Tripods, Monopods, Hand Holding, Wind, Shutter Shock, Long Teles

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by tradesmith45, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    In past posts here, I've opined that most tripods today are over-kill for light Mu43 gear.

    But that was before I knew shutter shock existed & before I'd used adapted ultra-teles.

    During a trip where I was shooting birds w/ an old 500mm mirror adapted to the OMD, I put it on my Slik 634CF light tripod & did some moon shots. Got reasonably sharps images @ 1/320" but horrendous seeing double images @ 1/100". Scared the crap out of me. Was buying Mu43 a complete mistake? Was the tripod just to flexible? I've now bought a Canon FD 400mm. Would it be just as bad?

    On another trip I had time on my hands & good conditions so did lots of testing. So I have lots to report & wish that I'd found this type of info while researching my buying choices.

    Landscape & wildlife photography are part of what I enjoy. Because it can be tough getting to some of the places to do this, I chose Mu43 but I want to get the max IQ out of my gear. I'll take these topics up one at a time. For some of you, this will be old news. For others, I hope this is helpful.

    All I've found is good news or at least describes a solution!
  2. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Real Name:
    Put your long lens on the camera. Put the camera on the tripod. Turn on live view. Tap the lens and watch everything shake. Then you realize you need a more rigid tripod.
  3. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer


    You can only pick 2.

    If you went ahead and sprung for a lightweight and stable tripod (which may be your case), often the solution is to weight down the tripod at its center. One option is hanging your bag between the legs.. Some tripods have a hook at the bottom of the center column for this purpose. When on the go, carry a heavy duty plastic bag (empty). You can place rocks and such into it once at location and use that to weigh down the tripod. You will also want to keep the center column in its lowest position, placing the head nearest to were the legs meet. It also helps to use a wired remote to make sure your hand is not touching the camera or tripod at the moment the shutter is tripped.

    By far, my most usable tripod for really long telephotos is my Bogen 3021 with a Gimbal head.

    This is an E_PL1 + Bogen 3021 + Gimbal Head + Takumar 500mm. Shot at 1/90th.

    I also do long exposures using the same tripod... with good results.
  4. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Hand Holding, Monopods & Tripods

    There have been frequent posts asking about the value of monopods. And I've responded to some of those.

    These tests results using the Canon FD 400mm f4.5 (a 45 oz lens w/ tripod socket) & others using the MZD75300 are the basis for those responses. These used the 1951 USAF resolution chart as a test target. Shot 10 frames in each position @ progressively slower SS. For SS speeds <1/100", used 1/8" anti-shock delay which I now know is inadequate to address shutter shock. IS 1 is on for HH & monopod shots but off for tripod shots. Examined the captures @ 300%. Set IBIS to 400mm.

    Hand holding the 400mm while standing w/ left hand under the lens & elbow against my side only got 6/10 sharp @ 1/400". No sharp images below that. W/MZD 75300, got 8/10 @ 1/320" & 2/10 @ 1/160".

    W/ the monopod, holding the camera in right hand & lens in left, got 6/10 for the 400mm @ 1/200" & 2/10 down to 1/50". W/ the MZD75300, got 7/10 @ 1/160" & a couple @ 1/80".

    W/ the Slik tripod, got 5/10 for the 400mm @ 1/25" & 3/10 @ 1/13". The results were worse for the light MZD75300 that is more affected by shutter shock. More on that later.

    HH while seated (either in chair or on the ground & elbow on knee), I can get 7/10 @ 1/125" w/ the 400mm.

    Conclusions for these long lenses:
    Standing is the most unstable choice - monopod or not.
    5-axis IBIS will add at most 1 stop better than 1/effective FL shutter speed @ => 300mm.
    A monopod will get you only one more stop (& less fatigue).
    Sit, kneel or use a tripod for ultra-tele, IS has its limits.
    If you get excited about what's happening, you'll need even faster shutter speeds to get sharp images even if you do these things.

  5. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Tripods & Wind

    The last post was old hat but this one may surprise you.

    Had slightly windy day for testing. NOAA said 5-10 mph. I think we'd all agree these were light but variable winds.

    Used the Canon 400mm on this day & confirmed the results on a subsequent day w/ the MZD 40150 & MZD75300.

    Tested using the 2.5 lb Slik 634CF w/ Giottos MH-1002 head and my 45 yr old view camera tripod - a sought aluminum 5.5 lb Marconi Tiltall. 10 shots for each condition w/ SS of 1/20" for all: IS off, IS on, tripod+ camera alone & w/ bag strapped to the tripod.

    The results were a shock. Nothing worked. Got 0 to 2 sharp frames out of 10 & the 2 sharp came from the Slik w/ IS on. Since the wind varied, I think this was just chance & not meaningful.

    But if you use the tripod, use IS and hold the camera in one hand & lens in the other, some success! Could get 4/10 sharp @ 1/20". An optional & successful strategy is to watch the rear screen w/ mag & wait until its calm to trip the shutter.

    Visual observation confirmed one thing. The worst thing you can do for tripod stability is raise the center column regardless of tripod size. Unless you hang on to the camera that is.

    What really surprised my was watching the rear screen @ 14x & seeing how little difference there was between the two tripods. Yes, the 5.5 pounder was a bit more stable than the 2.5 but only a bit and not enough to get sharp images. And this was a light wind. These results were the same using a much smaller lens, the MZD 40150.

    So no need to pay extra for a bag hook or carry big weight.
  6. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Thanks a bunch!

    See below regarding hanging a bag. I'm now a skeptic.

    BTW, that Takumar is nice & sharp. Much better than my 500mm mirror.
  7. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Thanks for reading. I've certainly done that simple test as well. But in 3 series of tests now w/ 2 tripods - one weighing 2x the other, I get nearly no difference in results. Certainly the lighter tripod takes a couple seconds longer to settle after being tapped but the big pod is no more wind or shutter shock resistant than the little one. I was surprised!
  8. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Shutter Shock on tripods

    I'm a little nervous about posting this one. On another very popular forum, this topic has produced such ill mannered responses that some have been banned from the forum. So let me say, all I'm trying to do is figure out how best to use this equipment & hopefully help others to do the same. And I do not contend that these results represent something universal to all mirror less cameras or lenses.

    I read many of the posts about this issue & found little agreement. But was especially impressed w/ the lab study of shutter shock in a Pentax body. What really got my attention was the calculation that the force produced by stopping one of these small shutters is about 40G & lasts about half a millisecond. That's a big whack to use a scientific term-:) But many claim shutter shock doesn't exist & that its really regular camera shake. Hence these tests are on tripods.

    So test conditions: same 2 tripods, OMD, 3 FL w/ 3 lenses (25mm w. MZD1442 II R, 150mm w/ MZD 40150, 150mm w/ MZD 75300 & 300mm w/ same), IS off & on, shutter speeds (SS) of 1/400" & 1/100" w/ anti-shock (AS) of 0, 1/8, 1/4. 1/2, 1, 4 sec. Wireless remote. Same resolution chart w/ appropriate distance to give same image size for each FL. I used 1/100" because most who say shutter shock exists say this is the worst speed. Used MF @ 10x at the start of each series.

    (For those of you who know something about resolution testing , you know how subjective visual evaluations are. That's why the MTF50 standard was introduced. I can't do that so I sharpen a little & look @ 300% for the last group of lines free of an artifact that spans the gap between lines. This strategy eliminates most but not all of the subjectivity. In the range used here, the line groups differ by 8 or so LPM.)

    First the good news. On a tripod, shutter shock produces modest blurring and it can almost be eliminated using a 1/2" anti-shock delay. In numerical terms, here's what that means. In these tests, the MZD40150 @ 150 & 1/400" (ISO800) had a resolution of 75 lpm. At 1/100" (ISO200) & no AS or IS, it drops two steps on the resolution chart to 59 lpm & goes back up to 66 w/ 1/2" AS. I'd guess all 3 of these resolutions would be reported in the usual official lens tests as good to excellent. No wonder there is so much disagreement about this subject.

    And for some more good news, leaving IBIS on (at these shutter speeds at least) has no measurable impact on resolution in my crude tests. That said, for all FL & lens tested, the images @ 1/100", AS=0 & IS on always had slightly lower contrast.

    The pattern of results among tripods, lens & FL was remarkably consistent. AS=1/2" was always the most needed, IS on was always a tiny bit softer, the reduction in resolution was always about 2 brackets (except for FL= 300 which is much softer to begin with) & the heavier tripod made no difference. And no image at 1/100" was as good as those at 1/400".

    Last but definitely not lease, did a moon shot w/ the big Canon 400mm @ 1/100". It had been a hot day & thermals were clearly visible but got pretty good results. Much better than I got w/ the light weight 500mm mirror. So perhaps attaching weight - whether a tripod or big lens- helps.

    Conclusion: shutter shock is real but modest, use AS=1/2" if SS is in the range of 1/40"-1/160" or avoid this SS range altogether if you want max IQ. We'll have to wait & see if buying a GX7 is another option.

    If you are someone who never looks at lens tests, you do not need to worry about shutter shock. And there are several other factors that can make your images soft that can be more significant.
  9. MarylandUSA

    MarylandUSA Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 3, 2013
    Poolesville, Maryland
    Real Name:
    Paul Franklin Stregevsky
    that other forum

    I'm guessing you're referring to Some forum members there get very caustic very quickly; they're quick to call someone an idiot or a troll. Many threads quickly become a textbook example of uncivil netiquette. I've rebuked individuals publicly for their rudeness.

  10. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    The Tripods

    To provide some documentation, here's a quick snap of the 2 tripods I used for these tests. Many of you may not be familiar w// the old Tiltall. The Slik has 22mm dia legs & the Tiltall 32mm.

    Also all the shutter shock tests were done @ f8. When I figure out what's going wrong w/ the uploads to Flickr, I upload a few frames to illustrate the impact of shutter shock.

    Slik &amp; Tiltall by tradesmith45, on Flickr[/IMG]
  11. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
  12. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Good stuff and very interesting reading. Thanks.

    A couple of comments:

    Re monopods, my photography is mostly travel-related and I rarely want to fool with carrying a tripod. Hence, I am a monopod zealot.

    I assume you shot off the monopod using it, as most people do, as a vertical stick under the camera. Right? There are other ways to use it with additional bracing against your body or against stationary objects. For example, I sometimes bungee-cord anchor my monopod to a railing, a post, or a small tree. Using these techniques substantially increases stability, probably even compared to a tripod. So that's my argument for monopods. And, of course, there is also the argument that the monopod you are carrying gives you much more stability than the tripod you left at the hotel or in the car.

    Re the Tiltall vs your Slik, the fact that results are similar surprises me. Diameter hugely affects stiffness of a tube, so I would have expected the Tiltall to slay the Slik given the 7/8" Slick tubes (largest diameter) vs the 1 1/4" Tiltall tubes. The only reason I can see for this not happening is the better vibration damping of the carbon fiber material. I would be very interested in a comparison between your Slik and a similar carbon tripod with significantly larger tube diameters. I specifically bought my carbon Benro C2192 tripod with 29mm leg diameter over the smaller, cheaper carbon Benros for this reason, but I had no way to test ahead of time. If a carbon/carbon test shows no advantage to the larger tubes then I spent too much and am carrying too much.
  13. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Tripods - is bigger better??

    Hey oldracer, great to hear from you again.

    I wouldn't pretend to suggest any broad rules for what if any support to use. There's just too many different shooting situations. And i certainly use them all. My only goal was to better know the limits of these tools. But if there's wind, an anchored monopod is going to act just like an extended center column & shake like the dickens.

    I have learned that it is just as easy to carry the little Slik w/ camera attached & over my shoulder w// legs extended as it is to do the same w/ my Sirui monopod. So if I'm headed out for a day that's mostly to shoot & will need support, I'll take take 3 legs. If it will be an outing w/ occasional shooting or there will be lots of feet around, I take one leg. I'm really enjoying IR photography but don't have a converted camera so this can be an important decision for >5 sec. exposures.

    Yes, I would have bet good $$ my 1960s Tiltall would handily win this one. After doing all these tests now & repeating some because I couldn't believe the results, I don't think its a case of David beating Goliath. Its simpler. It just takes darn little force to create enough camera movement to produce visible blur. The amplitude of camera vibration on the Tiltall looks smaller than the Slik but both images are still blurred. If you've been hung, getting shot doesn't matter-:)

    Now at these low wind speeds there may well have been a faster shutter speed where the Tiltall would produce blur free images but the Slik wouldn't. I tested @ 1/20" because that's what the lighting was in the garage where I put the chart. I didn't test faster SS simply because there will always be stronger winds & would you measure wind speed to choose SS?. For me the lesson was whatever tripod you choose to cart around, if there's wind, either watch the screen & trip the shutter when everything is still or hold onto the camera while shooting w/ a higher SS. A bigger tripod is no insurance.

    I know this flies in the face of long standing dogma but the results are the results.

    As always YMMV.

  14. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    True enough, but if I have it lashed to an iron railing with a bungee cord just below the ball head, it won't shake at all! :)
    Yeah. That pretty much describes travel photography for me, anyway. I do have a pair of backpack type straps that lets me carry my Benro Travel Flat quite easily, but carrying the monopod is even easier. And it doubles as a good walking stick.
    Me, too. It would be interesting to know the relative importance of weight, stiffness, and vibration damping. The Tiltall has the Slik beat on the first two but not the third. So maybe damping is more important than I thought.
  15. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Real Name:
    Mike Aubrey
    On the shuttershock question...

    I don't remember what thread I read it in (or even what forum), but I certainly remember that someone related shutter shock specifically the mass of the camera body and they found that by changing the mass of the E-M5 by the addition of the battery grip greatly improved the situation for the 1/80th to 1/160th shutter speed range.
  16. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Yes, I've seen several reports like that too. Most discussions of shutter shock are about hand held results & I can't think of any test to isolate the actual cause of observed blur.

    My limited testing shows that adding mass anywhere will reduce shutter shock some. But if a 2.5 or even a 5.5 lb tripod won't stop it, a battery grip won't either. That's because a 40G force is really hard to isolate.

    And I'm doing some serious pixel peeping when I say that. Unless you are making really big display images, shutter shock, at least when using a tripod, will be hard to see.

    Best regards,
  17. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Well, even the most robust tripod is if little use when the connection between the camera and the mount (ball, etc) is not solid. Also it is the moment of inertia of the camera/lens combo that is critical to determining stability and time constants for dampening of vibrations.

    Setting shutter shock to times less than that needed to fully settle vibrations will result in failure everytime. 14x MF in live view and watch for the tap/vibration to end to see just how long for settling - then double it (my 'fudge' factor)

    Heck, I've bolted a camera to optical bench (600 pounds and super stable) and there is still vibrations! That means tripod is a maybe not so important part of the problem.
  18. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Yup, you got it right in my view. Thanks!

    Seems like we spend way too much time concerned about the tripod legs when we are still using the same small bolt and thin aluminum plate to connect to the camera (which w/ a lens out front makes a nice lever arm).

    When you look at the tiny ball head on the Slik & the beefy pan head on the Tiltall, its hard to believe these performed similarly but in these simple tests, they did. Only possible explanation is the connection - the camera base - is the weak link where movement occurs.

    But in all my shutter shock tests, 1/2" delay was always best - no improvement after that. In one set of tests, I went out to 8 sec. I've seen others report 1" as the best. Perhaps subsequent opening & closings of the shutter create their own vibration. And yes I did use 14x live view - very illuminating.
  19. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Vibration passed to the sensor IS mechanism?
  20. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Shutter Shock & IS?

    Good question & I've read a ton of speculation on just this & whether some lens parts are rattling around. Baring someone investing a lot of engineering resources, I don't know how this could be measured/tested directly.

    But it is why I included IS on & used 3 lite AF lenses in my tests. As I reported, the effect of IS on was barely visible and smaller than my ability to quantify. For me this was both impressive & reassuring. The IS electronics -like all electronics- has noise. That alone could cause slight blurring if the camera is steady - which it isn't.

    Back to what I reported at the beginning - 40G force for 1/2 millisecond - ka bam! That has to cause very complex movement in the camera including compression, flexion & displacement - almost everything probably? moves a tiny bit. But what moves the most & contributes the most blurring is way beyond all of us arm chair speculators. And really doesn't matter either for photographers.

    So back to the good news - the blurring is small w/ or w/o IS. But big enough for me to consider if I want to produce an exhibition size print.