Long exposures with the D3100

edited March 2012 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
Hi Folks, I've read that if you lock the mirror you can eliminate the chance of camera shake for long exposers. I thought I would try the mirror lock up function on my Nikon D3100, but I could not able to figure it out how to do it. Checked the user manual it only gives information on mirror lock for checking and cleaning the senor. Is there any way to do mirror lock. Thanks!


  • @hsenid - The mode you're looking for is 'Bulb' mode. In Bulb mode, you manually hold the shutter open while the shutter button is engaged. In order to shoot in this mode, you'll need a remote like the Nikon MC-DC2 (see here).

    To activate bulb mode, enable Manual mode (M on the mode dial) and rotate the smaller command dial to the left until you see 'Bulb' pop up on the info panel. With the remote, you would engage the shutter button and hold it down for a long exposure. Once you release the shutter button, the exposure will end. Hope that makes sense and happy shooting! :)
  • edited March 2012
    The Live view switch locks the mirror up. Use live view ie. the screen instead of the viewfinder for long exposures and you will avoid mirror slap vibrations.
  • edited January 2014
    Hi. I'm thinking of purchasing a D5300 or D3300 for landscape photography. I would sometimes take it on multi-day tramps (hikes) along with a compact tripod. The D3300 appeals as it is cheaper and I do not care for the articulating LCD screen that the D5300 has, but I do value mirror lockup as a feature. I would use mirror lockup virtually all the time, which the D5300 is specified as having and the D3300 as not having. I realize I may get this in Live View, but I do not think I would want to be in Live View all the time (I do not know. I am unfamiliar with Live View on a DSLR) and I may find the LCD screen hard to see when outdoors. The sales assistant I spoke to said I would get mirror lockup functionality on the D3300 with a certain brand and model of a corded remote control using the bulb mode. If this is so, is this usable for both short and long duration exposures? Is it easy to employ bulb mode?
    Thank you for considering my question.
  • edited January 2014
    Bulb Mode is for exposure times greater than 30 seconds. You don't have to worry too much about the slight vibration of the mirror as it will only be a second or two. In fact, somebody can pass in front of the camera on a long exposure and you won't even see them on the image.
    It is very rarely you will need bulb mode unless you are taking low light photos and for this you definitely need a tripod.
    You have more chance of a blurred image by holding the camera on a slow shutter speed from 1/30 of a second than worrying about mirror lock up.
    If you are taking landscape images then you will be using a reasonably fast shutter speed like 1/60 and shorter so the mirror up is redundant. You might want to try setting the shutter on a 2 second delay to give to time to take your hand off the camera after squeezing the shutter button. Note I said squeeze and not press.

    I have taken images at 1 second hand held and when projected on the computer screen are not blurred, but I had to cramp up, hold my breath a couple of seconds and it worked. Try pushing up against a tree , building or wall while taking the image to stop movement. You will be surprised how long a second is when taking a photo.

    Be aware of what sales people tell you, they are there to sell boxes and tell you what you expect to hear, not know, about a product (this goes for anything not just cameras).
    Using live view really hammers the battery.

    The articulated screen is another weak point on cameras and so easy to catch and damage.

    Any way, good luck and keep trying.
  • edited January 2014
    Thank you very much, bluestar. Yes I expect to be buying and using a compact tripod. I want to be able to print some sharp and quite large landscape images and I'm prepared to do what I can to maximize the likelihood of sharp images. My conclusion is, I have to buy the D5300 for its MLU. I hope its articulating screen does not prove to be damage-prone.
    I might also prefer the wireless remote instead of the corded.
  • edited June 2015
    Hi people. Mirror lock up is to remove the vibrations of mirror rising before you take the photo. I mean, you lock the mirror up, and then the curtain will open to take the picture. You do this to prevent vibrations when using shutter speed of about 1/50 up to 1/5 (for lower speed it has not sense). Using Live View will rise the mirror, but it will go down right before taking the photo.

    Using bulb mode is also useless because the mirror locks up at the same moment you take the photo.

    Hope this helps you.
  • edited June 2015
    If the mirror descends, it blocks the sensor. In Live View the mirror goes up and stays up. The shutter goes through its dance (shuts, opens for the exposure, shuts to end the exposure, then opens again), but the mirror stays up until you either power off or go out of live view. You can confirm this by taking off the lens, setting it into M mode and firing the shutter in live view.

    I do not think there is any other way in which shutter and mirror action are separated enough to make a difference.

    Modern cameras have little issue with mirror slap, but on those occasions where it is absolutely necessary to eliminate it, live view should work.

    I do think it's too bad that recent Nikons have not incorporated shutter delay in their self timer setup, which would satisfy everyone. Some cameras (not our DX Nikons, alas) are arranged so that when you use the self timer the mirror ascends well before the shutter opens, ensuring that any vibration has ended before the exposure begins.

    For landscapes on a tripod, I doubt there would be an issue, but the battery intensity of live view would not be too severe if one did the composing in viewfinder mode, then switched to live view for only long enough to take the shot.

    While there are plenty of good reasons for buying the best model of DSLR you can afford, I would not count the D3xxx's mirror slap as a severe enough reason by itself.
Sign In or Register to comment.