Importance of mirror lock-up

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tkamiya

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I am wondering if I can get an advise from practical stand point.

I shoot mostly in digital and 35mm format. My main interests are landscape and nature. So far, I have not done any work in low light conditions without an use of flash or some type of artificial lighting. I also do not use tripod. I almost always hand-hold and when necessary, I brace my body against a steady object. I have NEVER used or felt the need to use mirror lock-up in any of my previous shootings.

With that said, how important is it to have the mirror lock-up capability in medium format cameras? I see M465-J does not have MLU and I see an older version of Pentax 465 and Pentax6x7 does not have this feature, either.

I read somewhere, in medium format, because of the size of the mirror and the inertia, they are more prone to camera shake and other issues caused by NOT having MLU. Is this true?

In everyday use, how important is the mirror lock-up?
 

Q.G.

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The mirror in MF cameras is indeed larger and has more mass.
But so is and has the body it is in, the thing it has to set in motion to cause camera shake problems.

So not a bigger problem with MF than with 35 mm. Perhaps (haven't seen or done a comparative study of the ratio of the masses of cameras and their mirrors in different formats yet :wink:) even less so.

A moving bit coming to a sudden stop will always pose the problem of where to put the energy, and some of it will always be transferred and transformed into a movement of the entire thing. So it always is a good idea to use mirror prerelease whenever possible.

But a good thing can be spoiled completely by a bad thing, so when you are handholding, don't even bother thinking about moving mirrors.


And my personal crusade thingy:
Mirror lock up is when a mirror can be locked up, to remain up no matter what you do or the camera does, until you unlock the mirror again.
There are very few cameras that offer that.

But many cameras offer mirror prerelease: the release cycle is started, and halted at the point after the mirror has swung up, before the shutter does its business.
Unlike mirror lock up, this is not a permanent state, only controlled by your decision whether the mirror may join in again or not: as soon as you press the shutter button the mirror joins in the play again.

MLU is the wrong abbreviation/term. :wink:
 

jeroldharter

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If you are shooting stationary subjects, there is no good reason to not use mirror lockup if you have it.

The bigger the mirror, the bigger the potential problem.

Mirror lockup is an important feature on the Pentax 67. Unless the cost difference is compelling, get a model with mirror lockup for doing landscapes. You simply push a switch near the lens, wait a couple of seconds, then push the cable release. Very easy and minimizes one variable en route to sharp images.
 

MattKing

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If you do a lot of macro work, or work with long telephotos, than mirror lock up/mirror pre-release can help.

If you use a tripod for close to medium distances and a lot of mid length exposures (1/15 - 2 seconds, say) to increase depth of field, than mirror lock up/mirror pre-release can help.

When you evaluate a camera, check whether it offers mirror pre-release through a self-timer function.

Matt
 

Venchka

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1. Pentax 6x7 bodies with MLU are newer, therefore potentially more reliable. Less use on them. But not by much in the case of the first generation MLU bodies.
2. I use MLU with both the Pentax 6x7 and Hasselblad. Even hand held. It's there. It can't hurt image quality. Why not use it?

OK. We must be mirrorly correct. My cameras have mirror pre-release. The Pentax mirror returns when the shutter is tripped. The Hasselblad mirror returns when the film is advanced and the shutter is cocked. Same movement of the film advance crank-two for one.

The cost difference between early Pentax 6x7 with & without mirror pre-release should be very small.

My Canon EF body has a proper mirror lock up. That sucker stays up until you tell it to come down.

Otherwise, buy a TLR.
 

Oren Grad

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In everyday use, how important is the mirror lock-up?

It depends...

...which camera you're using (some mirror/shutter actions are much better damped than others)

...which shutter speed you're using (some cameras have special difficulty at particular shutter speeds - the Pentax 6x7 is notorious for this)

...which lens you're using (long focal lengths tend to be more problematic both because of the extra image magnification and because the combination of camera and big, heavy lens may be more prone to mechanical resonances)

...which tripod you're using (how rigid the tripod is, how rigid the camera attachment is, what the particular mechanical resonances of the design are)

...how big an enlargement you plan to make

...how critical a viewer you are

All of which means that, for any given camera/lens combination that you'd like to use, you should run your own tests to see whether the results are satisfactory for you.

As for the specific cameras you mention, the Pentax 645 mirror/shutter action is exceptionally well damped as medium format SLRs go, certainly much better in that respect than the Pentax 6x7. I don't know about the M645J, but manual focus Mamiya 645 bodies are so cheap these days that you might as well get one with mirror lock, so that you'll have it if/when you need it.
 

sharris

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Mamiya 645 mirror lock up

hi..great question and one i had too. I recently purchased Mamiya 645m. Has Mirror lock up..and totally new to this typically 35mm shooter. So I took it out and took two snaps. One with it on.the other off. Speeds varied between 1/30 and 1/60...because that is where most of my daytime ISO 400 shots are taken. I used a tripod. Purposefully took shots with wires and long distance. For the most part, no real diff to me anyway. But I could see a couple instances where in far, far distance a power wire or tree top was blurred without the lock up and still pretty clear and present with it on. Nothing that would alter the presentation of the photo. But was there. My mamiya really 'slaps' too when shutter released. Anyway, take it as some feedback from the field. Cheers.
 
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tkamiya

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Thank you, everybody! This puts this particular aspect of search in prospective.... a lot better than what I gathered by reading random articles and reviews.
 

MikeSeb

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I shoot with an RZ67. I use mirror pre-release every time wIthout fail when shooting on a tripod.

My observation is that MLU / MPR makes a significant difference in sharpness with the RZ. it's painless to use, so why not obtain every possible increment of image quality?
 

mtjade2007

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If you ever shot a Camerz Z-II or Z-III school portrait photography camera you probably will see, like I did, how big the mirror shake it produces and how little it impacts the image quality. The mirror (which is the shutter itself) is huge (bulky) and is activated by an electric solenoid. It produces a loud noise as well as a huge camera shake. The shutter speed is fixed at 1/60th of a second. I once tested one outdoor with natural night rather than an electronic flash. It produced a beautiful extremely sharp 645 image. The camera was on a tripod of course. It can not be used hand held. It was a cheap tripod with a ball head. The Camerz camera does not have a MLU whatsoever. It is usually used with an electronic flash so mirror (shutter) shake is no issue. But It can be used with natural light too with excellent result.

I shoot my Pentax 67II hand held without using MLU almost exclusively. I shoot mostly at 1/60th and above but sometimes at 1/30th if necessary. I really have not felt the need to using MLU. I know. MLU is useful. It does make a difference if you need to blow up your images at a very large enlargement. My point is do not afraid of using a camera without it.
 

dpurdy

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With my Pentax 67 I have another reason aside from motion to use MLU. If you are shooting a portrait or picture of a person, the mirror slapping up is loud enough to cause a very high degree of blinks and closed eyes during the exposure. I keep my camera on a tripod and automatically lock the mirror up before taking a picture, and then the loud slap happens after the shutter has closed and the eyeballs stay open.
Dennis
 
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tkamiya

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Thank you, everybody.

I am in very early stage of finding my first medium format camera. I appreciate everybody's feedback.
 

narsuitus

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For whatever reason, I do not notice mirror vibrations degrading image quality at shutter speeds longer than 2 seconds and shorter than 1/15th second. However, I do find the mirror lock-up feature very useful for neutralizing the detrimental effects of mirror vibration when I am shooting with a shutter speed in the range of 1/15 second to 2 seconds.
 

MikeSeb

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Again, it comes down to cost/benefit. Cost: zero, in a camera body so equipped. Benefit: improved sharpness (IMO.)
 

Steve Smith

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For whatever reason, I do not notice mirror vibrations degrading image quality at shutter speeds longer than 2 seconds and shorter than 1/15th second. However, I do find the mirror lock-up feature very useful for neutralizing the detrimental effects of mirror vibration when I am shooting with a shutter speed in the range of 1/15 second to 2 seconds.

The reason is that mirror vibration probably lasts somewhere in the region of 1/15 to 2 seconds (though probably no longer than 1/2 second).

If you used 1/250 you probably wouldn't notice it as that is fast enough to freeze any movement and a shutter speed of around twenty seconds wouldn't suffer either as the amount of time the shutter is open with the vibration is a very small part of the total time.

However, if you are using a tripod and you have the facility, there is no reason not to use it.


Steve.
 

Pupfish

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I'll second that the Pentax 645N doesn't need MLU as it is so well damped/braked. Frankly I cannot see why anyone would be willing to pay 2X as much on eBay for the P645NII, which has MLU but little else besides.

With certain MLU cameras --the Rollei 6008 Integral and 6008AF, for instance-- the mirror-up function is also used to dramatically shorten the shutter propagation time. These Rolleis can be set to release a precise 3ms after the shutter is triggered, very useful for stop-action work. The Pentax 645's, on the other hand, have a propagation time closer to 250ms and from what I understand it isn't shortened by using MLU.
 

nc5p

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I do shoot a lot at 1/30, 1/15, and sometimes slower. It does help to lock it up at those speeds. I can't see any improvement at higher speeds.
 

Steve Smith

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A lot depennds on the mechanics of the camera too. My Bronica ETRS seems to have more mirror slap than my larger RB67 but I believe the RB67's mirror mechanism is on a cam system so it slows down at the end of its travel instead of hitting and end stop.


Steve.
 

Venchka

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Once upon a time...

...a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

I dreged this up from the Wayback Machine last night. My first Pentax 6x7, pre-MLU of course, 105mm lens, Ektachrome, I didn't own a tripod then. As you can tell, I was in the shade. Do the exposure math. the shutter speed wasn't very fast. You can't tell from this tiny JPEG, but the Spanish moss along both edges is quite sharp. :wink:

Early 1970s. South America Street, Covington, LA.

Mailbox+Covington+P67-105+EKCH-1.jpg
 
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tkamiya

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So... the real answer is... yes, no, it all depends - all at once...
 

Venchka

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Yep. I was fine when I didn't have it. I'm fine now that I do have it.

My philosophy: If you have it, use it. If you don't have it, be careful.

Enjoy!
 

2F/2F

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re: "lockup" vs. "pre release": Good point about the terminology. However, it seems to me that most of the cameras I have used with the feature do have a true mirror lockup. My Canon FD bodies and my Mamiya M645, as well as my Nikon F all have lockup. The RZ is a pre release, as the mirror returns when the shutter is cocked.

The M645's is the best, IMO. It is a totally independent and dedicated control that is quick and easy to use. No interlocks, no conditions for use, no fiddling, etc. Switch goes one way and mirror is up; switch goes the other way and mirror is down. The Nikon F's seems to be the worst. I can still never remember exactly how to use it, no matter how many times I have fiddled with it. The RZ is overly fiddly and requires at least one cable release. Definitely slows down shooting and setup.

If MLU is there, I always use it when shooting on a tripod. I have shot 35mm cameras on a tripod, but it is so rarely that I can probably count the occasions. I use it all the time (with the self timer) at a work when photographing the showroom or houses with a Canon 20D. I do believe that if you are using a tripod with long, but not super long exposures, then putting the mirror up does make a difference. I do not believe that a flapping mirror makes much of a difference when hand holding the camera. I believe it is mostly steadiness of holding the camera and releasing the shutter, and that it is mainly the ergonomics of rangefinders that makes people think that they can be hand held at slower shutter speeds than an SLR.
 

BobNewYork

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I've always used MLU with all formats as a matter of course - even with 35mm - when using a tripod. It just seems to me that that "every little helps" when you want the highest degree of sharpness available to you.

Bob H
 
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