Preventing motion blur, Auto ISO, and other thoughts

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Preventing motion blur, Auto ISO, and other thoughts
8 months ago

I look at my friends and relatives' pictures, and the most common (technical) problem I find is motion blur, even though most of them are using these days cameras that have some sort of image stabilization. To my surprise, I realize that is also the most common reason my photos are not keepers, specially when I take casual photos of people in family gatherings, where the lighting conditions are not too bright (I am determined to never use the flash). The next most usual problem is autofocus: usually photos where the focus is on the background, instead of on the subject. But that's another whole story I won't deal with now.

When I take casual photos, I rely heavily on auto everything, like most people I know do. I own a Nikon D7000 as my main camera, both for serious photography and for informal shots of travel and people. My camera, like any other camera, has the ability to guess the exposure for me, choosing each of the three exposure variables: iris, shutter speed, and ISO. Of those variables, the only one I am more often interested in selecting is the iris, since the choice of f-stop will affect the look of the image, depending on the amount of depth of field I need or desire, and depending on the image quality a specific lens offers at different apertures. However, both in the case of shutter speed and ISO, all that I want (almost 100% of the time) is: the maximum shutter speed, and the lowest ISO the camera can afford with the amount of available light. There are very seldom exceptions, where I might want a lower shutter speed for intended blur (and even more seldom situations where I am interested in higher ISO for the sake of "grain"). So I find myself more often than not letting the camera choose the necessary shutter speed and ISO required to properly expose my photos.

But my camera is not smart enough to choose a proper balance of ISO and shutter speed. So the way it works (at least in my camera) is: I tell my camera what is the minimum shutter speed I need before raising ISO. This is a great feature of my camera, if it wasn't because I have to click six times  several buttons until I reach (in the Auto ISO menu) the point of selecting a minimum shutter speed. At which point, I need to click up or down until I highlight the desired value. This is way to cumbersome and time consuming to do it often, or to do it on every photo (which would be ideal). So most of the time I set it up when I turn on the camera, and then let it go and forget about it, until I see undesired motion blur, or excessive noise from unnecessarily high ISO.

With so much advance in cameras, with so many models coming up every month incorporating incredible and fascinating new technology, I wonder how it is possible that year after year, no camera manufacturer addresses this easy but important issue. Why do you keep hiding the choice of minimum shutter speed in the menus? And why necessarily associated to the use of Auto ISO? I for one wish I could access the minimum shutter speed directly, with no menu interaction, regardless of if I am using or not Auto ISO. Is it too much to ask?

I could have posted this thread in the Nikon forum, but I would like to hear from other cameras users. Maybe there is a camera I don't know out there that indeed allows you to easily and quickly access the minimum shutter speed. I would love to hear about it. I wish one of this new retro cameras with shutter speed dials would allow you to actually use the dial to set a minimum shutter speed, when working in any mode other than Manual or Speed Priority.

In this regard of preventing motion blur, is there yet a camera that has an intelligent auto exposure mode that detects the amount of blur in the sensor, and chooses the shutter speed accordingly? I couldn't think of any more useful tool in a camera to help my relatives and friends (and myself), come home with more keepers when taking casual photos.

Sorry for the lengthy thread. I would like to hear your thoughts, and if such camera exists.

Nikon D7000
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