NEX-7: Anti Motion Blur or Hand-Held Twilight

Anti Motion Blur, ISO 6400, 1/125 second

At first glance, the Sony NEX-7 has two almost identical modes: Anti Motion Blur and Hand-Held Twilight. After reading the manufacturer’s handbook (not much help, there), and using both modes a few times, I still couldn’t see much difference. Mainly, I suppose, because the differences while important are also very subtle.
I finally talked to the Sony rep at my local camera store and he explained it this way:
  • The Anti Motion Blur (AMB) mode is for when your subject could move during the exposure. The camera tries to use a higher shutter speed (and possibly a higher ISO) to try and freeze that motion. Then, the in-camera processing attempts to also negate that motion as it combines the 6 exposures, reducing noise in the process.
  • Hand-Held Twilight (HHT), on the other hand, doesn’t care about subject motion. It just tries to choose an ISO / shutter speed combination that will allow the shot to be taken such that any camera movement will be offset, and, of course, noise also reduced during the in-camera processing.
The “rep” also said that, in general, HHT will produce better, cleaner images.
So, I did a very informal test and according to my results, he was right … but I’m still not sure of the exact reason. The HHT image is definitely cleaner with less noise and a bit more detail than the AMB image, but it also chose a lower ISO – 4000 as opposed to 6400 with the AMB shot.
What is a striking difference, though, is the differences between both of those modes and a normal Program AE shot at ISO 6400 or even 3200.
The top photo was done using AMB, ISO 6400 and 1/125th second. It produced a very nice, low noise image.
The next image was shot in Program AE, ISO 6400, and then a Noise Reduction setting of 50 in Lightroom 4. (I did this because the Program shots were done in RAW and thus had zero camera processing.)
Program AE, ISO 6400, Noise Reduction setting of 50 in Lightroom 4

Below are the 100% crops of all 4 images. I think you will find it obvious that Hand-Held Twilight will be your preferred mode when you need a higher ISO and your subject will remain stationary.

Program AE, ISO 6400, Noise Reduction setting of 50 in Lightroom 4

Program AE, ISO 3200, Noise Reduction setting of 50 in Lightroom 4

Anti Motion Blur, ISO 6400, 1/125 second

Hand-Held Twilight, ISO 4000, 1/60 second

Author: Mike Hendren

Photography is a way for us to express how we view the world around us. It can reveal how we see things - our perception of reality. At times, it provides a creative medium that allows us to alter that reality. Photography also provides a way to capture time and then travel back there whenever you wish. Every time you look at a photo, it can transport you back to that moment, allowing you to relive and remember …

2 thoughts on “NEX-7: Anti Motion Blur or Hand-Held Twilight”

  1. Thank you very much, I'm glad I could help but I have to admit I learned all of this from someone else and just passed it on.
    I agree that these newer small cameras are probably the coming trend. If you can get SLR quality and features in a small body, why would you carry around a big brick? 🙂
    Thanks again and let me know how much fun you're having with that NEX-7!


  2. I just bought the NEX7 and was playing with both the AMB and Twilight settings. The manual does not explain it very well. You solved the mystery. Great work, I have to admit I have used my D90 for a number of years and the NEX7 is putting it to shame. I know the Pros would snub their nose at “Gimmicks” like AMB and Twilight, but a tripod is often not practical or available. These “Gimmicks” work surprising well. The Pros thought image stabilization was a gimmick when Minolta (I think it was Minolta) developed it years ago, they they think it is a must!
    Keep up the great reviews, the NEX7 is a game changer, it may not be the death of the SLR, but the SLR just might go the way of film!
    Mark K.


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