The quest for pin-sharp images, especially when having to use long exposures, is greatly helped by using tripods and remote releases, but there’s also mirror lock-up to give you a hand, too.
Working with a cable or remote release and mirror lock-up or exposure delay mode ensures images
are aligned pixel for pixel when doing a bracketed sequence for HDR work.
The dampening features for DSLR camera mirrors are designed to eliminate camera shake from ‘mirror slap’ vibration that occurs when the mirror flips up before the shutter opens. However, with shutter speed times of about 1/100 second or longer, there is often a subtle image-softness from camera motion when using bigger, heavier telephoto lenses or macro equipment that have a lot of magnification.
Even with a sturdy tripod mount holding the camera quite steady, when centre mounting a heavy 70–200mm ƒ/2.8 zoom lens, or standard mounting a 105mm ƒ/2.8 macro lens, there is some slight instability. The mirror lock-up feature solves this problem by making the mirror up/shutter release a two-step process.
Using mirror lock-up ensured there would be no camera motion in this close-up of a tiny crab.
This is only helpful when the camera is on a tripod and a cable or remote release is being used. Using your finger to press the shutter release button on the camera won’t help at all, as doing that will create camera shake no matter what lens is being used.
With mirror lock-up turned on, the first press of the shutter release triggers the mirror to flip up. Pause a second or two, or as long as is needed to be sure there is no more camera motion. Press the shutter release a second time to activate the shutter. The mirror will drop when the shutter closes and the exposure is complete.
Some cameras expand on this with an ‘exposure delay’ mode, which is effectively an automatic mirror-lock feature. A single press of the shutter release makes the mirror flip up, and there is then a pause before the shutter fires. While this feature has a fixed time on most cameras (typically 1 second), the length of the delay is adjustable on some newer models. In both instances it is an effective way of eliminating camera shake when the camera is on a tripod.
101 Top Tips for Landscape Photography is where professional landscape guru Carl Heilman II gives the benefit of a lifetime spent shooting spectacular wilderness and mountain shots, offering a host of targeted tips and tricks that will allow photographers of all abilities to lift their landscape work to the next level. The reader will learn how to harness natural drama, use difficult lighting situations to your advantage and capture unusual perspectives, all the while benefiting from Carl’s clear instruction and beautiful landscape work.
101 Top Tips for Landscape Photography
Carl Heilman II
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