will be displayed in the viewfinder as you are shooting.

Information after shooting

After shooting, there are several ways to find out what settings were used. when you are looking at the camera LCD, all of the same info will be displayed.

Otherwise, after you have transferred the image to a computer, you can view the EXIF data, which is where all the metadata is stored. This usually includes the camera/lens type, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc.

Most image programs can read the exif data, but there are also some others that are made specifically to read the EXIF data including online apps.


All that said, the issue at hand is better solved by using shutter priority or manual, since stopping action is the goal.


First, the camera should definitely tell you the speed when it determines the correct exposure. Second, given an aperture and ISO, there is only one speed for correct exposure (whatever that may be - but set in the camera - normally middle gray in the metered area).

  • If dynamic range of a scene is larger than the camera can capture, there are several speeds for correct exposure; one speed for desired exposure. In case of a smaller dynamic range than camera can capture, there are also several speeds to achieve correct exposure (not always ETTR). And camera shows comparison with measured exposure, which may not even be correct depending on metering mode and lighting.
    – Imre
    Jun 10 '11 at 5:34
  • @Imre - you are assuming the scene has a uniformly distributed brightness (a flat histogram). This is rarely the case. It is usually some sort of bell-shape distribution. Given that, there is only one speed that gets you the 18% picture. ETTR is actually a bad example as it means intentionally overexposure. Now, give me my rep back ;-)
    – ysap
    Jun 10 '11 at 12:37
  • I see, your definition of correct is stricter than mine. Fair enough, here's your rep back :) There are exceptions where many speeds give exactly the same exposure such as scenes lit only by flash, or light paintings in dark; but that is not the case described in question.
    – Imre
    Jun 11 '11 at 6:18
  • @Imre - yes, you are right that there are special cases. I'd risk to say that these comprise <1% of an average photo collection. But even then, the camera uses whatever available information to resolve just one shutter speed. For example, with Canon 7D on Av mode and flash, the default is that the camera exposes for the background - to get standard 18% background image, and the flash is considered a fill flash.
    – ysap
    Jun 11 '11 at 11:34

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