Mirror Lockup & Macro a Marriage made in Heaven

Fungi © Dave Cracknell 2011

I tried an experiment today in overall photo sharpness. I knew the answer before I started but I wanted to show my readers a practical example of why I do what I do. This Fungi is growing on one of the trees in my backyard. Its in the shade under a shrub and to get this photo I had to squeeze my tripod, and camera into a tight spot.

Whenever I shoot a macro shot I will always put my camera on a tripod. This way I can use the Live View to manual focus on my subject at the exact point I wish. I always use the Mirror Lockup function on the camera and use either a wired remote or wireless remote & the self timer. I take every precaution I need to take a sharp image. But what would have happened if I hadn’t taken these steps. Below is a series of images that  I took with just that situation in mind. Click on the image below to see the detail difference. The first image is the one used in the opening photo. The opening photo has been imported into Lightroom Cropped and Tweaked then “Cleaned” in Photoshop (you’ll see why when you enlarge both). The images below have had the same Lightroom treatment but the Photoshopping is limited to the layout, text & logo.

Fungi Macro Demo © Dave Cracknell 2011

Here is the camera setup. Canon 7D + Canon 100mm f2.8 USM Macro, AV mode set to f11, 200 ISO and WB set to Daylight. Camera chose .3 second as the shutter speed. The camera was mounted to a Manfrotto 055 Pro tripod and the new Manfrotto 327RC2 Pistol Grip head via my own designed L Bracket. Mirror Lockup Mode was activated (C.FnIII 13) and Self Timer turned on. I used a Canon RC6 to activate the timer. The idea behind the Mirror Lockup is to elliminate the vibration from the mirror slapping the prism just before the shutter opens. The self timer allows enough delay between the Mirror moving and the shutter opening to steady the camera from the Mirror Slap.

The second photo was handheld using the identical settings. You’ll notice the camera shake and the lack of contrast/colour resulting from the blurryness. I did everything to reduce the shake. I leant against the fence, supported my elbows and held my breath. There is no way to hand hold at .3 sec and get a sharp image. The last photo I changed the the ISO to 1600 ISO and opening the aperture to f4.0 to get a shutter speed of  125th sec. You can clearly see that I have sacrificed Depth of Focus to achieve a usable shutter speed. Macro photography requires a technique that’s almost an art form in itself. It takes patience and a set plan to succeed.

There are also many tricks and tips to learn to help get that sharp image. I learnt something else today, I need to add a small paintbrush into my kit, to help elliminate dog hair & dust rather than Photoshopping the offending doggy parts. Now you know why I had to “clean” the image in Photoshop. Good luck with your macro. If you want to learn more Adrian & I have a Mini Macro Workshop coming up on the 14th March (See sidebar for details). Might see you there.

Happy Shooting


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