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Thread: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it in handholding shots?

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    Mirror Lock Up - How useful in handholding shots?

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    Mirror Lock Up
    How useful in handholding shots?


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    Previously in the film days, only the best Nikon SLR has mirror lock up (MLU) feature. That’s in the Nikon single digit F series. Even the F100 which is considered as the little brother of F5 doesn’t has MLU feature.

    So, how useful is MLU?

    With the advancement and convenient of digital photography, I can now take shots and experiment shots easily. Nikon now has MLU in their single digit D series and also in the Nikon D200 (D80, D70, D100…etc. all doesn’t have MLU). So, now the question is…how useful is MLU?

    Many people have the mis-conception that MLU is only used when you have your camera on tripod. Quite true during the film days where one have to turn a lock manually to lock up the mirror manually, and this required quite big movement and will definitely change/move your subject composition. However, now with better technology and design, Nikon MLU shots can’t be done any easier!

    On my Nikon D200, change the drive mode to MLU (there are S, Cs, Ch, Timer…etc. and MLU is on the farthest right on the dial - not seen in the picture below, but is just next to the timer symbol).



    When you have set your drive mode to MLU, then the rest is easy. Half press your shutter button to focus, then full press your shutter button to Lock Up the Mirror. Full press again to then take the actual exposure, the mirror will go down after taking the exposure.

    So, how does mirror lock up helps in taking photos?
    When taking a shot in SLR (Single lens reflex) camera, the reflex mirror will go up, the shutter blade will then open to expose the film/sensor to the light. After that, it shutter blades close and mirror return down.

    During the process, especially when the mirror goes up, it bounces onto the upper position of your camera chamber, hence creating a minor shake or vibration in your camera. Before the vibration settles down, when the shutter blades open and took a shot, this can be visible in your final photos. This is especially obvious at shutter speed 1/80s to 1/15s.

    Why critical shutter speed between 1/80s and 1/8s?
    When at higher shutter speed, the exposing time is very short hence normally the shake/vibration can’t be recorded. When at very low shutter speed, the light enters the camera is very dim normally, hence before the film/CCD could record down the light, the vibration has already settled down. Eg. at 5 seconds shot, the first second of time, the light has not been properly recorded on the film/CCD. From 2~5 second time, the vibration due to mirror bounce has already settled down, hence no effect of shake on final images.

    Myth?
    Now you have read enough…those can be theory and how does it proves in real life? Or is it just a myth to attract more people to buy camera with MLU but end up an useless feature?

    As I have explained above. On Nikon D200, you do not have to mount your camera onto a tripod when using MLU. Since the photo taking process is just press once, press twice, it can be done handhold! So, how does the final photos come out?

    Results
    Enough talking, here’s some example shots I took last night. Take note that for the photos without MLU, I have tried my best hand holding technique and hold my breadth before taking the shots.

    1st test shot:
    • Camera: Nikon D200
    • Lens: Tamron SP 17-50mm F2.8
    • Handhold
    • Shutter speed = 1/80s
    • Manual exposure
    • Exif intact, check yourself
    Full frame view


    100% crop without MLU


    100% crop with MLU


    2nd test shot:
    • Camera: Nikon D200
    • Lens: Tamron SP 17-50mm F2.8
    • Handhold
    • Shutter speed = 1/40s
    • Manual exposure
    • Exif intact, check yourself
    Full frame view


    100% crop without MLU


    100% crop with MLU


    Verdict:

    As you can see in the comparison photos above, MLU does indeed give much sharper photos than without MLU! It is definitely not just a show off feature in Nikon professional DSLR, but in fact a very very useful feature that will help deliver sharper photos to photographers!

    I am now even happier with my D200!
    Last edited by khoking; 19-11-2007 at 08:39 PM.
    Dr Koh Kho King
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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    KK, nice illustration and samples.

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    i think my 350d got it as well right? gotta read my manual again...
    BUY FILM NOT MEGAPIXEL

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    mirror lock up to reduce vibration, just like rangefinder which dun have mirror but all time MLU


    nice and clear write up KK !
    I'm full time gear head, yes i am... :D

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    I'm not sure about 350D, but 400D have this features.
    Thanks for the tips! apreciate it a lot!

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    Thanks for the experiment/tip.

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    Mirror Lock up is essential for shooting long explosure, it will reduce any vibration, i think it should apply to all range of DSLR

    But francky speaking i don't use it since i buy my D200

    Good article for KK

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    MLU is very necessary for macro. Not sure if MLU actually makes a difference when the shot is taken hand-held. For testing purposes, its not really accurate to compare handheld shots with and without MLU, because one cannot guarantee that in both handheld shots you are actually not shaking the camera yourself more during the mirror unlocked shot compared to the mirror locked shot.
    Yusuf Hashim


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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    I just realised most of my cameras do not have a mirror......

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by digitalartist View Post
    MLU is very necessary for macro. Not sure if MLU actually makes a difference when the shot is taken hand-held. For testing purposes, its not really accurate to compare handheld shots with and without MLU, because one cannot guarantee that in both handheld shots you are actually not shaking the camera yourself more during the mirror unlocked shot compared to the mirror locked shot.
    Good point, but I actually did some real life shots by shooting some evening city landscape with MLU. I notice the photos are sharper indeed, after that only I did some MLU test as shown above.

    Of course my test above is not scientifically accurate, just like people testing VR/IS handheld, not all the time is gives the same results but in general VR/IS does help give sharper / less shake photos. I am not trying to proof the usefulness of MLU on tripod, as it has already been known and proven. The main point of my article here is using MLU while handholding. (ok, I edited my first post title a little bit)

    Not sure about Canon DSLR MLU mechanism, but on Nikon DSLR, it definitely is very easy to use and definitely help reducing shake. Like davidnikon has pointed out, it makes your camera more like a rangefinder without the mirror bounce/shake. However, one important point is that one must press the subsequent shot fast enough in order to avoid focus shift/move.
    Last edited by khoking; 19-11-2007 at 08:39 PM.
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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by ixusmys View Post
    Mirror Lock up is essential for shooting long explosure, it will reduce any vibration, i think it should apply to all range of DSLR

    But francky speaking i don't use it since i buy my D200

    Good article for KK
    Same as you, I don't seldom use MLU as well. However, I hope that with this article, you can at least have an option and know how to minimize shake if you need to shoot at low shutter speed but without a tripod. MLU really does help.

    Thanks.
    Dr Koh Kho King
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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it in handholding shots?

    Thanks KK for the tips~

    If i use the MLU at all my shots will it spoil the camera or not?

    cos if not... Everytime i shoot, i set it to MLU all the time wont that be good for my every shots?

    Sry for my newbie Questions

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it in handholding shots?

    Quote Originally Posted by kagewong View Post
    Thanks KK for the tips~

    If i use the MLU at all my shots will it spoil the camera or not?

    cos if not... Everytime i shoot, i set it to MLU all the time wont that be good for my every shots?

    Sry for my newbie Questions
    It won't spoil your camera, but it is not suitable for all shots as once the mirror is up, you can't refocus anymore and if your subject moved or your hands moved, then your focus would be out.
    Dr Koh Kho King
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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful in handholding shots?

    I tot we can use them during lens cleaning only.haha. Thanks KK!

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful in handholding shots?

    D80 no MLU?
    [URL="http://www.jasonbeyond.com"]www.jasonbeyond.com[/URL]

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it in handholding shots?

    MLU is on every Pentax dSLR bodies. A very useful feature and i find myself using it occasionally when needed. I dont think i will survive without one.

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it in handholding shots?

    Interesting. Now what happens if you have use MLU and VR enabled? Sharper pics still? Then no need to do USM in PS?

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it in handholding shots?

    Quote Originally Posted by bimmer View Post
    Interesting. Now what happens if you have use MLU and VR enabled? Sharper pics still? Then no need to do USM in PS?
    Not sure if this can be done simultaneously or not.

    I am thinking more of how LIVE VIEW work...is the mirror up or down? If up, then live view should give sharper photos!
    Dr Koh Kho King
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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it in handholding shots?

    Thanks for the tip Kho King, will try that out with the D200 tonight.
    http://www.markleo.net

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    Re: Mirror Lock Up - How useful is it in handholding shots?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mavik View Post
    Thanks for the tip Kho King, will try that out with the D200 tonight.
    Hi Mavik,

    Please share your findings here after you have tried it out. Let's get more to confirm the usefulness and practical use of MLU in handholding shots.
    Dr Koh Kho King
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