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Shutter Speed for Moving Train Photos

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Shutter Speed for Moving Train Photos

If you’re new to railway photography, then this article will hopefully help you out.

To capture your dream train photo, you need to know the correct shutter speed. This is very important. If you set the wrong shutter speed, then your photo will either be blurry or too dark.

What is Shutter Speed?

Shutter speed is how fast your camera can take a photo on the camera.

The shutter speed is a responsible service for the following two particular items.

The larger the number is, such as 1/1000, the faster the shutter moves. The smaller the number, such as 1/100 the shutter remains open longer because the setting is moving slower.

1. Changing the light/brightness on your photograph.

2. Helps to create dramatic effects by either freezing action or blurring the motion.

The following settings are what I tend to use for my own train photos.

Shutter Speed for fast train on mainline

For a normal/fast moving train I would suggest that you set your camera shutter speed at a minimum of 1/1000. Anything up to 1/2000 is fine.

The shutter speed used on this photo was 1/1000. If it was going faster, I would have increased it a bit.

Photo Details:

37059+37218 tnt 68004 are seen at Totnes working the 1Z81 1607 Penzance to Tame Bridge Parkway ‘The Mazey Day Cornishman’ on the 29th June 2019.

If you use a small shutter speed like 1/200 for a fast moving train, then the photo would be out of focus.

Shutter Speed for slow train on mainline or heritage railways

The shutter speed for a slower train on the mainline or heritage railways is shorter. I usually use between 1/250 to 1/400.

This photo shows a slow steam train on a Heritage Railway. The shutter speed I used for this photograph was 1/320.

Photo Details:

(GWR) Small Prairie 4500 Class 2-6-2T No. 4555 is seen at Hood Bridge working the 10.30 Buckfastleigh to Totnes Riverside on the 14th March 2020 during the ‘Spring Steam Gala’ on the South Devon Railway

The shutter speed is just one part of the settings used for railway photos. If you want to learn about the other camera settings that I use, please take a read of How to Photograph Steam Trains.


I hope that you learned a bit about the shutter speeds for moving train photos. If you are happy with whatever shutter speed you use, then that is fine.

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