Minimum Shutter Speed for Hand Held Shooting

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by masuro, Oct 20, 2006.

  1. I know that when I use a 50mm lens on my Nikon FM3a I should select a shutter
    speed of at least 1/60 of a second for hand held shooting. My new Contax 645
    is much heavier so would I need to have a minimum shutter speed of 1/90 of a
    second when using the 80mm lens? Or could I go a little slower? Or do I need
    to go faster?
  2. The 1/focal length is valid for MF too.
  3. 1/focal length might be a bit too simplistic for MF. A MF SLR needs a considerably faster shutter speed--especially if it has a big thumping FP shutter; a TLR or MF RF can usually be hand held at 1/the 35 mm equiv. of the focal length or even a stop slower.
  4. hmmm, with practice one can far exceed the 1/fl I routinely shoot a 180 2.8 handheld at 1/60th, sharp images too...

  5. I stick to the 1/focal length rule, so with an 80mm lens I'd use 1/125.
  6. Depends on the camera - some MF can be handheld below 1/60th, others need the 1/125.
    Depends on weight, strap, shutter release, mirror or not, etc.

    The best way to know is to get a roll of film in there and test it.
  7. I suppose it all depends on how still you can stand. I once saw a guy shoot at 501 CM with a
    100mm lens at 1/2 second handheld. Wasn't something I could do, but the negative was
    pretty sharp. I can do an 80 at about an 1/8th, but it's not in my comfort zone. I don't
    usually go beneath 1/30 for any lens.


    You can either listen to all the old fogies or you can say f-it to the rules and step outside the
    box. It's only film, after all.
  8. Thank you all for your replies. I guess I will stick to 1/90 or 1/125 when I want to be safe and try to use a tripod at all times. It would also be interesting to take a few test shots to see how low I can go before losing sharpness.
  9. The minimum shutter speed is 1/1,000,000 sec., or there abouts.<br>The next question is how much image degradation, caused by handholding, are you willing to accept. You will obviously get more at 1/8 than at 1/8000. The choice is up to you.
  10. It really depends on the design of the camera and the lens. As others have said, the MF
    are more difficult to handhold largely because they are usually awkward to hold and have
    large mirrors with a lot of vibration. The Contax 645 that you mention is a lot better
    designed for handholding, and I would think you could get 1/60th to 1/30th with the
    lens. When I shot the Contax, that is what I remember. Of course, a higher shutter speed
    usually improve sharpness, but 1/60th with the 80mm should be ok for most uses. With
    something like a Mamiya 7II, I have been able to get 1/15th with sharp results and even
    1/8th on occasion with the 43mm lens but that comes from the rangefinder design with
    vibration, a nice ergonomic grip and the fact that the camera is rather light. The Contax
    645 also has a very nice grip, but it is much heavier than the Mamiya 7, has a mirror, and
    the way the prism sticks out it makes it harder to stabalize the camera against your face
    (you would poke yourself in the eye).
  11. Q.G. does your rule hold for the swc as well or can I simply shoot hand held at 1/500,000 if I get a swc ?

    While a tripod and prerelease is my prefered method of shooting, I have shot with a 250 at 1/250 and 1/500 with results acceptable for the purposes, which would have also been served by my nikon f2 had one of my children not absconded with it.
  12. That Mamiya 7 system has slow lenses but is still usefull in reasonably low light because its a leaf shutter system. No only that but as an RF it has no mirror. Now some rangefinders like Leicas have focal plane shutters so as to allow faster lens designs but focal plane shutters are not as vibration free as leaf shutters. Also leaf shutter can x sync at all shutter speeds. This makes the Mamiya 7 maybe 2 stops more hand holdable without flash and easy to stop ghosting when using flash since the sync speed is higher than most MF focal plane slrs. Also, remember that as opposed to 645 cameras the M7 uses larger 6x7 film and so you can use higher speed film since the enlargements are not blown up as much to reach the print size where film grain might be easily seen.
  13. Shoot your own tests with your cameras and see what works for YOU.<BR><BR>. This is what really matters. <BR><BR>Shoot many shots, its statistical.<BR><BR> Its like playing golf or shooting hoops, or shooting a BB gun, practice allows better control. <BR><BR>The other chap may have the shakes, jerk the camera while pressing the shutter, or only base his/her answers on a sample of one or two shots. <BR><BR>The answer also depends on the enlargement too. An old 4x5 speed graphic can be hand held at 1/30 second with a 127mm lens for a press newspaper shot, since the enlargement maybe just none, a contact print or maybe just 2x. <BR><BR>The 1/focal length "rule" is just a starting point. Here I can hand hold a Leica M or zorki at lower speeds than a Nikon F.<BR><BR>With lower shutter speeds one gets a lower "yield" in acceptable non blurred shots. Its like shooting hoops, one gets a lower "yield" at half court than at the foul line.:) There is NO hard fast shutter speed where all shots magically are blured, and the one shutter speed quicker all are good. <BR><BR>Most folks are afraid to experiment, and would rather "talk" about that 1/f rule than shoot some actual tests. Its like discussing how well one can shoot a basketball, instead of actually shooting the ball.<BR><BR>Actual blur will tend to follow the motion of the camera, one can pan with the action, shoot many shots, to get more keepers. Like a basketball game it is better to be shooting, than pondering while the clock is running down.
  14. Like basketball too you might have a lower Yield while at the foul line than a shot during the game. Likewise your test can be so formal that one is not natural and has more shake.
  15. I shot a test roll recently with my Mamiya 645 1000s, to see how slow I could go. Shot a couple of control exposures on a tripod with mirror-up, and then shot the same subject handheld at a variety of speeds. All using the standard 80mm lens.

    The results were about what I expected. At 1/125th of a second, the HH exposures were indistinguishable from the tripod mounted shots. At 1/60th there was also very little difference. At 1/30th, 2 out of 3 shots were sharp, and one very slightly blurred, but useable. The one shot that I did at 1/15th of a second (just for giggles) was a total disaster - unacceptably blurred.

    Anyway, what this taught me was that camera vibration didn't play much part in whether the picture was sharp or not, since some shots taken at 1/30th of a second were as sharp as at 125th. It basically comes down to your natural personal ability to hold things still, coupled with the learned skill of controlling your breathing, etc.

    The 1/focal-length rule only applies to 35mm. The amount of blur on film, with any given angular displacement of the camera during exposure, is geared to the focal-length. BUT as a proportion of the negative, it has less effect with a larger format than with a smaller one. The two balance out, and the nett effect is that larger formats are affected by shake just as much, or as little, as small cameras.
    The effect of shake is dependent on the magnification ratio, rather than the actual focal length of lens used.
  16. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    The 1/focal length "rule" is just a starting point
    It's not even that. It's an arbitrary figure that nobody hs ever proved works, especially for different people, different cameras, different techniques, different states of mind. Even a cup of coffee can have a dramatic impact. I imagine some Valium might have the opposite result.
    The only "rule" should be that you need to do your own tests, and even then, be aware of changing conditions in you and the world around you, and your equipment.
  17. Jeff; I really only heard of this "rule" in the mid 1960's, it was called a starting point to do experiments with; when folks got their first 135mm lens on their 35mm slr. Older 1940's and 1950's photobooks often mentioned to use a tripod below 1/25 second.

    In the classical early 1950's Feiningers Workshop series in Popular Photography magazine he had a couple of columns about testing ones ability to shoot decent handheld images with lower shutter speeds, and to do actual tests. Doing actual tests was encouraged in the 1950's, and not asking others only

    .In the mostly my pre Nikon F days the Exakta bookletes called "camera shake" an "unpleasant effect".

    In the words of the author Wernur Wurst In Dresden Germany in 1960 about the Exakta 35mm slr system camera:

    Camera Shake

    is an unplesant effect, spoiling many a beautiful picture. It happens mainly with hand-held exposures: the camera is moved excessively during exposure due to trembling of the hands or slight swaying of the body. These pictures show blured or muliple images of all objects intead of sharply defined contours. You should test your own steadiness and firm handling in the same way you check your equipment. Clear-cut rules valid for all camera users are impossible to establish as they depend largely on personal factors. During the exposure your legs should be planted firmly apart, and if possible the breath kept. With longer instantaneous shutter speeds (1/30, perhaps even 1/8 or 1/4 sec) a firm support should be sought, or the camera propped firmly against a tree or wall. Above all, no fidgeting! To keep absolutely still is essential. With long-focal length lenses only short exposures are possible without a tripod, such as:"

    up to 100mm focal length or less 1/30 second

    up to 200mm focal length or less 1/60 second

    up to 300mm focal length or less 1/125 second

    above 300mm focal length use a tripod only

    unless a pistol grip is used. However, camera-shake can occur when a tripod is use on vibrating ground, e.g. in factories with heavy machinery, in street traffic etc. The only way here is postponement of photographic activities or the use of electronic flash where possible"

    From Wernur Wurst in the Exakta Manual in 1960.
  18. In the Kodak "This is Photography" classical book of 1945, its states:

    Next to inaccurate focus for close-ups, the commonest source of trouble for most amateurs is camera shake - a movement of the camera, as the shutter is tripped, which results in loss of precise detail throughout the picture.

    Two preventives are respectfully offered.

    First, learn to handle your camera so that the shutter is worked by one finger, trigger fashion, while other fingers and all of the hand work together to hold the camera steady. Stand firmly, legs apart; give the camera support not only with your hands, but with your body; if you're using an eyelevel finder, snuggle the camera up against your cheek bone.

    The second preventive is to use sufficient shutter speed. Even the average care with minatures you'll need 1/100 and, for most folding Kodak cameras, 1/50.

    Minatures means 35mm and 828/Bantum, a 28x40mm format. Kodak Folders means 620 and 616 folders, ie medium format in todays lingo.

    In Kodaks "How to make good pictures" of 1951, it states :

    For exposures longer than 1/50 second, a solid camera support is desirable. . .

    In theNikon F Nikkormat Handbook of Photography in 1968, Joseph D. Cooper & Joseph C. Abbott state in chapter 4 Selection and Use of Nikkor Lenses, under telephotos lens chapter:

    A rule of thumb is that the longest hand-held exposure should be the reciprocal of the focal length to the nearest shutter setting.

    This "rule" was stressed as a starting point for ones own experiments, in the late 1960's Nikon school I attended, taught by a few National Geographic Nikon F users. Its only a starting point for doing ones own statistical tests. Another quote ffrom 1968 is "Finally, the risks of hand-held tele shots call for insurance through multiple exposures"

    The scatter in ones test results needs to be stressed, and doing ones own tests to see what works. Before WW2 folks used Rollei TLR to shoot sports. It was marketed as a sports camera, where one often panned with the auction when one was forced to use a slow shutter speed.

    In High school I used a TLR and a Exakta 35mm for sports.
  19. My thoughts about the "RULE" is its just a starting point, simple canned answer for folks who need some guidance, and for folks who dont like to experiment. As more folks got 35mm slrs in the 1960's with their typical starter first telephoto 135mm lens, they needed a dumb rule to not get them in trouble.<BR><BR>In High school I used a Aero Ektar 178mm F2.5 in Exakta 35mm slr mount sometimes with a marble/beanbag for slower exposures. My lens has a tripod mount. With a super slow shutter and a el-cheapo zillion segment brass tripod, one would get a rock/blur with he first mode of vibration.<BR><BR><BR>
  20. </i>Italics?
  21. Aha!<br>Closing tags, people, don't forget the closing tags!
  22. zml


    The only rule is - use tripod whenever and wherever you can. Just critically compare a pic made handheld at 1/125s with a tripd-made one at the same shutter speed. Chances are, you'll see a lot of difference...
  23. Q.G. de Bakker; the post I did had its italics closed, as viewed with Mozilla. Where did you see the italics not closed?
  24. The italics I used are for direct quotes from actual photo reference materials.

    The usage of italics for direct quotes of anothers work is normal in scientific journals. The words in italics are NOT my own, but of the referenced author(s).

    I thought this type of referencing was widely known.

    My clients that I have written technical articles require this, plus better wording than a quick web thread reply. The usage of italics for quotes is real ancient. The "style" of where it italics is used varies with the journal, magazine, editor, country, college. Some clients frown on more than XX words being in italics. Instructions to authors for writing an article varies alot. There are as many styles with using italics as there are bellybutton types. If one presses an editor that your way is correct, you might not get the article published.

    For this thread I used Italics for direct quotes out of the actual photo books I referenced about the topic of this thread "Minimum Shutter Speed for Hand Held Shooting".

    The purpose of this thread is about minmum shutter speeds, not the style of italics each person likes or doesnt like.
  25. Don't forget the monopod either!
    It's more portable, and therefore more likely to actually get used than a tripod, and can make possible shots that would almost certainly be ruined by camera shake if just handheld.
  26. Kelly,

    I'm not disputing the use of italics. I use them myself.
    But everything (!) following your "oct 22, 2006; 03:03 p.m." post was rendered in italics. So obviously a closing tag was missing, no matter what Mozilla thinks... ;-)
    I put a single closing tag in my "Italics?" post, and that indeed had the desired effect.
  27. Kelly,

    You put a nested, second opening tag in the "In the Nikon F Nikkormat Handbook of Photography in 1968 [...] In High school I used a TLR and a Exakta 35mm for sports.", bit. Right before ""Finally [...]".
    You closed the nested one, but left the other one wide open.
  28. What I was thought and learn'ed back in the 70's [1/125 sec] was the slowist to shoot a 6x6 with and I will still adhear to that rule unless I am using a tripod:::: Lauren

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