Slowest speed without mirror lock-up

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by jsimoespedro, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. jsimoespedro

    jsimoespedro Member

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    Hi all,

    I am inexperienced with medium format - just got a camera - and due to the large mirror size it is advisable to use the mirror lock up function at higher speeds than you would normally do in a 35 mm camera.

    I read somewhere should be at 1/60s and slower. I ask what is your personal experience about this. Please post only your experience and not something you read on the web.

    Thanks.

    João
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I've gone as slow as 1/30 without mirror lock up and it was with a 645 format camera.

    It's hit-and-miss though and my ability to hold the camera steady was more of an issue than the mirror slap. Of course, I don't print THAT large for this kind of thing to be a major factor.
     
  3. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    My experience has been that it pays to lockup the mirror at any speed when sharpness is paramount, especially when using a poorly damped tripod.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Years ago I had this discussion with Peter Cattrell ( at that time Fay godwins printer). His and Fay's experience was that mirror lock helped at all speeds when a camera was used on a tripod. The discussion came up privately at a workshop when Peter commented that maybe one or two images I'd shown didn't quite have the critical sharpness he'd expect, they were made before I began always using the mirror lock except for hand held work.

    In practice hand-held your body absobs the shock from the mirror but on a tripod it tends to be amplified.

    Ian
     
  5. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I'm assuming hte question is about when camera is on tripod. If so, my experience is same as Emil and Ian's.
     
  6. jsimoespedro

    jsimoespedro Member

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    Thanks for the replies. So to summarize:

    1) If on a tripod, always use mirror lock-up.
    2) If not on a tripod, forget it. Holding the camera steady is more important.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You've got it :smile:

    Ian
     
  8. Noble

    Noble Member

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    It depends on several factors. As was mentioned hand held or on a tripod? I don't know if the hand held dampening theory put forth is accurate. The fact of the matter is the simple act of pressing the shutter release with your finger will impart plenty of vibrations on its own so whether the mirror is doing anything or not is immaterial.

    You also have to factor in that the normal lens for most of the medium format cameras I've used is 80mm. With an APS-C DSLR you are looking at 30mm. Based purely on that alone you are going to have a considerably more blur prone experience with medium format. The other thing to consider is tripod. If you don't have a solid tripod in a lot of situations you will be wasting your time with mirror lock up. Your final print will only be as good as the weakest link in your work flow. My first tripod was one of those cheapy Vanguard plastic jobs you can get at Best Buy. Even with mirror lock up the results were often terrible. I eventually ponied up a whopping $80 and bought a used vintage Tiltall aluminum tripod in excellent condition. A bit too much bling for my taste but you can't argue with the results.

    The other thing that matters somewhat is what camera you are using. I have been using a Rollei 6008 Integral lately. The camera has an electronic cable release that has two big buttons. One says mirror and the other says start. So to take a picture I press the mirror button and wait a few seconds then I press the start button and the picture is taken. The question is why wouldn't you use mirror lock up for every tripod shot. It really doesn't add any more effort. Now if you get some other camera system I've heard mirror lockup can be more cumbersome. In that situation you will have to decide for yourself.

    This is an article about MLU from a 35mm SLR perspective. It's from 1998 but it is just as applicable today. The graph included is interesting.
     
  9. 2bits

    2bits Member

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    A bunch of good info packed into this thread!
     
  10. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Recently all my shots have been on a tripod even 35mm so I don't worry about mirror lockup.

    Jeff
     
  11. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Yes, this. However in terms of rule-of-thumb for (2), I find that the usual t=1/f rule gives acceptable sharpness, so I tend to shoot 1/125 with my 110mm lens and 1/250 with my 180 and 250mm lenses.

    People vary a lot (like a factor of 4) in their shakiness and cameras vary in the mirror weight. For sure you can shoot at slower speed with a rangefinder than a big SLR, and probably slower with a 645 than a 67. Having a long heavy lens on the camera will damp the vibrations significantly due to its moment of inertia.

    With tripod and MLU, I try to go no slower than 1/15 on portraits just for subject-motion reasons. Your hit rate at that speed is not 100%, but there will be a good fraction of shots that are razor sharp.
     
  12. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    I regularly shoot my RB67+90mm at 1/15 with no problems and I also have no qualms shooting it at 1/8, but I do have to be extra careful at 1/8. My negs are sharp every time. I don't understand people who say that they're afraid to go below 1/60 or even 1/125.

    EDIT: This is all handheld of course!
     
  13. SMBooth

    SMBooth Member

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    Not really a matter of slowest speed, mirror lock is more important at slow speeds around 2-1/60 sec. Really slow speed such as 5-20sec proberly doesn't matter because of the recording time verse movement time.
     
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  15. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    It all depends upon the camera that you own and how well the mirror is dampened.

    For years Pentax 645 and 645n camera owners begged for a mirror lock up. Pentax claimed that it was not necessary because their mirror was so well dampened. Pentax finally relented and produced the Nll with MLU. Tests were run and the results were that the MLU made absolutely no difference. I have owned all three cameras and I couldn't see a difference.

    I also saw a test where a Rollieflex, Mamiya RZ67, Hasselblad 500cm and another camera were tested hand held for vibration. Of course the Rollieflex (without mirror) came in first. Surprisingly the heavy RZ with larger mirror came in second and the light Hasselblad came in last.

    In my opinion, if you want the sharpest image then shoot with your camera mounted on a good tripod with cable release and use mirror lockup.
     
  16. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    I can't give you any empirical data to prove one way or the other, but in practice I regularly use MLU with most of my medium format SLRs when they are on a tripod just because there isn't much reason not to. But practically speaking, trying to use MLU when shooting handheld is very difficult since the VF goes black. Furthermore, hand shake is likely to become a problem before mirror vibrations anyway.
     
  17. Salem

    Salem Member

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    When shooting pentax 6x7 hand-held I noticed that the view angle affects the sharpness at low speeds. If I use the WLF I get better sharpness than with the prism; shooting with prism straight ahead is less sharp than shooting with the camera tilted downward. So I guess it depends, among other things, on how stable your stance is at the moment of releasing the shutter. I remember in pistol shooting training that I went through many years ago, that the first step in training was to find the right stance, which should be relaxed and stable. Once you find that stance the shooting accuracy improves considerably. Maybe it's the same with shooting MF and maybe that's why you find people report getting sharp results with very slow speeds while others struggle at higher speeds; the former just found their correct stance.
     
  18. Noble

    Noble Member

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    It depends on how you define sharp. As I told this gentleman if you only view a picture as a 500x500 pixel image on the web you can get away with all kinds of things. To truly evaluate sharpness you will need a 100% crop with and without MLU and a hand held sample. I have certainly pulled reasonable images off of a negative after shooting a medium format 80mm lens hand held without mirror lock up under 1/60, but I doubt it was better or equal to what I would achieve if I used a good tripod and mirror lock up. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do but that doesn't mean the results will equal those of the best case scenario. Also I've actually sat there and shot three frames in a row hand held with hopes that one of the frames will show a minimal amount of blur. I just don't think IMHO that someone can tell a new comer to medium format film shooting a 6x7 SLR handheld with a 90mm at 1/15th of a second is a "no problems" proposition. I can be done but "no problems?"

    This makes sense. I didn't want to muddy the waters earlier but if you look at the chart in my link it clearly illustrates that vibrations from mirror slap calm way down fairly quickly so if you are doing a 20 second exposure I have my doubts about how much the vibration will negatively impact the final print. But by the time you are breaking out the tripod and doing 20 sec exposures it doesn't make any sense to skip the few seconds it takes to implement MLU.

    Let me preface my remarks by saying I have never used any Pentax cameras.

    Your remark seems to be backed up by information found on the web.

    Interestingly that link says the MLU isn't very effective in the 6x7 model because the shutter does tons of gyrating on its own. I'm a leaf shutter man myself (Bronica and Rollei). Supposedly they are less vibration inducing.
     
  19. jsimoespedro

    jsimoespedro Member

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    Hi,

    the chart on the link may have several interpretations, but I am sure it does not demonstrate the need for MLU.
    Firstly you would need to have a comparison with a vibration chart showing a MLU version.
    Also, it is impossible to tell appart vibrations caused by the mirror and those from the shutter it self. Those peaks during the expose time may well come from the shutter.
    Additionaly, the vibration pattern changes when the shutter is closed, which indicates the shutter is playing an important role.

    In my opinion the shown chart does not prove or disprove the advantages of MLU.

    João
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    It all depends on physical ability. Some people are able to hold a camera still, and others are incapable of it. I cannot hand hold a 50mm lens at 1/60th of a second and get a sharp picture for the life of me. That's with a Leica M2. So it isn't as simple as just doing it. You have to be physically blessed.
     
  21. Noble

    Noble Member

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    You have to read the labels.
     
  22. jsimoespedro

    jsimoespedro Member

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    ??
    Which labels? the time axis?
     
  23. Noble

    Noble Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  24. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Ironically the vibration on a tripod is worse at speeds you'd think would be OK. By half a second it's becoming less important, it's the 1125. 1/60, 1/20, 1/15 which can be affected quite significantly.

    The graph above is one instance, the frequency, mangnitude etc will vary depending on the camera, tripod etc. You need to test your own eqipment and see what works best, but as cameras age some may get worse.

    I've seen very significant differences using the mirror lock on my Mamiya 645, and I know people with Bronicas, Hasselblads and Penta 67's with similar experiences, all when using good professional tripods.

    Handheld is another thing, I've been happy shooting my M3 Leica at 1/30th great results more consistenly sharp than when I used SLR's, I prefer a TLR for handheld MF work when possible althopugh I do still use my Mamiya 645's as low as 1/30 with good results.

    Ian
     
  25. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    My wooden Berlebach tripod seems to drain vibration very effectively. In 16x20" prints I can't really tell a difference between frames with mirror lockup and those without.

     
  26. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    1/60 for me using Pentax 67 hand held. MF cameras do have very large mirrors, that's true. Some photographers specify the reciprocal of the lens focal length e.g. 90mm = 1/90 (1/125) handheld.