Ophrys Photography

Wildlife photography by John Devries, Kent UK. Inspirational images from nature.
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Mirror slap part 2

Comparing the Canon 5DmkIII with the 1DmkIV

As you will have gathered by my first article, I have long been concerned about the harshness of the mirrorslap on modern cameras, particularly my Canon 1 series which produces easily felt vibration. It is generally accepted wisdom that when shooting around 1/10 sec on a tripod with a cable release you need to use mirror lock up. I now feel that MLU is beneficial from as high as 1/60th sec.

Having now added the 5D mkIII to my arsenal, it occured to me that the vibration seems much reduced and in the 3fps and single shot "silent shooting modes" it feels virtually non-existent. I wondered if this would be the case if put to the test.

I used a banknote as a target, 300mm f2.8 lens, gitzo tripod, cable release and zero noise reduction or sharpening in ACR where I processed all RAWs in a batch conversion. I moved the tripod back a bit for the 1D4 to compensate for the crop factor. I shot the 5D3 normally, in silent mode and with MLU and the 1D4 just normally and with MLU.(I didn't include the MLU results in the 100% crop results below as they were all identical and the same as the cameras shooting at 1/250 sec.)

Test image:


The results are best viewed at a larger size than I can reproduce on this web page, so please click here to see the larger view.


The 1D4 was clearly showing signs of image softening by 1/60 sec, so when shooting below 1/125 sec I would not shoot without using MLU.
The 5D3 is also showing a little degradation by 1/60 but not to the same extent as the 1D4,and once below 1/15 sec, the vibration has pretty well become benign again, unlike the 1D4 that is still soft at 1/8 sec.
However, with the 5D3 shooting in Silent mode there is negligible mirrorslap at any shutterspeed ! From these results, using MLU (or liveview) on the 5D3 appears to be pretty well unnecessary for reasons of vibration control.

Shooting with a tripod and cable release is different to shooting handheld or when gripping the camera/lens on a tripod as the hands will absorb vibration, so I am not suggesting that you cannot shoot the 1DIV without having to resort to MLU at less than 1/125 sec under those circumstances.

Finally, the 1DIV can also shoot single frames in silent mode (but not a burst like the 5D3) and I later tested this as before but unfortuntely it did not improve the mirror slap vibration at all despite the reduced shutter noise.

The 5D mkIII in 3fps Silent mode has a distinct benefit. Provided that the full frame rate of 6 fps is not required, 5D mkIII users can enjoy shooting very quietly at 3fps with the knowledge that they can totally disregard mirror slap as something that softens images at low shutterspeeds.