Lemaire Channel, Antarctica. Phase One XF 150MP with Schneider Kreuznach LS 55mm lens, f4.5 @ 1/800 second, ISO 50. Shooting from a ship, you’re always hand-holding your camera, so good technique is very important as you fire the shutter release.
It might seem to be an obvious suggestion, but you should be careful about how you physically hold the camera when you take the photo. Don’t press the shutter button too strongly because you risk ‘shaking’ the camera during the exposure. Keep the camera as still as possible for the conditions you’re working in.
The same principles we discussed previously for keeping the camera still during exposure apply, but there are other issues at work. If your camera uses a mechanical shutter of some kind, then it can introduce internal camera shake. DSLR and medium format cameras with a mirror box are prime candidates for mirror vibration. As the mirror flips up to allow the photo to be taken, it hits the inside of the camera body and creates vibration – which in turn can produce a blurred image with shutter speeds of 1/250 second or slower.
To solve this, use the mirror lock-up control and wait a few seconds (so the vibrations can die away) before taking the photo. Two seconds is probably not enough, 10 seconds is usually more than required.
A cable release or remote control will allow you to fire the camera without creating camera shake. Another technique is to use the self-timer on your camera. This allows the mirror to flip up and the vibrations to die away before the shutter is opened.
Mirrorless cameras obviously don’t have a mirror arrangement, but like DSLRs, they still have a focal plane shutter which can create detail-killing vibration. This is unlikely to be a problem with smaller format DSLR and mirrorless cameras, but can be an issue with very high resolution sensors on medium format cameras when using telephoto lenses.
One solution is to use a very fast shutter speed so the vibrations don’t get a chance to blur the photo. However, we can’t always set fast shutter speeds and so the solution may be to switch to the electronic shutter.
When you use the electronic shutter on a camera, there are no moving parts and so no chance of internal vibrations. As long as you use a remote release or the self-timer on a tripod, you should be assured of a completely vibration free exposure. (However, the electronic shutter has other challenges and may not be suitable for all subjects, especially those with significant movement.)
Interestingly, the Phase One XF has a vibration sensor setting. After the shutter button is pressed, a sensor in the camera body waits until all camera vibrations have disappeared before firing the shutter. Ingenious!