I took a photo in a darkish room. It was in the middle of a cloudy day, but curtains were over the windows, so inside the room it was dark, yet you could see everything.

enter image description here

I set aperture priority mode and set to F/2. My ISO was on Auto and jumped to 3200. So far so good. But my camera choose to use 0.1s for shutter speed, which I considered too long — I didn't want to have any motion blur.

What could I do differently — assuming I want a faster shutter?

  • 1
    Nice pic, by the way Nov 24 '15 at 23:44
  • Do you shoot RAW? Post processing should b e able to handle a minimum of 2 stops - on some cameras up to 5 stops. You also seem to have exposed for an average instead of manually to dark/lighted places. This never really works in this scenario with a STRONG highlight in the center that will blow out anyway.
    – TomTom
    Nov 25 '15 at 10:31
  • Possible daft suggestion - If your main problem is motion blur- maybe use a decent solid tripod? it should eliminate camera shake - dont forget to turn off any vibration reduction features - have a look through this post - kenrockwell.com/tech/image-stabilization.htm Nov 25 '15 at 23:35

Hopefully you are aware of the relationship between the three main controls that affect exposure: Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO.

In this case you've set an aperture of F/2. You have left the decision of shutter speed and ISO to the camera (by selecting Aperture Priority mode, and having Auto ISO on).

It's a low light scene, so the camera doesn't have much choice but to boost ISO to an "extra high" value of ISO 3200, and shutter speed to an "extra slow" value of 1/10s.

If you want faster shutter speed you have to do one of the following.

  • Increase light. Use flash or other lighting, let more natural light in, shoot when the weather is sunny outside, etc.

  • Increase ISO. At ISO 3200 you're already going to suffer grain/noise but you may accept that boosting this further is an acceptable trade-off to getting a faster shutter speed.

    To do this you could leave it in Aperture Priority and go into the menus where you tell the camera how far to boost ISO when using Auto ISO, or you could set the ISO manually to a higher value.

  • Increase aperture. This may not be possible for your lens, and in a shot like this your depth of field is already going to be less than you'd probably like.

  • Well, there also is always the question whether ISO 3200 is "good enough". I have successfully (Sony A7RII) shot pictures with an ISO around 12000 (2 stops higher) which would take the time down to 0.4 seconds. Yes, there is some noise, but DXO noise removal + B&W photo make some pretty low noise result out of that. On top you can shot underexposed and do a lot in post processing. At the end it is a question about compromises - but the current setup can be optimized quite a lot.
    – TomTom
    Nov 25 '15 at 10:30

I agree with @thomasrutter, but if you're willing to do some up-front planning and some work after-the-fact, or try some other things there may be some other options. It will of course depend on the shot you're trying to get. These ideas probably aren't ideal for candids.

Photograph the room without the people in it, then have them come back and photograph it again with settings/lighting that makes the people look how you want. If you use a tripod and don't move the camera between shots, you can layer the two photos in your favorite editing app and paint the people into the room (so long as your careful to also get their shadows, reflections, etc.). You can even do a long exposure for the room and a shorter exposure for the people. You'll want to make the exposure of the people match the exposure of the empty room photo so it doesn't look weird, of course. But that can be handled fairly easily by the exposure control in your editing app. (You may also need to match the grain depending on how different the people end up from the clean room shot.)

Another option is to photograph the room, and photograph the people separately against a blue or green screen. You can then use compositing software to remove the blue/green screen and put the people into the room. As above you'll need to be careful with shadows/reflections and you'll need to match lighting, exposure, and possibly grain.

And don't be afraid to pose people. If you require a longer shutter to get the shot, have the people stand very still in the pose you like. It's not always appropriate, but it can work in a pinch.


Go to the settings and find the place where you determine if your ISO could go up automatically or not (and to which extent). In that place you should also have the possibility to set the slowest acceptable shutter speed. I tend to keep it at 1/60s for handheld shooting. Maybe this is where you had the value of 1/10s and your camera just acted accordingly.

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