Do you know what your DSL Shutter is Doing?

Here is some awesome high speed photography. Destin has a YouTube video channel called “Smarter Everyday”. He published this high speed video showing a DSLR camera shutter working. Watch this short video, then I’ll help you to improve your photography…

In the top left corner of the video there is a counter showing the time taken.

The mirror/shutter sequence is…

  • The mirror goes up. Look how much movement there is! Especially notice the mirror bouncing into its resting place above the shutter. This is causing a lot of vibration inside your camera.
  • The camera waits to calm the worst part of the vibration.
  • The shutter ‘first curtain’ opens, exposing the censor to light.
  • Then, the ‘second curtain’ falls, closing off the light. As the shutter closes, look at the shutter curtain and watch it vibrate!
  • Finally, the mirror comes down again. By now the shutter is closed. This last movement does not affect your shot.

The mirror causes a lot of movement in your camera. You can particularly see how much movement there is from vibration and distortion in the mirror mounting when it drops back into position. In this video that is really obvious. That same amount of movement occurs on the mirror up-lift, although the video does not show it quite so well. The uplift movement of the mirror causes vibration throughout your camera. This impacts on your shot milliseconds later as the shutter opens because the camera is still vibrating from the mirror uplift.

My point is that the movement of the shutter and the mirror creates a lot of vibration in the camera. Vibration that affects the sharpness of your picture.

The shutter has to move, you cannot do much about that. To minimise the vibration in your camera – prevent that mirror vibration!

In your DSLR camera manual you will see there is a function called ‘Mirror Lockup’. This allows you to lock the mirror up before the shot starts. Thus, when the shot is taken, all the mirror movement is eliminated. The mirror is up before, during and after the shutter opening sequence. ‘Mirror Lockup’ is one of the important techniques for improving sharpness.

The “Mirror Lockup” technique is particularly effective when you use a tripod. Vibration in your camera causes waves of vibration through your tripod. These vibrations often continue well into your shot. Eliminating them can sharpen your picture a lot.

There is a downside to the mirror lockup technique. While the mirror is locked up the viewfinder is blocked. So you will need to set up your shot before doing the mirror lockup.

This video helps you understand a main source of vibration affecting the sharpness of your shot. This vibration actually comes from within the camera. Learn from your manual how to do “Mirror Lockup” and eliminate this cause of lost sharpness.

Destin does some really fun videos. They cover basic, everyday science – it’s great fun. He has a terrific sense of humour. I subscribed to his channel last year and have enjoyed his work ever since. Subscribe to this YouTube channel and you get notification of new videos.

Damon Guy

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