I'm fairly new to photography, and I own a Canon Rebel T6i. Besides manual mode I've learned about Tv and Av modes, which to be honest I really liked, mainly when I'm shooting on events with changing lighting conditions and I'm find myself too slow to change the settings for every shot. I like the idea of the Av mode very much for event photography, however the last time that I tried I had a huge problem, the shutter speed was too slow (I was using a 24mm f2.8 pancake lens) so when I got home I find out that most pictures were taken at 1/25 sec, even some at 1/60 were blurry, given that I don't have super steady hands and people were moving.

After some research I found out that some cameras allow you to set a minimum shutter speed when in Av mode. However my camera doesn't seem to have that option. I would like to set the minimum shutter speed to at least 1/125 (1/200, would be the best for me right now), but I can't. So I often find myself shooting events at Tv with a shutter speed of 1/125 or 1/200, but the results aren't ideal since I can't control the aperture.

What I've tried lately to try to compensate for the lack of a minimum shutter speed in Av mode is to set the camera to manual with ISO on auto. This way I can set the minimum shutter speed (but I'm stuck to it, if the lighting conditions improve I could be taking pictures at a higher shutter speed) and I have the control of the aperture, leaving the ISO to balance the exposure. Far from ideal, I would guess, however is there a better way to achieving this with my Rebel T6i?

I know I could just be using full manual, but as a beginner it can get pretty awkward to have people in events posing and waiting for the to find the best exposure in full manual. Is there a better way to do this or should I just embrace full manual.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What about shooting in Tv mode in combination with Auto ISO, and just keeping an eye on the working ISO and aperture settings? If you find lighting conditions improve, you can easily switch to a faster shutter speed if desired. As an aside, there's absolutely nothing wrong with shooting in Av or Tv mode. That's what they're there for. I don't get the obsession with Manual mode. It doesn't make anyone a better photographer, solely because they use Manual mode. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Dec 19, 2018 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi @osullic. The problem with that approach I've found, is that I have zero control over the aperture, which I would have by using manual with Auto ISO. And I am very much inclined to agree with you. I'm a newbie, but several photographers with much more experience than me have told me that Av and Tv are really useful and I should learn more about then, which is what I've been trying to do. \$\endgroup\$
    – adamasan
    Dec 19, 2018 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ i've always shot in manual, from day 1. While i felt over-worked dialing as i shot events early-on, eventually it became 2nd nature, like stick shift on a car. You won't learn nearly as much about light nearly as quickly if you outsource your creativity to a computer. It sucks at first, but then it doesn't and your images rock. \$\endgroup\$
    – dandavis
    Dec 19, 2018 at 19:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ To follow @osullic - if you are in an environment where, when using Av, you're getting way too slow shutter speeds...then it stands to reason that if you used Tv, your aperture would be maxed open (which it probably was in Av mode). If that's the case, then the suggestion would still work perfectly. Less so if you weren't wide open...but then again, if you had that much light, you wouldn't need lengthy shutter speeds. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Dec 19, 2018 at 22:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @xiota This is actually my first camera, I wasn't aware that no Canon camera has a minimum shutter speed on Av. Was thinking I my doesn't have this options because it's an entry level one... \$\endgroup\$
    – adamasan
    Dec 20, 2018 at 12:48

2 Answers 2


With Flash

If you're using TTL flash with Av mode all Canon EOS cameras, including your Rebel T6i/750D, will allow you to set the shutter time to either: 30" ←→ 1/x-sync (Auto), 1/60 ←→ 1/x-sync (Auto), or 1/x-sync (fixed) where 'x-sync' is the denominator of your camera's flash sync speed. In the case of the EOS Rebel T6i/750D, the flash sync speed is 1/200. How to select the above options is covered on page 174 of the EOS Rebel T6i/750D Instruction Manual.

Most Canon cameras above the entry level Rebel/xx0D and Rebel/xx00D line include a capability called 'Safety Shift' that may, depending on the model, allow you to choose any selectable Tv as a minimum Tv when using 'P' (Program AE) or 'Av' (Aperture Priority AE) modes. This answer discusses how to combine Safety Shift and TTL flash in low light, but some of it can also be used with a camera that does not offer Safety Shift.

  • Set the aperture as wide as is available that you can live with in terms of depth of field.
  • Set the flash to E-TTL and dial in between -1 and -2 stops flash exposure compensation. Take a few sample shots and dial it in based on the results. Be sure to match the camera's LCD brightness to the ambient lighting. Double check exposure using the histogram.
  • Make sure the menu option for shutter speed with flash in Av mode (for your EOS Rebel T6i/750D it is at: [Shooting (Red) Menu Tab 1] → [Flash Control] → [Flash sync speed in Av mode]) is set to '1/200-1/60sec. auto'. Essentially, this will manually set your Tv to 1/60 second for most of your shots using Av exposure mode in dim light. When you are pointed at a "hot spot", or the lighting overall is brighter, the camera will reduce the shutter time to as short as 1/200 second (your camera's flash sync speed). You can also select '1/200 sec. (fixed)' if you want to lock the shutter speed at the flash sync speed. Any automatic variation in exposure of ambient light would then require 'Auto ISO'.
  • Set the ISO to whatever you need to allow the ambient light to show the background a stop or two underexposed. With the Rebel T6i/750D and other EOS xx0D/xx00D models, if you are in M exposure mode, you can not enter an (ambient light) main 'Exposure Compensation' value for affecting 'Auto ISO'.² You can still enter a 'Flash Exposure Compensation' value for affecting the E-TTL computed flash output.
  • If the lighting is mostly tungsten (warm), then consider gelling your flash with orange to match the output of the flash to the color of the ambient lighting. If the primary lighting is fluorescent, then use a greenish gel. For other types of light sources, use an appropriate color to match your flash to the predominate ambient light.

Without Flash

On the other hand, if you're shooting in 'P' (Program) exposure mode with or without flash, the default setting for all Canon EOS cameras is a shutter time no longer (slower) than 1/60. With a dedicated flash¹ active, the shortest shutter time allowed will be the flash sync speed. If no flash is detected by the camera, the shortest shutter allowed with be the camera's minimum (shortest) shutter speed - 1/4000 in your case. With 'P' mode in dim light the camera will tend to use 1/60, raise ISO up to ISO 400 (if 'Auto ISO' is selected), open up the aperture all of the way, then raise the ISO even further if you have ISO set to 'Auto'. You can set both main 'Exposure Compensation' that will affect the exposure of the ambient light using 'Auto ISO' (if you're already at 1/60 and the lens' maximum Av) and 'Flash Exposure Compensation' that will affect the calculated E-TTL flash output power in P exposure mode.

When in not ideal lighting conditions I usually target 3200 at most.

ISO 3200 is still pretty dark with an f/2.8 lens in dark environments. Sometimes you just have to kick the ISO up and live with the noise to get any kind of usable shot. If you are getting 1/25 at ISO 3200 and f/2.8, even an f/2 lens would only get you to 1/50. You'd have to shoot at f/1.4 to get 1/100 at ISO 3200 which, in such dim light, would probably mean your AF would not be accurate enough for the razor thin DoF.

When I'm shooting in such environments without flash, I tend to set all exposure parameters manually for what is needed when the varying lights are at or near their brightest. I then compose the scene and "sit on it", sometimes with the shutter half-pressed or the 'AF-ON' button pressed, until the lights match the exposure I have set and then take the picture. It takes a lot of patience, as the moment when you'd like to time your subjects may not coincide with when the lights are where you need them.

The other option is to add light of your own, preferably from off the lens' axis. If your environment allows it, bounce the flash. If bouncing is not an option, even an off-shoe cord and a flash bracket (or holding the flash wide with your left hand) will give better results than mounting the flash directly to the camera's hot shoe. A wireless trigger and a remote flash is even better.

For more about how I approach shooting with or without flash in the kinds of lighting you seem to be talking about, please see this answer to Nightclubs photography, setup to capture the real mood and atmosphere?

Please also see:
How can I take photos during a school dance?
First time - Night Club Photography - what gear do I need?
What should my plan be for photographing in a nightclub setting?

For an even more general question about shooting clubs, bands, concerts, theater, etc. with a lot of links to other existing related questions here at Photography.SE, please see: Best ways of photographing at a concert/festival

You might also find Blown out blue/red light making photos look out of focus helpful. It talks about how exposing to not blow out the dominant color channel and how vital post processing the raw data is for images shot under poor lighting such as that often found in clubs.

¹ 'Dedicated' flash would be any flash that the camera can detect is active, whether it is set to E-TTL or Manual flash power. In general, this would be any flash, Canon or third party, that has a full set of contact pins in the Canon pattern on the hot foot. Some manual only flashes with only a center pin will not be detected by the camera, even though they will receive the signal to "fire" when the shutter is opened.
² Many higher tier Canon EOS bodies do allow setting exposure compensation in M exposure mode to affect 'Auto ISO'.


There are a couple of things that I think that you can do:

Learn your lowest shutter speed: At 24mm, I would have expected you to be able to hand hold 1/25 and especially 1/60. Now, that might be too low and your subject might move, causing motion blur, but you shouldn't be getting camera shake at those speeds at that focal length. You should practice steadiness and proper grip on the camera.

Pay Attention and Adjust on the Fly: Just because you're using Av doesn't mean you can treat your camera like a point and shoot. The shutter speed that the camera will use is displayed in the viewfinder. You should be glancing at this at minimum every time the lighting changes to ensure shutter speeds that you can handle.

A quick and dirty way to change things is to underexpose the shot. If you notice that the shutter wants to be 1/25 and you know you can't hold anything less than 1/50 then it's a quick adjustment to knock the exposure compensation to -1, which will let the camera know to go to 1/50. Yes, you'll have to clean this up in post, but, if timing is of the essence and you're already at your minimum Av...

Conversely, if you're not at your minimum Av but have selected a favorite for sharpness or DoF, then ask yourself if you can open up a stop for this one shot.

Add Light: If you are in a situation where you are wide open, at your max ISO, and the shutter speeds are stills too slow, then you have to add light. Start learning about flash.


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