Sometimes Easy Auto mode isn’t an easy, automatic choice

Now that I’ve been using the Nikon AW100 for about two weeks I’ve learned a bit about what it can and cannot do for me. In good lighting it makes good decisions most of the time. In tricky lighting, I am learning that it is best not to let it make all the decisions.

I was at a New Year’s Eve party where the lighting was generally low. In some areas of the home it was quite inconsistent with a brighter lit area in the background of a dimmer area. More often than not, the AW100 in Easy Auto mode seemed to try to not fire the flash opting for a natural look. This may have been tied to face detection and it thinking it was shooting portraits of relatively static scenes. I lost a lot of otherwise good shots to blur from the subject, photographer or both moving too much for handheld, no flash shooting in this lighting.

In other cases, the AW100 chose to fire the flash but often seemed to try to manage exposure for something other than the focal point. This happened even with face detection clearly identifying the subject. I got washed out and underexposed results.

I’m not big on resolutions for New Years but I think I’ll resolve to choose scenes and flash modes myself in tricky lighting when using this otherwise superb little compact digital.

My other resolution which I seem to never keep is to remember that, despite a lifetime of shooting as many or more vertical as horizontal photos, I need to always shoot horizontal when shooting video! Too many times I import a clip into the editor and find myself looking at sideways footage not easily salvaged. Maybe camera manufacturers could warn us when we hit those handy, dedicated record buttons while holding the camera vertically?