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Camera Platforms

Original article:  Camera Platforms

Remote Shutter Release Our arch nemesis for today is camera vibration. The vibration nemesis can take many forms, the thump, thump of a moving train, or the beat of our heart after hiking to the vista point, or our naturally unsteady hand. Today we will take a look at minimizing vibrations that are right at the point of taking a picture.

    ...enjoy the view without limiting our vision to a 3x5 tunnel...
First let us think about what happens as we take a picture. When we hold the SLR to our eye and press the shutter button, the micro computer tries to get the focus point into the sharpest contrast possible. As we push the shutter button all the way the camera's mirror flips up resulting in a momentary black out of the viewfinder. The mirror is moving out of the way in preparation to expose the sensor to the light coming through the lens. Next, like the pupil in our eyes the aperture gets larger or smaller based on the f-stop setting. Finally, the shutter opens for the defined time to expose the view to the sensor (or film). As we view the picture sometimes our arch nemesis shows up as a blurry scene.

Stabilize with a sturdy camera platform
Taking our shaky hand out of the equation by mounting our SLR onto a stable camera platform is a good place to start taking on our nemesis. A good stable tripod is the best camera platform. The second part of taking our hands out of the equation should not be overlooked. As we press the shutter release button we send vibrations through the camera. By using a remote shutter release our hands never have to touch the camera once it is mounted on the camera platform. Modern remote shutter releases are electronic and simply send an electronic signal to the camera instead of mechanic movement. An alternative can be to use the cameras self timer, the countdown of the timer will give enough time for the vibrations caused by pressing the shutter to dissipate before the picture is actually taken.

Prefocus and goto manual
I like to setup my camera, compose the scene, focus and then switch the camera to manual focus. That way when I press the shutter to take the actual picture the camera does not try to refocus the scene.

Utilize mirror lockup when possible
Most digital SLRs come with the ability for one further vibration killing feature. Mirror lockup allows us to flip the mirror up longer ahead of exposing the sensor. You wouldn't think the small movement of the mirror flipping up would cause vibrations, but first hand experience tells us it does. Using macro or long lens combinations are especially sensitive to mirror vibrations. All cameras operate differently; my camera's mirror lockup function is accessed via a custom functions menu. Please consult your cameras manual for information on your SLR.

Along with defeating our arch nemesis there is an added benefit from setting up our shot on a camera platform and using a remote shutter. We are able to enjoy the view without limiting our vision to a 3x5 tunnel.

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