Does "no mirror" really = sharper negs?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Jedidiah Smith, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Considering how long I've been into the hobby, I have never really gotten into rangefinders - pretty much because I just could never understand the concept, I think. I played around with a Fuji 645 AF rangefinder for a while two years ago, but sold it to get a 35mm SLR system again...

    I have a very basic question on the premise of the rangefinder itself. Since there is no mirror to vibrate and cause "slap", does that lend itself to a sharper image simply because of the design? Or is it not that simple? I mean are there other things in the design that are inherently good or bad for vibration, or other things that might rob or create a sharp negative?

    I've been down a very crazy road this last year personally, going from making it to having to sell every last bit of hobby gear I owned just to stay alive (I don't even own a single camera right now, I'm borrowing my Dad's DSLR at the moment)...but now things are looking a little better, and I am in the process of creating a darkroom again (this time in an extra "storage room" at my office) and will be getting a film camera again.

    I have most experience with Minolta manual gear (XD-11, X-700) and AF gear (Maxxum 7, 9), and was just going to get back into that. However, I have always had this strange desire for a Contax G2 every time I see one! :D
    So that's where my rangefinder question is coming from. I mostly shoot landscapes and occasional street - type work. I now live in Ventura, California if that matters for the shooting style.
    Thanks for any tips on these, I really appreciate you all letting me ramble, and it feels really good to be back on a photography forum with hopes of hitting Freestyle for some chemicals within the month... Good to be back!
    Jed
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Not having a mirror does reduce vibration, but even more important, not having a mirror makes it possible to use non-retrofocus normal and wide lenses, because the lens can be closer to the film, so it's easier to design a better lens for a rangefinder camera (at least wide and normal lenses--that's why there are so many excellent lenses in the 85-100mm range for 35mm SLRs) than for an SLR.
     
  3. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    OK, that makes sense. So that's why a rangefinder makes such a great street rig, then, where the usual FOV is 35mm or so?
    I guess when I used that one rangefinder, what I missed was seeing exactly what the lens sess (like in an SLR). Hmmm...maybe I should revisit this? Ah...decisions! :D

    Jed
     
  4. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I doubt that not having a mirror reduces vibration to the extent that it's visible in a negative.
    Sharper negs because of better lens design-yes. especially in wide angles.
    With RF cameras there is less shutter lag between when you press the release and when the shutter begins to move. In Leica it's in terms of ~10ms VS ~25ms in a SLR. The Contax doesn't have a mirror but does have AF that will incur some lag.
    Regarding the ttl viewing, if you're not doing close-up, the minimal parallax error can be discarded as a concern although I've read threads where people are concerned about error with 21mm lenses & auxiliary finders! Oh, Please!
    The nicest thing about SLR's is the isolation of the image through the finder. You have the composition surrounded by that nice black frame.
     
  5. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I think that each photographer should use the camera that is best for him or her. I really love shooting with an SLR. Bu I also really enjoy shooting with a rangefinder. These days, I've been shooting with neither -- a little zone-focus camera.

    Luckily, film camera prices are very reasonable, so you can build up great SLR and rangefinder kits without going broke.
     
  6. zumbido

    zumbido Member

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    There have been many, many published demonstrations of the effect of the reflex mirror. They confirm my own tests, which show that it does indeed cause vibration that is visible in the image... in certain circumstances. Like most things, sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn't. Also, putting the camera on a tripod doesn't necessarily help. A light tripod will often damp the vibration less than just holding the camera in your hand.

    That said, I'm back to shooting with an SLR about 80% of the time after a few years of being rangefinder-oriented, because of other advantages.
     
  7. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    Q:Does "no mirror" really = sharper negs?

    A: Sometimes.

    :smile:
     
  8. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    Like Jason said: a very strong "sometimes."

    Rangefinder wide angle lenses can be fantastic with much less work than SLR wide angles. That said, the latest wideangle offerings from Nikon/Canon etc. are far from bad, but if you go vintage, I would take my 1950s 35mm f/2.5 Nikkor over any Ai or Ai-s equivalent.
     
  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Mirror slap is an over exaggerated effect that has become lone battle cry urban myth propagated by RF users who have not figured out how to overcome their parallax problems and how to use a polarizer correctly on an RF camera. :surprised:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkKcbyh2CrA

    Steve
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Well... cameras without mirror boxes are smaller and often substantially quieter and therefore more suited to low-profile photography. Those are probably the biggest reasons why RFs and TLRs have been favoured for street and concert etc. Not because of mirror slap itself.

    Anyway, whether mirror slap matters or not depends on many factors. There is no clear answer yes or no. If you go looking for indications that it matters then you will find them. If you start with the assumption that street shooters are all a bunch of irrational leicaphiles or rolleiphiles then you will probably come to a different conclusion! As an SLR and RF user I'd say it depends. Plenty of things I can do with one kind of camera but not the other.

    As with many, many things in photography, it is up to the individual to determine the optimal gear for their work.... through testing and experiment.
     
  11. zumbido

    zumbido Member

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    That video is silly for a number of reasons. Ask a physics teacher if you're interested. :wink: Suffice to say that many, many real-world photo tests have demonstrated that it does matter, for certain (but not all) common conditions. These are extremely easy to find online if you don't feel like going to the library ... google things like "mirror lock-up test".
     
  12. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Oh yes that video :rolleyes: which proves, to a high degree of certainity, that if you balance a penny on a hassie and fire it then the penny won't budge.

    The question is, what else does it prove :wink:
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I post the video because I get tired of seeing posts claiming that a Hasselblad with a 80mm lens or a Nikon SLR with at 50mm lens, both so called normal lenses, cannot be hand held for shutter speed of 1/60 seconds. Which is a bunch of $#!+. Normal body motion, limit cycling, from breathing to the heart pumping cause more motion than the so called mirror slap. Claims that an RF can be hand held for 1/5 second are also a bunch of $#!+. Below 1/[lens focal length] it becomes necessary to use a tripod or set the camera down on a stable surface, some for sooner than others. The duration of mirror slap is so short due to dampening that a 10 second exposure is not going to show any effect, but it may be wise to lock up a mirror on long exposures as a good practice.

    If one were to down enough brewskis then at 1/125 or 1/250 seconds one can get blur with either an SLR or RF camera.

    Since I have been an engineering professor and technically I am a rocket scientist I will ignore the comment about asking a high school physics teacher posting on line for advice. :wink:

    Steve
     
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  15. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Well I disagree. I can handhold to that speed for sure and get acceptable sharpness. The "trick" is not to use the shutter release at all but to use the timer instead. If you do that you will find that 1/5 is difficult but not impossible. It is a low probability shot under many conditions, but one in two or three shots will be just fine if the wind isn't blowing too hard :wink:

    But I do agree, Steve, that a hassie (or rb) is certainly handholdable to 1/60. If that's really what you want to prove then why not simply show shots taken handheld at 1/60? The penny thing proves nothing in this regard.

    Along those lines, this shot was handheld at 1/15 or 1/20, as I recall, with a mamiya 645 afd. 1/60 is nothing.
     
  16. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    If I use a short shutter speed, I do not notice any difference because the shutter speed is fast enough to freeze any movement caused by mirror vibration.

    If I use a long shutter speed, I do not notice any difference because the mirror vibration time is insignificantly short compared to the long amount of time the shutter is actually open.

    I do, however, notice image degradation caused by mirror vibration when I mount my camera on a telescope and use a shutter speed between 1/2 second and 1/15th second. Thank goodness my SLR's mirror lock-up feature is very useful for avoiding this degradation.
     
  17. zumbido

    zumbido Member

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    All of this, agreed. Sometimes.

    All of this, disagreed. Mirror slap does indeed show an effect, in common conditions with a normal lens, even up to 1/125 and beyond. See Thornton 2000 pg65 for one published example... there are many to be found on the 'net of course. That said, proper holding or stabilization technique can mitigate though not eliminate the effect, and some bodies are more prone than others (bodies for formats larger than 35mm seem to suffer less, I'd imagine--but don't know--because of their weight).

    Reciprocal of focal length is overly optimistic in my experience. Most folks without training can effectively handhold at one to two stops faster than that, no more. Average person seems to need 125 or 250 on a 50mm lens on 135 to get "acceptably" sharp [edit to add: at 8x10 or above, depending on the image you might not notice the effect enough to be a problem at smaller sizes]. But, that's one that people can and do argue about endlessly, so, to each their own experience.

    Hey, cheers for not taking it seriously. I'm new to this forum and so far it seems much more pleasantly easygoing than most. :smile: I will say that the PhD "rocket scientists" and fluid dynamicists and whatnot that I work with have often forgotten how to tie their shoes at this point though... :wink:
     
  18. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I would submit that the focal length of a telescope is much longer than camera lenses [ignoring mirror lenses] and therefore 1/[focal length] << 1/2 second or 1/15 seconds.

    Steve
     
  19. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    Think of the Pentax 67. It's mirror is larger and heavier, with greater inertia and momentum, but it illustrates the concept of image degrading mirror induced vibration. A 35mm slr's mirror is smaller, but so is the film size, which needs to be enlarged (along with any lack of crispness) to a greater degree, to obtain the same final print size.
     
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Exactly.

    Hand held? Probably not.

    On a tripod? Probably.

    A rangefinder just is not the kind of camera I would use on a tripod (or any 35mm camera, for that matter, except for in uncommon situations)...therefore, the lack of a mirror has no advantage for me. It is not one of the advantages of a rangefinder, IMO (in terms of "camera shake"...not in terms of lens design/collapse-ability).
     
  21. SFC

    SFC Member

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    I recently tested some of my cameras on an old rickety tripod to test the shaking that each camera showed. A laser pointer was strapped to each camera. Here are the results I saw, observing the light about 30 feet away, and with each camera on "B.":
    Canon F-1 (new): 0 shaking. Very damped mirror/shutter. That's probably why they left out a mirror up feature on this model.
    Bronica S2: Even with a huge, noisy mirror, very little vibration.
    Leica M2: some side-to-side shaking in certain circumstances. This can be felt even when off the tripod.
    Pentax k20d: definite side-to-side movement, in spite of vertically-travelling shutter. Impossible to dampen, even on larger Gitzo CF tripod.
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    The laser pointer and penny tests don't really tell you if the vibration is affecting the image. There could be a lot of vibration when the mirror returns and the shutter closes, and that wouldn't make any difference.
     
  23. olwick

    olwick Member

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    The Pentax 67's problems are also due to the shutter curtain. See the illustration, even with the mirror locked up, here:
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/pentax67ii.shtml
     
  24. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    Thanks for that link. Here's a quote from that site:

    The problem I experienced requires some further explanation. The Pentax has a large rapid-return mirror. At slow shutter speeds (below 1/125 second) and especially with long lenses, it should be locked up. This is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for all medium format cameras, and should be even for 35mm cameras. Mirror shock is a real sharpness thief for critical work.
     
  25. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Wow, this is interesting. I wonder how an old slr, say a Minolta XD-11, would compare to a modern one, like the Minolta Maxxum 7 or a Nikon F100. Does anyone know if they made any serious technological in-roads regarding mirrors and vibration over the years?

    It's interesting to note that Minolta stopped putting MLU on their SLRs after the SRT 102, all the way until the Maxxum 7. That's nearly 30 years until they felt they needed it, I guess?

    On the rangefinder lenses - is the wide angle lens advantage really obvious in a print, or have the lens makers been able to overcome the problems with SLR wide angle designs with computer aided drafting and such?
    Thanks,
    Jed
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2010
  26. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    In my understanding, however, the laser pointer test involves actually photographing the laser point on the wall, not just viewing it with your eyes. Therefore, the test should work just fine to tell you if the slap is affecting the camera during exposure.

    As for the penny test, it is just silly, IMO.