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D800, mirror slap and AF-P lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon Chat' started by ChrisNewman, Jul 20, 2017.

  1. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member


    I use a D800, and my principal lens is a 24-70 f/2.8, but to add versatility with minimum weight, I usually carry a few DX lenses. My telephoto is the AF-S DX VR 55-200/4-5.6G IF-ED, ironically my lightest lens. The smaller format matters less than with my Sigma 8-16mm ultra-wide angle, because often with the telephoto, my subject might be something like a bird that doesn’t fill the frame anyway. I’ve been wondering from time to time whether to replace the 55-200mm with something with more reach, and the launch of the AF-P 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR prompted me to consider options. But my 55-200mm never seems to be as sharp as I would expect, and I notice the image jump in the viewfinder as I shoot. Recently I tried shooting hand-held through the viewfinder, but with 1 s exposure delay. The black-out was disconcerting, but I got sharper images, so I fear my 55-200mm shots are compromised by mirror slap. The only other lens I have longer than my 105mm macro is my Sigma 150-500mm. This is massive compared to the 55-200mm, so I only carry it for specific uses, and usually with a tripod, but although it’s soft at 500mm, that is inherent in the lens, and if used hand-held, its weight seems to stop it being affected by mirror slap.

    Telephoto lenses I considered:

    AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR (somewhat lighter than current Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, and hopefully optically superior).

    AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 G ED VR (lighter than FX, but smaller tele aperture; 2 reviews said it was surprisingly good for a budget lens).

    AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR (lacks the versatility to replace a zoom, but probably the best reasonably lightweight telephoto available).

    Then I found that the D800 is not compatible with AF-P lenses (and the D810 has limited compatibility), whilst there seems litte point in buying a prime for its sharpness if its images will be degraded by mirror slap.

    Can anyone advise on mirror slap when using a D800 hand-held through the viewfinder with a lightweight telephoto?

    I believe the D810’s mirror is better cusioned. Assuming Nikon launchs a D820 with still better performance, and other advantages, I might be tempted. According to the Nikon website, on the newer AF-P lenses the focus mode and VR are set using the camera menus. For years I used a Tamron 24-70mm on my D800, but unfortunately wrote it off, and now use the Nikkor 24-70 VR. For all my stabilized Nikkor and Sigma lenses, I’m advised to turn off VR before powering down the camera, but Tamron doesn’t require this. The problem with turning stabilization off is that I sometimes forget to turn it back on (and with my 24-70 VR, “Off” is in the opposite direction to my other Nikkor lenses, and without glasses it’s quite difficult to find the middle “Normal” position). If turning off is important with AF-P lenses, I assume the cameras are set to do this as part of their shut-down procedure. This would be very convenient and reassuring. But having read that these functions are controlled by the camera, I noticed that although the AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 G ED VR has no switches, the picture of the AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR shows 3-position AF and VR switches. Will the setting on a compatible camera override these switches?

    With thanks in advance,

  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I am a bit amazed you can hand-hold and get sharp images with a blacked out viewfinder, let alone a delay! Mirror slap tends to be associated with exposure times rather less than you would hand-hold. I suspect you are snatching as you take the shot. With a telephoto it is very easy to let the lens drop fractionally as you press the shutter release. One way to test this is take two shots in quick succession - that forces you to keep the camera on the subject.
  3. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    It doesn’t mean that I can keep my aim perfectly on target! But I checked, and focus seems to lock when I press the shutter button (the AF will be blacked out, like my view). So I still get a reasonable result with a stationary subject, but I wouldn’t like to have to use the lens like that all the time.

    I habitually bracket three exposures, which should help keep the camera on the subject, and highlights the jump in what I see through the viewfinder with that lens during the shooting period. I know the camera does tend to shift while I’m shooting, although with other lenses I notice more rotation about the lens axis than anything else. That’s one reason why I didn’t investigate the problem sooner. But although I only took a few shots with the 1 s delay, I'm now pretty sure the improvement shows the mirror is the main problem, rather than my technique.

  4. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Very strange. I always thought mirror slap was a problem with some set-ups on a tripod that had resonant frequencies in a certain range that the mirror could excite and that if it occurred it was mainly noticeable for exposure times between 1/15 and 1 s. Hence mirror lockup as a mitigating action.
  5. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The sharper picture with the mirror locked up may be due to you having a delay to improve the steadiness of your hold, rather than anything to do with the mirror itself. Camera shake is imho a more likely cause of unsharpness than anything else, especially with longer focal lengths. Mirror slap is potentially a drawback of all SLR cameras, whether film or digital, but effects are minimal at higher shutter speeds, where camera shake can still occur, the latter is often self-denied by users methinks.
  6. cliveva

    cliveva Well-Known Member

    Using a D800, I have found I need to use much shorter exposures than the normal( i.e. 1/00@100mm), to get sharp shots, hand-held.
    I had never heard that you have to switch the VR off before switching the camera off. I use 3 VR lens' with no apparent problems, switching it on and off, frequently during a day out.
    I am a bit puzzled why you would want to use DX lens on a FX body by choice rather than necessity.
  7. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    OP stated to add versatility with minimum weight.
  8. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    When the D800 was release Nikon did warn shooters that with the increase in pixel you will see camera shake maybe previous shooting at low pixel count did not pick up on. :)

    Just as with all technology VR improves on newer lens.

    The focal length against shutter speed is a rough guide. I very much depends on the shooter, the balance, weight etc of camera used.

    I am sure a lot bird shooters use mono pods. Same as airshow shooter, especially with a FF camera because the lenses are longer and heavier.

    This is a further support for mirrorless cameras. :p LOL
  9. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I’m aware that my hands are rather shaky, and take that, focal length and shutter speed into account when assessing the results I get from the lens. I expected the blackout from using Exposure Delay to increase my shake rather than reduce it, but given the general scepticism that my problems are due to mirror slap, I think I need to do more extensive checks to try to clarify whether I’m seeing mirror slap or just camera shake.

  10. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I’d be surprised if you didn’t find it in the manuals for your lenses - it’s there for all four of my VR Nikkors, and my OS Sigma. I now take the warning seriously. I wrote off my Tamron 24-70mm when I hung my camera bag on the coat hook on a WC cubicle door, and it slid off and fell straight to the floor. My Nikkor 55-500mm and one of my VR Nikkor macro lenses (with VR Off) and my non-stabilized Sigma 8-16mm were all filter-down on the bottom of the bag in lens pouches, and my Tamron in the same orientation, with the D800 mounted (VC On, but camera Off), not in a pouch. The only damage was to the Tamron’s VR unit. It might have been because the lens pouches gave added protection to the lighter lenses, it might have been because the Tamron’s VC unit was inherently less robust, but, so far as I know, it might have been because switching off VR parks the units in some protected position.

  11. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I’m well aware of Nikon’s warnings for the D800. But I bought my Nikkor 55-500mm with a D90, at a time when almost all Nikon DSLRs were 12 MPx. My D800 is 15 MPx with the Auto DX Crop, not much more demanding than 12 MPx APS-C, and today’s DX Nikons are mainly 24 MPx.

    Just what I’ve been thinking, although I prefer an optical viewfinder. I noticed on DPReview discussion of Sony’s efforts to reduce shutter shock to get the best out of the a7RII, but better electronic shutters would solve that problem.

  12. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    That's the worst case scenario; however mirror slap is a risk with all moving mirror cameras, but the amount of damping makes a big difference. Mirror slap is primarily a matter of kinetic energy, with resonance really a secondary problem. Bigger mirrors are thus worse than smaller ones, also cameras with a higher mirror speed. Canon, for instance, have done a lot of work on mirror damping and controlled deceleration. Typically, handholding also provides a degree of damping - and using bigger, heavier lenses also does as well, in most cases.
    Worst camera I have for mirror slap is the Pentax 67 - forget hand holding it at slower speeds (well above 1/15) without mirror lock-up.
  13. IvorCamera

    IvorCamera Well-Known Member

    I have a D800 and the problem I found with it is if you are not using top quality lenses with it you are not going to get the best out of it, I only have four lenses and the shorter they are the better the results.
  14. cliveva

    cliveva Well-Known Member

    Having reread the manual, the only reference to powering down the camera is,
    "Do not turn the camera off or remove the lens from the camera while vibration reduction is operating."
  15. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    Would this not be difficult to manage in reality? Given that the VR only operates when the shutter release is pressed it is unlikely that it could happen.
  16. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    I think if you have continuous AF engaged the VR will function even when your finger is not on the shutter button - probably why it is recommended that the camera is turned off for a lens change, to guarantee that the lens is not being powered when it's removed from the body
  17. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I take "Do not turn the camera off or remove the lens from the camera while vibration reduction is operating." to mean that VR should be switched off before turning the camera off or removing the lens from the camera.

    The instructions for my Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM state:

    Be sure to turn of OS switch to OFF position, before attaching or detaching the lens to the camera.

    The Optical Stabilizer continues to operate after you release your finger from the shutter button, as long as the exposure meter displays the exposure value. Never remove the lens or remove the camera’s battery while the image stabilizer is operating, you could damage the lens.”​

    Lousy English in the first paragraph, but at least it’s clear, except with regard to just switching the camera off rather than removing the battery. Later Sigma states “If the camera power is turned off or lens is detached while the Optical Stabilizer function is in operation, the lens may emit a chattering noise, but this is not a malfunction.

    Nikon should use less ambiguous wording in their lens manuals!

  18. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I thought a key reason for switching off power before a lens change is to reduce static charges that might attract dust to the sensor.

  19. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    The discussion was whether the lens stabiliser should also be expliciltly turned off using the switch on the lens before removing it from the camera. I don't have a Nikon but, as a matter of course, I do turn the camera off when changing lenses. I'd guess that if the camera is turned on, there is a chance to activate stabilisation if the AF control is nudged during handling. I would expect that the stabilisation mechanism has an auto-park position which locks it against vibration in carriage and the concern is to prevent the lens being powered down before the moving elements are locked in place. The older stabilised lenses do operate their stabilisation for a little while after activation and one post above suggests that at least one lens/camera has stabilisation operating continuously if the camera is on and set to continuous AF.
  20. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Yes, this thread has wandered into a discussion of whether the lens stabilizer switch should be turned off prior to removal or powering down the camera. But IvorETower’s comment was that disengaging image stabilization was “probably why it is recommended that the camera is turned off for a lens change”. Both Nikon and Sigma lens manuals seem to state (although this far from clear) that stabilization should be switched off at the lens before powering down the camera or removing the lens. If this was done, subsequently turning off the camera would have no influence on the lens stabilizer. Like IvorETower, I believe it is recommended that the camera should be turned off for a lens change (whether the lens is stabilized or not), but I believe a key reason for that is to reduce static charges that might attract dust to the sensor.


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