How useful is the mirror lockup function?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by xpista, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. xpista

    xpista Member

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    Hello,

    Could you share your personal experience with the "mirror lockup"? Are the pictures noticeably better (sharper) when the mirror is locked up? I know that in theory it should be. However I'd like to know practical experiences.

    Could you elaborate it for the following usages:
    1. Camera is fixed on a sturdy tripod
    2. Camera is fixed on a monopod
    3. Camera is handheld

    Thank you, Stefan
     
  2. KenM

    KenM Member

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    Mirror lockup is really only useful when the camera is on a tripod. You're introducing chance when you use ML with a monopod or handheld, since you won't be able to verify composition before you trip the shutter. That is, unless you're rock solid steady, and won't move at all during the compose/meter/set exposure/set shutter/trip ML/trip shutter sequence - doubtful!

    For tripod exposures, I *always* use ML - why wouldn't I? Anything to reduce camera shake from mirror slap is a good thing.

    One thing is for sure - if you use ML, your photographs will most definitely not be less sharp than if you don't use ML. Will they be better? Who knows - depends on your camera.
     
  3. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    With some cameras, it makes ALL the difference in the world. As Ken said, this is a use it on a tripod thing. Some cameras that don't have MLU can fake it by using the self timer (the Nikon FM series is a good example) because the mirror goes up when the timer starts, not when the shutter cycle begins.
     
  4. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    With the Pentax 67II it's a must. The mirror makes a loud "clunk" then the shutter fires.
    As for handheld, i use it then also in some cases.
     
  5. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    Personally, I don't think I'd buy a camera that doesn't have mirror lock up (unless of course it wasn't an SLR... duh!).
    Ara
     
  6. wfe

    wfe Member

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    Agree with Ken. I use it whenever I can as I like very sharp pictures.
     
  7. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The effect of mirror slap varies by camera, so there's no single answer to that part of your question. My 35mm SLR's have a cam driven mirror, so the mirror decelerates at the top of the cycle and stops on its own at the top of its cycle without hitting the chassis, doesn't even have a foam pad there. Some cameras have significant mirror impact against the body, and with lighter bodies, it's a bigger problem. Bigger mirrors on medium format bodies are generally more problematic. I've gotten sharp handheld shots with my SLR bodies at 1/15 and slower using a 24mm lens. But even so, if I want the shot critically sharp and can manage it, I'll use a tripod consistently even on 35mm cameras with wide angles. My SLRs claim not to need MLU because of the cam drive, and so don't have it, so I can't do a comparison with and without. I've not seen a situation where I've determined that to be a factor in the 30 years I've been using it, and I've done tons of macro work. My prior SLRs had mirror lock up and I used it routinely for time exposures and macro work.

    Mirror lock up is critical for some applications, like astrophotography, where it's out on a long lever arm and can ruin a shot. Astrophotographers also use the "hat trick" for cameras without mirror lock up, covering the front of the scope with black objects while the exposure is initiated, and again just before ending the exposure. That trick can obviously be used with any long exposure.

    Lee
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2005
  8. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I use it most of the time on the tripod, and even a lot of the time when hand-held. There is always a risk especially with the hand-held that the camera and/or subject move, but it's better than letting the mirror slap.
     
  9. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    20 years ago when I bought my F3 20 years ago I decided to test the mirror lock up effectiveness.

    This was done with a tripod and a 55mm micro Nikkor lens.

    Shutter speed from memory, was either 1/15 or 1/4. I shot the standard for all camera lens tests, a sheet of newsprint.

    I then did enlargements equivilant to:- 8x10, 12x16 16x20 and finally 1 metre wide on the long side of the film.

    Film used was B&W 50 ASA.

    8x10" virtually no difference, from 12x16" upwards there was a noticeable difference. I remember the 1 metre wide being unuseable, whilst the mirror locked up exposure was useable, just.

    For practical purposes mirror lockup does help, so I use it on a tripod. The only time I use it hand held is with a 24mm wideangle, when I wish to remain as discreet as possible.

    Mick.
     
  10. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    With my P67, NOT using the mirror lock-up is disastrous. Not only is the mirror slap a major detriment to sharp images, but even the shutter vibration is a potential source of problems and mirror lock-up doesn't even address that. So...at least with the Pentax, USE it!!
     
  11. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I also have an SLR which claims not to need it, sentiment echoed by many who successfully use it with long teles and for macro work. I don't know, I would rather it was there. Now, with something like a Pentax 67... wow, you NEED it! I saw some shots where the difference was evident on a 8x10 print, from an exposure taken using a tri-pod.
    My sentiment is this: if you can, use it. It may help a lot, at the very least, it won't hurt. But don't miss a shot because you can't get your camera mounted on a tri-pod and the MLU to work!

    Peter.
     
  12. Simonpg

    Simonpg Member

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    Mirror lock-up or mirror pre-release?

    Simple really, if your camera has the feature and you want the best chance of critical sharpness then USE it. After spending money on sharp lenses, a tripod and nice fine film; why waste it all only to find that the mirror's action jumping up during the exposure caused vibration in the body only to make your final image less than critically sharp!

    BUT, there is a difference in mirror lock-up and mirror pre-release. Lock-up implies that (like a few Hasselblad bodies) the mirror "locks up" untill you disengage the feature. That is, when it locks up it stayes there during subsequent exposures until you disengage it.

    Mirror pre-release (much more common feature) is activated pre-exposure and then after the shutter is fired the mirror up is disengaged as the camera is re-cocked for the next exposure. Most cameras do not enable the mirror to remain "locked" up between exposures.

    A finer point but one worth noting because some shooters must have genuine "mirror lock-up" so that they can operate the camera remotely taking subsequent exposures without having to trip the mirror up again between them.
     
  13. blackmelas

    blackmelas Subscriber

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    For a practical demonstration using:
    1 handheld
    2 a light tripod
    3 a heavy tripod, and
    4 heavy tripod with mirror lockup
    see Barry Thortons graphic results in his Edge of Darkness
    Best regards,
    James


     
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  15. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I use a Mamiya RB67, mostly on a copy stand and always use MLU, as it does make a detectable diference to the sharpness. I use a Pentax 67II for air photography where using the feature is impossible, but find that I really do need to use 1/1000th sec to freeze aircraft and camera vibration and, as others have said, on the ground it does make a real difference and a good heavy tripod with cable release also helps a great deal.

    David.
     
  16. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I've had mixed results using mirror lock-up on 35mm cameras. The Nikon SLR's I've used didn't seem to care whether it was used or not but the Canon EOS cameras I've used absolutely require it.

    The Pentax 645's I use don't have the feature. I didn't think that was a good idea until I actually used the camera. The mirror slap appears to make no difference--the negatives are sharp every time unless I've kicked the tripod or bumped the camera during exposure. I read an article about this on the Luminous Landscape website some time ago that confirmed my observations.

    As said previously, if the feature is there, use it.
     
  17. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    I am an RZ67 user and my recently acquired Canon FB has it also but I haven't used it yet...

    As the mirror will always take the same time to do its travel and associated vibrations you really need to think about relative proportion of this travel time in comparison to the total exposure - If your exposure is very long I think mirror up mode is not required as the amount of light would be restricted by whatever means (ND, slow film, stopping down, low light conditions etc...) thereby the vibrations would only be present in a very small percentage of the exposure ...

    I don't have actual time figures as each camera will have myriad different mechanical effects in different tripod combinations - but for example, mirror up is a waste of time with wide star-trails and handheld (for me at least, I don't know about the pentax 67 users tho :D)

    As a counter example I imagine it would be essential for telephoto exposures around the 1/15 ~ 1/2 second range tho

    ?
     
  18. xpista

    xpista Member

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    This is exactly the critical time for me. I am pretty satisfied with the sharpness for long times (seconds) as well as for the times shorter than 1/125.

    However my camera has the sync time 1/30 and I am not able to get a sharp picture with this time using the 180 sonnar lens (even using the big heavy tripod). I am very suspicious that this is exactly the camera shake cause by the mirror flip.

    Since I my camera does not have MLU capability I am considering upgrading it to the MLU enabled model. Do you think that the MLU can solve my problems? (180 mm lens on the MF camera @ time = 1/30 or 1/15 s)?

    Thanks, Stefan
     
  19. desertrat

    desertrat Member

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    In a similar vein, what can we do for a medium format SLR that doesn't have mirror lockup or prefire? I've started using a Kiev-80, forunner of the Kiev-88. I tried using it on my standard tripod, a camcorder tripod I paid about 40 dollars for a couple of years ago at Walmart. This unit has the interesting combination of being heavy, but not very stable. I guess that's what I get for buying what I did from where I got it. I put a reducer bushing in one of the two 3/8" tripod sockets, mounted it on the camcorder tripod, and fired the shutter with a cable release. It's amazing how long the camera shook and twitched on the tripod head after that. After some experimentation, I found two partial solutions. For handheld work, using a camera strap and pushing the camera down hard till my neck hurts really helps. For the tripod, well, I hauled out Bruneau's Pneumatic Tripod that I use with the Seneca 8X10. With the camera bolted solidly to a slab of 3/4" plywood that makes the camera platform, it's very steady. But heavy. Not very portable, and no finesse, but it helps.
     
  20. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    Getting anywhere near tele lens focal lengths in which a 180mm is considered by most to be a 'short tele' in 6x7 at least and using shutter speeds around the time most shutter vibrations are at there worst I would say yes it would help ...

    However, I'm not sure what camera you are using but if your talking sync speeds it sounds like your MF has a focal plane shutter that may also cause problems ...

    I would suggest you search out other users of your camera and the upgraded version to get hands-on advice

    In my case the RZ has a leaf shutter so once the mirror is up its all go.

    (aside from major problems with wind vibrations):rolleyes:
     
  21. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I don't mean to start a brand holy war, as I like the Pentax 67 quite a bit - but I have heard many people say that the mirror on those cameras is only part of the problem - the (I believe) horizontal travel shutter moving across such an expanse of film being an issue in and of itself. This is of course erradicated by the "non-directional" (a misnomer, I know) nature of a leaf shutter. What makes me wonder, then, is that so many knowledgeable and very competent photogs swear by their P67's - and the one I used and have seen many results from, was quite a capable camera in every way - but definitely needed its mirror controlled at slow shutters.
    What I venture to propose, is that there is a "sweet spot" if you will, most affected by the mirror slap/shutter shake. I would further venture that it varies from camera to camera, and that certain shutter speeds would pretty much make the exercise of trying to control it completely redundant. But, and its a significant "but" - who wants to go into the extensive research (with so many variables - like your tripod weight, sympathetic vibration frequencies, the ground its on... and so on and on). Perhaps it would be of some academic interest, but mainly, its not worth the trouble. Like has been said before, it can't hurt and often it is proven to help greatly, so use it when you can.
     
  22. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    In 1973, I preformed a test similar to the one Mick performed. Major differences in methodology were:

    1. Instead of testing the mirror lock-up feature, I was comparing the performance of two ASA 50 black & white films (H&W Control VTE and Kodak High Contrast Copy
    2. Instead of a Nikon F3, I was using a Nikon F2.
    3. Instead of the 55mm micro, I was using a 50mm f2 Nikkor.
    4. In addition to shooting with the mirror locked up and without the mirror locked up, I also tested with UV protective filter and without UV protective filter.

    My results were identical to Mick’s. At the higher enlargements, I too noticed better image quality with the mirror locked up. At the higher enlargements, I also noticed better image quality without the UV protective filter.
     
  23. Snapperlondon

    Snapperlondon Member

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    Very important with my Bronica...the mirror is so vigorous that I've nicknamed the camera 'Thunker' because the mirror goes 'thunk'!
     
  24. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    Same here. I use it all the time when shooting with the camera on a tripod. It gives the last bit of sharpness.

    Morten
     
  25. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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  26. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I almost always use a very heavy tripod with my 35mm camera which in turn has a rope hanging from the center column to a foot pad that I step upon firmly with 100kg of weight and the mirror locked up.

    Zeiss on their website when discussing high resolution photography in their news letter Camera and Lens news has this to say. We know of no (SLR) camera that has mirror lock that does not need and we do not know any camera that does not offer it which would not benefit from it.

    Since to me composition is the most important element for me of the photograph I do not use mirror lock up in the few instances I use a hand held camera. I will when placing the camera on a bench or ledge, hold it in place and lock up the mirror locked before tripping the shutter.