Mirror Slap - D2x, F5 and F6

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by anthony_valvo, Oct 14, 2006.

  1. Recently picked up a D2x and in use had this nagging feeling that the precision
    I see in my film SLRs just was not there. The camera functions fine, but it
    seemed to me that it was not as smooth as the F5 or F6. So I set up a little test.

    I took my 400mm 3.5 and 1.4X converter and set it up on a tripod. I then I
    connected the F5 and later the F6 to it. With a cable release I carefully
    watched(and felt) several exposures and the resultant vibrations from shutter
    speeds at 1/60 to 1/20 on each camera . Lastly, I removed the converter (to
    account for the narrower field of the D2x) and performed the same test.
    Otherwise, the D2x would have been penalized, as vibrations would be more
    visible at higher magnification.

    Here are the results:

    - F5 had the least vibrations - probably due to its greater mass
    - F6 was a very close second
    - D2x was the worst of the bunch.

    Now, what surprises me here is that the film cameras are moving larger mirrors
    and presumably shutter mechanisms, yet the they were quieter and smoother.
    Photo tests confirmed all this. The D2x delivered critically sharp images with
    MLU, but otherwise it was hit and miss (mostly miss). The film cameras were
    much more consistent at slower speeds an delivered sharper results on slide film.

    What does all this tell us. Well, use the MLU on a D2x, and hope that Nikon's
    next camera incorporates the F5/F6 mirror and shutter mechanics.

    Anthony Valvo
     
  2. Is this a problem?
     
  3. Its not a problem, just an observation. I would have expected the D2x to be at least as good as an F6
     
  4. The D2x is as quiet as my F5, and better damped. The slight vibrations you might feel are when the mirror returns. In both, the shutter makes more noise than the mirror. Just my $0.02.
     
  5. You did not mention that if you increase the shutter speed by increasing the ISO this problem of mirror slap goes away. I have found that the 80-400 at 400 will not be affected if you use VR at those shutter speeds. Interesting that the F5 and the F6 have greater mass. My D2hs comes in around 3lbs. and with the 80-400 it goes around 6lbs. Does the F5-6 use batteries in a motor drive to get that greater mass?
     
  6. What is the weight of each camera without lens?
     
  7. "The D2x is as quiet as my F5, and better damped. The slight vibrations you might feel are when the mirror returns. In both, the shutter makes more noise than the mirror. Just my $0.02"

    That's not born out by my tests. If were just mirror return, it would not show up in photos, and it clearly does.
     
  8. You do not mention your tripod. It may be a vibrating gizmo to the hilt. Some tripods damp/absorb vibrations, others increase/resonate like crazy.

    ALWAYS think of ALL the variables in a scientific test. I would get a better tripod if I were you ... since I suspect the culprit is the "legs".

    The F6 has the best damped mirror of all SLRs, by the way. Your test points to the legs, since the higher weight F5 came out ahead of the known rankings.
     
  9. Quite simply, the image quality is better in the D2x than with an F5 and slide film, even the exalted Velvia. If anything, you are seeing problems that are simply obscured by the fuzz of 35mm film. The D2x is notoriously hard on lenses and technique.
     
  10. "You do not mention your tripod. It may be a vibrating gizmo to the hilt. Some tripods damp/absorb vibrations, others increase/resonate like crazy.

    ALWAYS think of ALL the variables in a scientific test. I would get a better tripod if I were you ... since I suspect the culprit is the "legs"."

    Tripod was a Gitzo 1325 and a Markins M20 Head. So its not the pod and its irrelevent anyway, since its the common element in the test. In fact, a less stable tripod would have shown these problems even more dramatically, but I don't own any cheap pods. If I can see visible vibration with this set-up as the mirror returns, you know its definately in the camera.

    "The F6 has the best damped mirror of all SLRs, by the way."

    Don't believe all the advertising you read. There are many things that go into the equation of a sharp photo. Maybe the mirror is better dampeded, maybe not. But even if so, I suspect the F5s greater size and weight helped it to absorb vibration better.


    "Quite simply, the image quality is better in the D2x than with an F5 and slide film, even the exalted Velvia. If anything, you are seeing problems that are simply obscured by the fuzz of 35mm film. The D2x is notoriously hard on lenses and technique."

    Ultimate, quality was not the test. However, I'll point out again that both Film SLRs showed sharp detail in the slides; detail that was clearly obscured by mirror slap in the D2x. With MLU all the cameras were sharp again. I know the D2x is hard on lenses, so is Velvia and films like EFKE 25. That's why I developed good technique and tested equipment long before the D2x was even invented.

    Sorry, if the test hurt feelings, I thought some people might actually be interested. There is no need to defend any of the cameras. They all do things well, in their own way. I've found weaknesses in all tools. Its how I learn to work around them that counts. That's why I thought some would have an interest.

    Anthony
     
  11. While there is no possibility of getting any of those cameras, I found useful your comments. Thanks!
     
  12. The D2x is notoriously hard on lenses and technique. ...>>
    In what way(s) ?
    thanks -
     
  13. Mirror Slap

    All Nikons do the mirror slap thing, the way it is. Jeez, they would not be Nikons....Wow, would you really want a Canon? ugly, big and dripping with plastic metal....with white, in your face, ugly lenses!

    Perish the thought....Jeez, save me from the cruel perils of being a Canon 3 month upgrade gear head with a white lens of purity. Ouch.
     
  14. Don't tell me, let me guess, the pros use them. Let's be honest, they would use a banana skin if the price was right.

    It's about the coin, nothing else.
     
  15. Michael,

    The acuity (sharpness) of the D2x is very high to about 80 lp/mm, closer in quality to medium format than 35mm. If a lens has chromatic aberation, or is soft at the edges, you will see it in the image. If the tripod is a little shaky, or you don't use a shutter release cable, you will see doubling in the image at slower shutter speeds (<1/60). Color film starts to get soft at about 20 lp/mm due to scattering in the emulsion, and the contrast (MTF) is very low at 80 lp/mm for normal subjects.
     
  16. Edward, take a look at the resolution charts for Tech Pan, Kodachrome 25, Ektar 25, or Panatomic-X sometime. As I recall it, K25 was rated for 360 ll/mm. "scattering in the emulsion" indeed, methinks that you've bought into some marketing flak trying to explain why current 35mm films are JUNK. The simple truth is that all of these films were very SLOW and nearly unusable in the zoom lens point and shoot cameras that exploded in popularity durng the 80's. Kodak couldn't sell these films in volume so they stopped making them. However, I think that history will show that K25 was the greatest film ever made, period. I also think that K25 used with proper technique with a really great lens could make your D2x results look like a P&S in comparison.

    Of course, since it would take something like a 48x72 inch print to properly show the difference, it really doesn't matter to most of us. Just remember there was a time when you could buy films at the corner store that could put today's digital to shame. Heck, Ansel Adams used to shoot the original Kodachrome on the 4x5 format. Think about how big you could print from that, it blows the mind.

    PS, I like digital. For color work it totally smokes what is available on todays film market. However, I have spent to many years in the darkroom and still remember the magic of examining a Panatomic-X negative with a grain magnifier. Of all the films ever made, that is the film that I miss the most.
     
  17. The MTF rolloff begins at 30 lp/mm for Tech Pan (ISO 25), as shown on Kodak's publish technical data. Even Les Sarile's tests show the D2x is sharper than 35mm Tech Pan. No one in their wildest dreams would rate K25 at 360 lp/mm. I prefer science over fantasies.
     
  18. Here is a link to Les Sarile's Tech Pan comparision. Judge for yourself.

    http://www.fototime.com/ftweb/bin/ft.dll/detailfs?userid={DB62658B-ABF8-465C-A4D2-DADCCE1C253C}&ndx=45&slideshow=0&AlbumId={F5BF868F-7CE4-4416-846B-55162EF4B5C5}&GroupId=&screenheight=1024
     
  19. "If anything, you are seeing problems that are simply obscured by the fuzz of 35mm film."

    I would also bet on this.

    "Feeling" the vibration is not a good way to evaluate it. Not a little precise.

    It is harder to take a very sharp picture with the D2x, but when you get it, it's sharper than film.
     
  20. Edward wrote:

    << ... If a lens has chromatic aberation, or is soft at the edges, you will see it ... >>

    Thanks for responding. I had a selfish reason for asking:

    While the size, weight, and price of a D2x will keep me from being a customer for that camera, I am considering moving from a D70 to one of the 10 mpxl cameras, most likely a D80 or D200, because I'd like the better viewfinder and presumably better photo quality.

    I don't own pro-level lenses and don't plan to buy them. I shoot hand-held and am far from the steadiest photographer on my block, which I should point out has only 4 houses :)

    Will a D80/D200 or other similar 10 mpxl camera similarly lay bare all my weaknesses, principally and most importantly in technique, but secondarily in gear ?

    thanks again -
     
  21. Michael,

    That's a legitimate question, and the answer is "perhaps". The D2x does not exaggerate problems, just makes them more visible. You have to look pretty close to see the difference. The resolution and clarity of the D200 and D80 sensors are pretty close to that of the D2x. If you are satisfied with the results you are getting now, nothing is going to hit you in the face with a D200. At worst, you will have the nagging feeling that you could do better. That feeling gets expensive in photography and golf ;-) The cheapest and most effective solution is to get a good tripod and use it.
     
  22. Thanks. The tripod recommendation is a good one, I know, but perhaps impractical for me. The walk-around, candid, people snaps are the photos I enjoy most. A number of mine are not just hand-held, but also waist level. Often, I'm close to the subject.
    I realize that I'm trading sharpness, more careful framing, and better exposures in these situations, but I just like 'em. :)
     
  23. 400/3.5 and the D2X is a notoriously bad combination. Hardly surprising you get "poor" images out of it. So do I and I use a much better tripod/head system than you describe. On the other hand, with the F5 or the Fuji S3Pro UVIR, the 400/3.5 performs nicely. Its old optical design has flaws that are mercilessly exposed by D2x (and D200). Put on the 200/2VR and your conclusions would be different.

    The vibration in these cameras come from the counterweight on the mirror. Its stored energy is released when the mirror swings back, after the shutter has closed.
     
  24. As to your comment about the mirror counter balance storing energy and vibrating the camera I have noticed when shooting hand held with a D2hs in a burst mode of 3 in a row that the 80-400VR at 400 is sharp in the first exposure and blurred in the 2nd and not so blurred in the 3rd. Yet when I experience blurred images on the first shot and increase my shutter speed to say 1/1000 the first shot is sharp. So that would point me towards the mirror not being the culprit if the mirror only vibrated after the shutter closed. My VR 1/15 at 400 are sharp 75% of the time. I make the assumption that I am at fault there.
     
  25. Boy, people will just go to all kinds of lengths to justify their purchase. Chromatic Ab., Camera Lens Combo, Tripods, Viewing vibrations not a good measure. etc.

    Lets go over this again:

    1) Its not an obtical issue - I can get perfectly sharp and clear images with the D2x, if I use MLU - I know what mirror slap looks like.

    2) Its not the tripod - the tripod is a common element in the test for all cameras. Its simply a matter of vibration amplitude, not weather or not its present.

    3) I don't care about theoretical resolution. I care about practical resolution and results under real world conditions. Net - net the film cameras performed better in this regard, which means they yielded more consistently sharp images when not using MLU at slow speeds. Of course, the D2X yielded sharper images with MLU, but you must know to use it in order to get that quality.

    Lets get on with it folks. I own both Digital and Film cameras and use what works for a given situation. I laid out my cash for a D2x like everyone else. Its still a great camera, but if you want to get the most out of it then pay attention, and learn to work around the issues.

    Anthony
     

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