It has surprised me that some people will use a tripod but not use mirror lock up nor a cable release. Well without a cable release you can use the 2 second timer, but without mirror lock up half the point of the tripod is lost. The slap of the mirror on any SLR camera is probably the largest negative effect on sharpness in any photo (depending on shutter speed of course and assuming the camera is steady). Do a quick test or look up many of the tests online, the mirror slap creates a lot of camera shake and reduces sharpness considerably. This video is quite good at demonstrating the difference. So, enable mirror lock up so you separate the mirror action from the exposure and shoot from a tripod using cable release for ultimate sharpness. And if you are me, try and remember to clean the lenses just once a year as well, that too helps with sharpness.

Now, the real trick and topic of this post is I recently begun to shoot handheld with mirror lock up enabled as well. It works better for stationary objects as you have to double tap the shutter button and with the mirror up of course you have a black viewfinder after the first click! But just learn to hold the camera steady in between clicks and you are fine and even handheld there is a large difference with the mirror locked up before exposure! Takes a bit of practice but it makes a large positive difference in sharpness for your handheld shots.

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6 thoughts on “Mirror lock up handheld shooting

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  1. Geoff 9 years ago

    Very true, this is quite important mainly at slower shutter speeds from my experience.

  2. mattlauder 9 years ago

    I can understand the benefit of mirror lock up for higher shutter speeds but not for slower ones. If your a live view shooter then your mirror is already up anyway. Another problem with beginners and shooting on a tripod is keeping their "IS" on. That's a quick way to kill a shots sharpness.

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 9 years ago

      Matt, you're right, for slower speeds I am of course using a tripod. And I often use live view on the tripod and then yeah, the mirror is already up. But it does make a difference as well at higher shutter speeds shooting handheld.

      Leaving the "IS" on…oh I have done that many times as well on my 24-105 lens. Blasted thing ruins every shot on a tripod!

  3. rhoehne 9 years ago

    Most pictures even at 1/60 for a 50mm lens can benefit with a tripod but once you get to times of say 60 seconds the vibration of mirror slap is not so relevant. Shake caused by mirror slap over 1 second is such a small portion of a 60 second or longer exposure that its effect is not detectable.

  4. Tiberman Ramyead 8 years ago

    The SHUTTER MOVEMENT (apart from the mirror) does not contribute to camera shake? Can somebody enlighten me on this? I am worried about this particularly during the crunching burst meant for HDR.
    Tiberman – Mauritius

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 8 years ago

      Hello. The shutter is just a series of tiny blades opening briefly, causing no (well, I suppose a tiny tiny almost un-measureable amount) vibration.