Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/10/13

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: Re:long lenses and vibrations #2
From: Jim Brick <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 15:39:31 -0700

At 04:13 PM 10/13/97 EDT, Marvin wrote:

>it is difficult to imagine
>how these photographers ever got great pix with these inefficient 
>gadgets - so I guess there is no substitute for talent.*****************
>******************Marvin Moss*********************************************

When I write about the problems I've had and how I solved them, it's from
my personal perspective. That is, what I photograph and how I photograph.
I've said previously that most of my work is of stationary stuff.
Landscapes, illustrations, regional, etc. So I'm after depth of field and
impact. I use Velvia, polarizers, split ND, color grads, sometimes all at
once. I'm usually down in the mud as far as shutter speed goes. The area
where vibration will ALWAYS ruin your image if you do not do everything

Now Ted and probably Donal have experience from a different perspective.
Ted photographs sports (Olympics) with very long lenses. I suspect he is
using a film speed of 100 or better, perhaps 400 neg film. Ted can correct
this. You cannot do all the artsy fartsy stuff with fast moving action
(boats & skiers - Donal, track & field - Ted) and long lenses, unless you
plan appropriately. Besides using a faster film, you can pan a long lens on
a tripod or monopod and get sharp pictures at reasonably slow shutter
speeds. The action of panning plus you holding the rig with your hands,
will dampen many of the resonant vibrations. I've done this with surfers
and it works. You can even hand hold a pan because your muscles are in
motion and everything smooths out. A gyro also works.

If you set up your camera and long lens on a tripod (or any similar holding
device) and then use a cable release to trip the shutter, and if the
shutter is below 1/30th, you had better do all of the things required to
dampen inherent vibrations as there is a LOT of mechanical motions going on
inside your camera during the actual exposure. Dampening the transmission
of vibrations is the key. Tripod, center post weight, MLU, fourth leg
(monopod), or use a faster film for a faster shutter speed. You can also go
the other way. Use a .6 ND filter and loose two stops. This could put you
into the 1/2sec - 2sec shutter speed range which tolerates vibration. It
will also give you silky waterfalls, smooth ocean waves, etc. Sometimes a
great effect. Probably won't work too well with track & field.

If you think a fourth leg (monopod) is too much to deal with, to ease the
anxiety of wondering if you did enough, you can use the camera strap as a
brace. When you are ready to expose, pull the camera strap tight (downward)
and clamp it to the closest tripod leg.  Even just wind it around the leg
and gently hold it there. This puts a strain on the camera/lens/tripod
joints and will indeed dampen out vibrations. This is akin to Art Wolfe's
"hand pressure on the camera" method. But you still use a cable release,
weight & MLU.

There is a lot of things you can do to sharpen your long shots. Just take
the time to find your weak link/links and attack it/them.