Does Mirror Lock-Up Actually Improve Sharpness?

Does Mirror Lock-Up Actually Improve Sharpness?

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Before getting started with Mirror lock-up and how it relates to sharpness- let’s have a quick look at the Mirror lock-up feature. 

What is mirror Lock-Up?

Mirror lock-up is one of the popular features and it is available on all Nikon or Canon DSLRs. This common feature allows you to flip up the mirror in the camera and then wait for the vibration from the flip of the mirror to drive away before tripping the camera shutter

What is the purpose of mirror lock-up?

The main purpose of the mirror lock-up feature is to regulate the vibration in the camera so that when you are clicking an image, it doesn’t shake which might create a negative impact on your photo.

Why and When to use mirror lock-up?

If you are an exclusive portrait photographer then mirror lock-up doesn’t help you much as it is too clumsy and portrait photography doesn’t need the slow shutter speed whereas mirror lock-up feature needs slow shutter speed. 

 This feature is popularly practiced by landscape and night photographers. They use the mirror lock-up technique as they can utilize the long shutter speed on every shoot. It is the fact that this technique adds an extra layer of sharpness to your photography because vibrations don’t occur by the mirror. There is no benefit in using the mirror lock-up technique while shooting portraits.

The mirror lock-up idea doesn’t work when you are shooting in long exposures with a solid mounting. But for short exposures, mirror lock-up is a good idea for high-resolution. It helps to reduce camera shakes and vibration caused by mirror slap. 

You can find it on top of the camera and some have it in the custom setting in the menu. Some DSLRs require the shutter to be pressed once to lock the mirror up and then be pressed again to open the camera shutter. 

Does Mirror Lock-Up Actually Improve Sharpness?
Photo by Felix Mittermeier from Pexels

How to practice with mirror lock-up technique?

Professional photographers suggest some best ways to practice mirror lock-up. If you are a beginner in landscape then you can test the sharpness by taking a photo of a newspaper, magazine, or book. This could be a perfect idea as you can easily zoom in on the newspaper and can differentiate the sharpness improvement. 

You can use a 200mm lens as the vibration is too low to magnify and you can see the deduction of the sharpness caused by the mirror-lock vibration. 

For example, try some shots with mirror lock-up and then without mirror lock-up feature. For best results, use a good tripod while shooting images. You can also try macro photography using the mirror lock-up technique. 

Does mirror lock-up bring any improvement in sharpness?

No! The mirror lock-up technique doesn’t bring any change in your photography quality. Many photographers are not even well aware of this feature. But, you can try it theoretically mirror lock-up makes sense and it reduces the vibration of the shutter. 

If you don’t have a tripod then the mirror lock-up function may help you. But you have a sturdy tripod then there is no need to use mirror lock-up. The image lost its real sharpness due to vibration as the mirror is fast flipping.  

The feature, mirror lock-up has been in DSLRs for a long term. In the early days, the mirror lock-up feature was highly used in SLRs wide-angle lenses. Now, the camera mirrors are designed to reduce the vibrations in most of the DSLRs. 

How to enable the mirror lock-up feature?

It is needless to say that every DSLR or SLR has a different setting so, check out your mirror lockup feature in the manual or you can find it online. 

You will see the dial to scroll to the mirror lock-up feature and select the settings button and mirror the “Mirror lockup” option on a Canon 5D III.

The Mirror lock-Up feature is turned off generally.  

After selecting “Mirror lockup,” choose “Enable” and then press the “Set” button again.

The Mirror Lock-Up feature is now enabled.

As every camera works differently when concurrently using the AEB and Mirror Lock-Up features. 

If you have selected the AEB mode and Mirror Lock-Up features both on a Canon 5D Mark III then the HDR mode is turned off. 

When the HDR mode and mirror lockup both are enabled in Canon 5D Mark III, you can take sequential shots by pressing the shutter. You will get a bit of sharper images while using both features.

Mirror lock-up in astrophotography

Photographers who have started landscape photography, keep asking about using mirror lock-up during night photography. 

As we know clicking the night sky is one of the difficult challenges in photography where you need long exposures. It needs lots of patience, knowledge, and undoubtedly a professional camera. 

Before trying astrophotography or night photography- all you need a great DSLR and a tripod. You have to follow some basic steps to capture the milky-way in mountains or a full-moon dazzling night. As astrophotography is all about long exposures but when it comes to capturing short exposures at night- the mirror lock feature will help you to capture the exact moment without shaking the camera lenses.

How to do mirror look up in camera?

Step 1

Set your camera to the manual exposure mode

Step 2

Adjust the exposure compensation to zero

Step 3

Always use Wide Aperture

Step 4

Go with the longer shutter speed

Step 5

Setting high ISO Level

Step 6

Turn on the autofocus Off 

Step 7

Select the Highest Resolution and Quality Setting

Step 8

Choose the RAW image format

Step 9

Choose white balance 

Step 10

Turn In the long exposure noise Reduction OFF

Step 11

Turn on the sharpening OFF

Step 12

Setting the color space to sRGB

Step 13

Don’t forget to turn the Flash off

Step 14

Choose remote shutter release 

Step 15

Shooting in bulb mode

Step 16

Now, you must enable the mirror lockup feature 

Step 17

Lastly, you should cover the viewfinder 

Let’s see how the Mirror lock-up feature will help you in astrophotography 

Mirror lockup will not help you in long exposing photos but in short exposures- if you don’t enable mirror lockup- you might find blurry sky or shaky images. All you need is a sturdy tripod to avoid this unsteadiness.

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