VR on Super-Tele (I don't get it!)

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rick waller, Aug 23, 2007.

  1. I shoot sideline sports and was on the verge of dropping $7.500 on a Nikon
    400/2.8. Now that the new one has arrived with VR - I need someone to explain
    to me how VR helps if a 400mm/2.8 lens is ALWAYS on either a monopod or a

    I am 6'1", 200 lb guy in good shape and I wouldn't dream of handholding that
    monster. Exactly why would I lust for VR on big glass??

    As I see it, it is a great opportunity to snap up a non-VR version at a reduced
    price, now that everyone else is going to race out an buy the VR version. What
    am I missing?
  2. A monopod isn't perfectly stable, so the VR should help there.

    I'm no upper-body monster, but I hand-held Canon's 400mm f/2.8 (which I'll bet is heavier than the Nikon) for a couple of hours (intermittently) recently. It was a chore, but doable.
  3. At higher magnification, even the slap of the mirror will cause vibration that's noticeable in the image. The tripod VR solves that problem.
  4. Not that I'm a professional, but this seems like a no-brainer to me. I see all sorts of "sideline shooters" with thier lenses mounted on monopods. Call me shakey, but I've never been able to get a good shot with a monopod. VR would be a huge advantage in this situation.
  5. As Geoff said, there are times when you won't be able or willing to use a tripod (at least
    that's the case for many of us). Besides the possibility of hand-holding, which I do
    routinely for shots of flying birds with a Canon 500/4 IS, you might be working from
    inside a vehicle -- a very good way to get wildlife shots. Or you might use a monopod for
    greater mobility.

    Even on a solid tripod, when you get down to moderate and low shutter speeds,
    stabilization is a great help. And if you are trying to track a moving subject, you can't
    'lock down' the tripod head for rigidity, and here again, a stabilized lens is a big help.

    This is very good news for Nikon owners interested in sports and wildlife photography.
  6. Who knows the new lens features? If it advices to turn Off the VR on a tripod, or even on a monopod, how that would work for you?

    Depending on the sport, you need to use much faster shutter speed to freeze the action. Older Nikon VR is best in range of 1/8 to 1/60 sec, so shooting sports like Chess Games, Arm Wrestling, Weight Lifting, perhaps would be appropriate to use.
  7. re: mirror slap. it is a non-factor in picture sharpness. it has been proven countless times that the slap only occurs after the image has been taken.

    re: monopod. anything that can help you steady yourself during photos is a plus. you didn't say if you shoot film or digital. if you shoot digital, then the chances of detectable movement increase even more. i've heard of people saying they can hand hold 400mm lenses and get sharp shots at speeds of 125th of a sec, but i'd bet most humans need the shutter speed to match the FL to get decent shots, so your 400 means that 1/600th of a sec is the "safe zone".

    i don't shoot monster lenses, but if i relied on them to make a living, i'd either get a camera with SR, or the lens that has it.
  8. Thanks to all for the interesting feedback. I am envious of those who can handhold the big guns.....I can't.

    As far as VR on the monopod/tripod - it is my understanding that the old VR (like on the 70-200) requires it to be off for tripod. Apparently the new version actually does work well on a mono/tripod.

    I guess I will have to give it some more thought.

    Thanks to all
  9. I assume the new lens uses VR II (second generation VR). This VR has 2 modes - Normal mode for hand-held movement, and Active mode for mechanical vibration. I'm not sure how sophisticated these modes are, but Active is intended for monopod/tripod use.
  10. I can hand hold a 400 2.8 but not for a whole football game. I do not know anyone who shoots with VR when photographing sports action. In most cases you are shooting at shutter speeds of 1/500 and higher to stop motion and VR or IS will not help you.
  11. I do not know anyone who shoots with VR when photographing sports action. In most cases you are shooting at shutter speeds of 1/500 and higher to stop motion and VR or IS will not help you.
    Lots of (probably most) pro sports photographers shoot with Canon IS teles and they use IS, even at high shutter speeds. So do lots (probably most) bird photographers these days (go to a place like the Bosque del Apache refuge in autumn and you will see probably 10-15 Canon superteles for every Nikon -- and they all use IS as well). Put simply, you are wrong to think that you don't benefit from stabilization at '1/500 or higher' if you are shooting with a big tele. In real life, it can help considerably -- even on a good tripod. My experience with a 500mm lens suggests that you need to be shooting above maybe 1/2000 or 1/2500 before the benefits of IS become negligable.
    As I said earlier, putting VR in the 'big glass' is very welcome news for Nikon afficionados. It's a pity (and a bit of a mystery) why they didn' do this years ago.
  12. Here's a paragraph from the Nikon press release that may be of interest. Note how they
    say "a tripod mode in the camera." I wonder if that's only the new D3?

    "These new super-telephoto lenses are equipped with Nikon?s VR II Vibration Reduction
    system that minimizes image blur caused by camera shake and offers up to four stops of
    compensation for clean, crisp images. When using Nikon?s VR function, photographers can
    view a stabilized image through the viewfinder and therefore are able to compose their
    pictures naturally and with greater accuracy. A Tripod mode in the camera reduces
    vibration that may occur at shutter release when shooting with a super-telephoto lens
    attached to a tripod."
  13. ??? (scratching head). I don't know what that means. Might be a typo in the release. They might be referring instead to VR Active mode in the lens. Or maybe the new bodies do have a "tripod mode". ???
  14. Apparently, it's a focusing mode when using live view in the new D3 and D300. Here's
    what Nikon says:

    "he D300?s LiveView feature offers two modes for confirming subjects and composition on
    the new 920,000-dot, high-resolution 3-inch LCD monitor while shooting. The Tripod
    mode is designed for precise focus and accuracy when the camera is on a stable platform
    and the subject is not moving. In this mode, the camera focuses on the subject using
    focal-plane contrast and any point on the LCD screen can be selected as the focus point
    for the picture. The second mode, called Handheld mode, allows photographers to use the
    camera?s conventional TTL focusing system, with all 51-points and 15 cross-type points
    available. When using this mode, the camera activates focusing immediately when the
    shutter button is pressed, to ensure accurate focus."

    Doesn't seem to help the OP much. Just can't envision how this would work using a super
    long telephoto.
  15. Active mode is NOT for tripod use. It is for shooting from a moving vehicle such as from a helicopter or a boat.
  16. Thanks, Ilkka. So Active mode addresses "external" mechanical vibration, not "internal" mechanical vibration. Correct?
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Essentially, the active mode is for when the camera itself is not stationary.
  18. Camera shake is the primary cause of unsharp pictures up to about 3x the "inverse focal length" rule, and VR is there to counteract camera shake. A monopod only provides about 1 stop of shake reduction. Long lenses tend to shake even on heavy tripods due to flex in the system and the effect of even a slight breeze. Furthermore, nature photography frequently requires shutter speeds on the order of 1/100 - slow even for a tripod under real-world conditions. I find that the long lens on my video camera, equivalent to 800mm, is better with VR on than without it.
  19. Ken said, "When using Nikon?s VR function, photographers can view a stabilized image through the viewfinder..."

    If you read the manual for a VR lens, you find that Nikon VR operates in at least two modes. The "normal" mode is fully active only at the time of exposure. It provides some stabilization in the viewfinder but not to the full extend. The "active" mode is fully active once the shutter release is half-pressed. The full stabilization causes a "slip-stick" action which can be visually unsettling when using the camera by hand. It works well to quench vibrations on a tripod (or monopod) where normal motions do not exceed VR's action limits.
  20. Well, I didn't say that, but no matter. So from this is sounds like Active mode would help with
    vibrations on a tripod/monopod. :)
  21. What Mark Chappell didn't mention was that he, and others, defected to Canon, because Canon offers IS on its big guns -- and until now, Nikon has not. Mark is a sharp guy and an outstanding bird photographer.
  22. Edward, which VR lens are you talking about? They behave differently vs. viewfinder stabilization bf actual exposure.
  23. Can I tell you something? this thread just confused my already weak knoledge on the subject. Now I have to go back and study my manual again... thank you all! :)

    I thought:

    active mode: camera and/or subject moving;

    normal mode: camera and subject still, hand held or monopod;

    no VR: tripod (maybe).

    Now, as for the "mirror slap" in critical lighting contition, my D200 has a shutter delay funcion of some tenths of a second starting from the moment the mirror is lifted. I tested it on my 300/f4 with noticeable results.

    Now I have to go back to my manual for another very boring non-VR reading session. :(
  24. Just to be sure you need to realize that there are different features in the different lenses. For example the 80-400 had different modes for full stabilization the whole time shutter button is half-depressed or during exposure only. The 200-400 VR was the first which Nikon advertised as having tripod compatible VR.
  25. I'm confused, too. Maybe I'm being naive, but it seems intuitive to me that movement of the
    camera/lens system - whether by an unsteady hand, by rocking of a boat, or by wind - is all
    the same. The whole unit is moving around, and this is what Normal mode (traditional) VR/IS
    compensates for.

    So what kind of movement is Active mode VR intended to address?

    Or maybe Active is intended to address the same type of movement problem, except it
    compensates throughout the exposure. I'm not sure.
  26. Ilkka is correct about the different lenses - but also remember that there is a difference between having a lens locked down on a tripod, or having it mounted on a tripod but free to track a moving subject. Think wildlife and sports.
  27. Let me expand a bit on my previous reply - For at least both the 70-200 and 200-400 VR lenses, the instructions are clear: "Set the (VR) switch to ON when using a tripod without securing the tripod head, or when using a monopod."

    Regarding the ACTIVE mode - "The vibration reduction mechanism reduces camera shake when taking pictures from a moving vehicle. In this mode, the lens does not automatically distinguish panning from camera shake."
  28. Dave Moss: "re: mirror slap. it is a non-factor in picture sharpness. it has been proven countless times that the slap only occurs after the image has been taken. "

    Mirror slap is very significant in the critical region of ~1/15" and even at 1/100" can cause significant image degradation depending on the particular camera, lens and tripod in use at the time.

    The Markins site has a good article in which they test various tripods and heads.
  29. To take this thread in a slightly different direction: These new lenses are doubtless going to
    be superb optics. But can anyone explain the logic of equipping them with such outlandishly
    long (tall) tripod feet? The tripod mount looks like it was designed to amplify vibrations and
    be awkward to mount on a tripod or store in a camera backpack. There must be some
    reason Nikon does this -- but it fuels a small cottage industry (Kirk, Wimberley, etc.) of
    making shorter replacement feet.
  30. To take this thread in a slightly different direction: These new lenses are doubtless going to be superb optics. But can anyone explain the logic of equipping them with such outlandishly long (tall) tripod feet? The tripod mount looks like it was designed to amplify vibrations and be awkward to mount on a tripod or store in a camera backpack.
    I don't think there's any logic, it's just a poor design. I own a 600 Nikkor and can attest to its underdesigned tripod foot. The main issue is the rotating collar itself; it's narrow and since it's designed to rotate, there's a fair bit of flex at that point (which is very far forward). So then you have this long length of lens with camera body attached hanging way out in mid air with no support at all. This all adds up to plenty of vibration. If I release the shutter with a cable release, I can clearly see the camera move up and down. I don't use a cable release with the 600, I use good long lens technique and it helps tremendously.
    So I guess VR would help even on a tripod but I'm wondering why they just couldn't design a better tripod mount. Perhaps if they had a mount that had a fore and aft attachment point so that the length of lens wasn't hanging out in mid air like that. I believe Kirk made such a mount for the AI-P 500mm.
  31. Rob: If you use an Arca-Swiss type tripod head, you might try a replacement foot for your 600. It won't affect any issue with the front-back placement of the tripod collar but it will substantially lower the lens relative to the tripod head.
    The Canon superteles have shorter tripod collars than those on the comparable Nikon lenses, but I still saved quite a few grams and a couple of cm of height by replacing the foot on my 500 IS with a part from 4th Generation Designs. Worthwhile, I think: makes the lens a better fit in my carry-on backpack.
    One place to look: http://www.naturescapes.net/store/home.php?cat=30
  32. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Mark, at least in the past, the Nikon super-teles come with two tripod feet, the long one you see in the announcement images but also a shorter one. If you prefer to use the short one, you can unscrew the standard one and replace it with the short one. My 500mm/f4 AF-S is like that. There really is no problem.

    Of course, the likes of Really Right Stuff, etc. also supply replacement feet with Arca Swiss type plate built into one piece.
  33. Shun, that begs the question of why they include the long tripod foot. I'm just curious: is
    there some situation I'm not thinking of where the long tripod foot is better/more useful than
    a shorter foot?
  34. I have been waiting a long time for the 500mm F/4 VR lens. For years I have kept my money in the bank and let Nikon keep their non VR long lenses. Now, I am willing to make the trade.
  35. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Mark, the attached image shows my 500mm/f4 AF-S, which is the original version from 1996 and I have owned it since 1998. I placed the smaller foot on the right side. I believe the smaller foot is intended for monopod use, and I have never even put it onto my lens. The 500mm/f4 AF-S comes with a very long lens hood, which almost doubles the overall length of the lens. The longer tripod collar foot gives you sufficient clearance so that you can store that long lens hood in reverse, as shown.
  36. There is also a problem with the amount of surface area exposed to the wind with large lenses. The lens becomes a sail for the tripod and the windage induces motion no matter how well it is locked into the tripod. If the tripod feet are encased in cement no problem or if the camera shutter speed is 1/1000 or faster again no problem.

    In particular for wildlife shooters with a lens like the 600mm (which will be more popular now with the D3) it is not unusual to be shooting at f4 and wanting to use a low ISO of 100 and finding that the shutter speed is not anywhere near 1/1000 but more like 1/100. This is when VR is invaluable.

    I use the 200-400mm f4 VR and have been able to hand hold shots at 1/30th at the 400mm setting and produce sharp images. So the VR really does work as advertised (at least with the latest generation of VR lenses).

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