Mirror lock

edited March 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3300 Forum
Tripod users recommend engaging the "mirror lock up" setting to insure sharp focus (along with disabling VR on the lens). Our D3300s have a setting called "mirror lock for cleaning". Is this the same thing? Is it safe for our equipment to use as we take photos on the tripod?


  • edited March 2016
    Mirror lock up will not aid sharp focus. It is a way to reduce the vibration in the camera so that your shots do not suffer blurriness due to camera shake. It is most commonly used in macro work or in low light situations (eg. photographing the moon). In most normal circumstances there is no need to use mirror lock up when using a tripod.
    Turning off VR when using tripods is recommended as leaving it on can actually lead to blurred pictures. However, if using a monopod, it is usual to leave VR on.
    I am not familiar with your camera, but I would think the setting "mirror lock for cleaning" is synonymous with mirror lock up. No doubt another Nikon user will guide you on this.
  • edited March 2016
    Mirror lock up for cleaning is pretty specific to cleaning, and as far as I know the shutter will not operate correctly. When you select Mirror up for cleaning, the shutter will lock open until you turn the camera off.

    If you really want the mirror up for a tripod shot, switch to Live View just before the shot. Live View is always done with the mirror up. The only problem here is if you are using auto focus and recomposing, as LV may attempt to refocus. If you have gotten exactly the composition you want, you can switch the lens to MF to insure that LV does not refocus. For astro and macro photography, you will probably need manual focus anyway, and you can get very precise manual focusing with the live view and tripod if you zoom in on your subject.

    As PBKed recommends, turn off the VR on a tripod. In many instances it will do no harm but it does no good. It varies with the lens. Supposedly some newer lenses have automatic tripod detection, but the easiest way to be sure is to turn it off.

    I should add that in the case of the D3200 at least, I have experimented and found that there is little or no mirror shake, and it's probably not an issue anyway. Interestingly, this is a little better than the case with some more expensive models such as the D7100, which do have a little mirror shake at certain slow shutter speeds. In correspondence with a D7100 user who was having some issues here, I tested both it and a D7100 pretty hard. The D3200 was very good.

    P.S. If you need to do a long time exposure, more than the 30 second limit, get the infrared remote control, which is very cheap. When you set the camera on "bulb" shutter speed, the IR control makes this a "time" setting, with the first button push opening the shutter, the second closing it. It's a feature, not a bug: this is the only proper way to get a true time exposure.
  • edited April 2016
    Thanks for your time and advice, PBked and Bruto. It's great to know that Live View will accomplish the mirror up function and that having the mirror up is perhaps not all that big a deal. I must admit that I don't use LV much, though I can see advantages of the screen over the viewfinder when a tripod is added to the mix. Great to know about the advantages of manual focus in this mode since the auto focus in LV is a bit of a pain.

    I did get a nifty little Amazon Basics shutter remote that is fun to play with. I experimented with your suggestion about using manual focus in LV and it is fabulous with the bulb setting - thank you! What a huge difference.

    Photography is so cool because there is something new to learn at every corner, both technically and artistically. I love learning new things, so should never be bored with making pictures!

    Thanks again!
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