Whether you’re shooting close-up macro pictures or sweeping landscape photography, you’re always going to want crisp images. Pin-sharp macro images are particularly hard to achieve because they often require small apertures, which in turn means using slow shutter speeds. Thankfully your camera’s Mirror lock-up function can help rescue your photos from camera shake.
Combine the long exposure with a large macro-lens magnification ratio, and the effects of tiny vibrations are really noticeable.
The lightweight shutter blades in your DSLR don’t cause too many vibrations, but the heavy mirrors and metering sensors do.
Micro vibrations caused by the movement of the mirror a split-second before exposure can affect overall sharpness, especially if you’re shooting on a rickety tripod.
The solution to this problem, which occurs every time you take a photo, is to lock up the mirror a few seconds before the shutter fires so that the mirror is out of the way and the vibrations from its movement are given time to dissipate.
Mirror lock-up should be used with a remote release cable as the first press of the shutter button only moves the mirror out of the way.
It’s the second press of the button that exposes the shot, so it’s counter-productive to touch the camera during this process as any physical contact induces more vibrations.
Exposure-delay mode works in a similar way to mirror lock-up, but after pressing the shutter button just once, it locks up the mirror, pauses, and then fires the shutter.
How to take sharper photos using the mirror lock-up function
Set up the camera
Some DSLRs have a dedicated button or switch that enables the mirror to be locked up out of the way before the shutter fires. On this Nikon, the function is called MUP. Ideally, you’ll want to use a remote release too, so connect that too.
If you don’t have a remote release cable, have a look through your camera’s menu settings to see if your camera has an exposure-delay mode, which is the next best thing. If your subject is static, it won’t make any difference.
How it works
When you press the shutter button the mirror flips up out of the way in advance of the capture so the shutter can fire without any internal vibrations. After the shutter opens and closes the mirror returns to its normal position.
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