Silly VR question

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by marklcooper, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. I often take photos looking out the back door of my office. I have the 70-200 f/2.8 VR1 mounted on my D300. I usually have the lens hood pressed up against the window, looking out over the pond out back. This is not on a tripod, but it is sort-of stabilized against the window. Should I have VR on or off?
  2. The lens hood is a petal type. It would work better this way with a round lens shade.
    Little Better to take the hood off, and press the lens against the window. You will get sturdier lens and more contrasty pictures since there will be no room light to sneak-in throught the petal hood cut out opennings.
    The hood is made of thin plastic, and does not provide stabilization of a tripod.
    Pressing the lens or hood is to reduce/prevent any window glass reflexion, and less as a sturdy camera suport.
    Use faster shutter speeed, and/or higher ISO, turn the VR Off if conditions allow.
    Enhance the picture in post processing.
  3. Sort of stabilized isn't really stable... my guess is VR is still a benefit. So, I'd leave VR on, unless shutterspeeds are high enough.
  4. Wouter - I have a tendency to keep my ISO as close as possible to the D300's base ISO 200. So, it's a juggling act between ISO and shutterspeed.
    I've kept VR on so far, but thought I'd post the question to the list.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I usually have the lens hood pressed up against the window, looking out over the pond out back.​
    Mark, you don't want to shoot through window glass. Its quality is far worse than the cheapest optical filter you can get for your lens.
  6. The difference between freehand and butting against the window is the (potential) vibration frequency.
    A properly handheld camera tends to produce higher frequency vibration from unsteady hands, the sort of vibration one might observe from an unsteady hand holding a cup of coffee.
    Anchoring the camera assembly at one end increasing the effective mass of the camera. The net effect is equivalent to the same unsteady hands holding a cinder block whereby any vibration frequency (system resonance) is dramatically reduced to an extent most likely out of the correction range of VR.
    So in this instance, I'd say it makes little difference whether VR is on or off.
  7. Shun,
    Shooting out the back window is a given. I've opened the door and the critters fly away. No other option. Period. The pond is only less than 100 ft from the back door. This was not a question about shooting through door glass....It is strictly a question of whether VR should be turned off or on.
    Michael - I appreciate your contribution. Putting the lens up against the window should increase the inertial mass (is that a real phrase??). The backend, the camera can still move with my breathing and heartbeat. It seems to me this is not the same situation as having a free-standing camera/lens combo on a tripod. VR seems like it should be a plus in this case.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Mark, there are definitely other ways. Study the bird's behavior and let them get used to you. If necessary, use a blind or something. I photograph birds all the time and I can count in one hand the number of times that I need to shoot through window glass, which is almost never for me.
    But that is beyond the scope of this thread.
  9. Mark, it's a tough question at a technical level unless one has a complete understanding of Nikon's VR design, so only Nikon can offer a definitive answer but it doesn't preclude us from speculating.
    My take on the VR design is that the lens-shift motors react in response to a 2-axis accelerometer (or tilt sensor) in the X-Y plane. The active frequency range is unknown to us, but we can probably reasonably assume it's effective to few tens of Hz covering the range of typical real-life handheld vibrations.
    The problem is we don't really know its low frequency behavior as your breathing might produce - whether the VR's lens-shift can compensate for slow(er) camera shift. One thing we can reasonably conclude, I think, is that by pressing against a window, the system's resonant frequency is reduced so you will be able to drop the shutter speed by the same factor.
  10. I read somewhere vr does little help, if not degrading the sharpness, once the shutter speed goes above 1/500. I would
    leave vr on for shutter under 1/500, and turn it off for anything faster
  11. Shun - this is a work situation! I'm not an avid bird photographer!
    Michael - as an electrical engineer I can relate to your response. I believe my 'induced' vibrations are well within the capabilities of the VR system. I was just out on a 'safari' at 'The Wilds' ( on a bus that was bouncing all over the place on dirt roads. I cranked up the ISO. I cranked down the aperture (f/2.8). I was able to get decent pics while almost banging my head against the ceiling.
    Rick - with my ISO, f-stop, and the hazy sky, I was shooting around 1/500. I've read that you don't want to go slower than 1/reach (drawing a blank on the terminology here). So 1/200, I was aiming for 1/500 sec or faster.
  12. If the front of the lens is right at and/or really close to the window, the imperfections of window glass may not make all that much difference. It would probably be a "good idea" to remove any additional filters such as protection or UV filters though. The more layers of glass in front, the worse.
    I have been walking as quietly as I could through woodland with my Moby Dick lens (Great White Lens), and noticed that birds and critters were fleeing a good 100m in front of me. Since I don't see that as much with black or khaki lenses, I'm wondering about the whole white lens thing -- maybe I need one of the camouflage covers? ;) At least human subjects only ask me if it's a rocket launcher.
  13. JDM - <VBG>
    The glass window is not very clear. That's a given. My question is about the VR.
  14. Leave the VR on, and take the hood off.
    I take a lot of images through glass (at hockey arenas) and find that increasing the contrast often improves the images when shot in this manner.
  15. with my ISO, f-stop, and the hazy sky, I was shooting around 1/500.(...) So 1/200, I was aiming for 1/500 sec or faster.​
    If you aim for 1/500 s or faster leave VR off as it will have a negative impact on IQ, as Rick already referred.
    Looking at the Exif of your picture you were using a slower speed so it wouldn't be a problem to have it on, but we could question if you really need the added support given by pressing the hood against the glass when you shoot at 1/249s with VR and an equivalent focal of 300 mm, unless you want to keep the lens distance to the glass at a minimum.
  16. Antonio - thanks for the response. I actually forgot to look at the EXIF data. The birds have a tendency to show up at dusk and dawn so normally I'm pushing the light envelope.
    You're thinking I should leave everything as-is, but not bump up against the window? I think I'm being a little anxious and trying to get as close to the critters as possible without going through the door...hence the pusing the lens up against the window.
    I'll try to step back an inch the next time and see what happens.
  17. Mark - I have no experience with your camera (my Nikon DSLRs were D70, D200 and now D700) but with similar lighting conditions you can also try to increase ISO a little bit (640 or even 800 wouldn't be a big problem, noise wise) and use Speed Priority, setting it at 1/500 if you want VR off or at 1/300 with VR on, in order to avoid aperture to open too much.
  18. My question is about the VR.​
    Oh, thought that was settled
    - definitely leave the VR on, unless it starts to "jitter" on you - which can be its way of telling you to shut it off. Presumably the building will keep the sun off the front of the lens.
  19. JDM - Sorry, the pond is due east of the back door. When there is morning bird/critter's facing due east. Right in to the sunrise.
    Kind of sucky. Because we are a construction company, our work day starts very early in the morning and extends late in to the evening. We have people walking along the sidewalk next to the pond from around 6:30 am 'til 7:00 pm.
    Thanks for the heads-up on the 'jittering.' That makes sense. If the VR can't focus, switch it off.

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