Q: I have recently become interested in photography. I want to find a camera with fast shutter speed. I need something fairly simple, but I am not afraid to read the instruction manual. I have a price range of $600 or less. Any ideas? ---W.M.
A: Finding a camera with fast shutter speed is actually fairly easy ... it's making that camera actually shoot at the fast shutter speed that can be difficult.
Most consumer-level digital cameras can shoot at shutter speeds up to 1/1000th or 1/2000th of a second. Just look in the specifications listing for the camera to find its shutter speed range.
However, the bigger problem is making the camera shoot at its fastest shutter speed.
With most point and shoot cameras, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed, based on the shooting conditions. You can "help" the camera select a fast shutter speed by selecting "shutter priority" in your camera's AE setting.
Or you can set your camera's scene mode to "sports" to force the camera to use a fast shutter speed.
Finally, you might be able to overcome some missed photos because of shutter speed problems by selecting your camera's continuous shot mode, which tells the camera to shoot several photos in a row in a short amount of time.
A small number of point and shoot cameras allow you to manually set the shutter speed, but with advanced DSLR cameras, you nearly always can manually control settings, such as shutter speed. However, DSLR cameras are aimed at more advanced users and are far more expensive than point and shoot cameras. With a budget around $600, you may be able to afford a low-end DSLR camera, but it will require some time studying the user manual to learn to use it correctly.
Find more answers to common camera questions on the camera FAQ page.