Mirror Lockup: Secret DSLR feature to click sharp images

mirror lockup

Are you looking for a solution to click crisp and sharp images while shooting long exposures? Still not able to achieve the sharpness with the help of a tripod and shutter release remote?

What is this hidden functionality?

Did you know, there is a magical feature hidden in your DSLR camera settings that enables you to click sharp images by eliminating the minute shake that is caused due to a component involved in the optical system of your camera. This component present in your camera is the mirror that moves when you press the shutter release button.

When the mirror moves, it results in small vibration which can result in minor blurring of your image while you are shooting long exposures or macro shots. You must have experienced that in order to avoid any shake, the use of a shutter release remote still did not helped you to eliminate that slight shake caused by the movement of the mirror.

Well, your camera has a solution to that, hidden in your camera settings. I bet you didn’t knew that. Most DSLRs come with the ‘Mirror Lockup’ (Canon) or an ‘Exposure Delay’ (Nikon) feature to help you achieve the sharp result.

what is mirror lockup

When to use the mirror lock-up or exposure delay functionality?

There are no hard and fast rules as to when you should be using this feature. It is advisable to activate the functionality while shooting long exposure and macro shots or when clicking using a telephoto lens. Make sure your camera is on a tripod, so that the only thing that moves within the camera is the aperture. For further assurance, you can turn on the 2-second timer.

You can also create wonders by enabling both the mirror lockup and the AEB (auto exposure bracketing) functionality, which will enable your camera to click the shots specified by you in the AEB settings, that to without the mirror flapping up and down.

long exposure

Any disadvantages of the mirror lockup or exposure delay functionality?

With many advantages, comes a disadvantage too (a minor one). The only issue you may face while using mirror lock-up or exposure delay is that you will not be able look through the viewfinder, as the mirror will be locked. This is the reason, it is recommended to use the functionality only while you are shooting long exposure or macro.

How to enable the mirror lockup functionality in Canon DSLRs?

mirror lockup

Image courtesy: Digital Camera World

To enable the Mirror Lockup functionality, simply go to your camera settings and then to custom functions menu. Then all you need to do is enable the Mirror Lock-up functionality, and it’s done. Make sure to mount your camera on a tripod to get crisp image.

NOTE: The Mirror Lockup functionality is not compatible in the automatic more. In order to use it, set your camera to either of P, TV, AV, M, or A-DEP mode.

How to enable the exposure delay functionality in Nikon DSLRs?

mirror lockup

Image courtesy: Digital Camera World

To enable the Exposure Delay functionality, you need to navigate to the custom settings in your Nikon DSLR. Basically, the functionality delays the shooting for about one second, after the mirror flips up, eliminating the shake caused by the mirror.

mirror lockup

Image courtesy: Digital Camera World

If you prefer shooting long exposure on your Nikon DSLR using a shutter release remote, you can enable the Remote Mirror-up functionality which can be found in drive modes in your camera settings.

Was this blog post a good read? Do let me know your views in the comments below. :)

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About Author

Kunal Malhotra
Kunal Malhotra, a photography enthusiast whose passion for photography started 6 years back during his college days. Kunal is also a photography blogger, based out of Delhi. He loves sharing his knowledge about photography with fellow aspiring photographers by writing regular posts on his blog: The Photography Blogger. Some of his favourite genres of photography are Product, Street, Fitness and Architecture.

  • Michal Rosa

    “Secret” feature? Honestly, you mean the same one that’s mentioned in every manual?

    General guide to writing photography tips

    1. Don’t. Odds are that whatever you want to write about has been already covered by others and most likely in a better way than you intended to do it.

    2. Just don’t. If you are still considering it than please Google first. Read the first ten hits on the subject you want to write about. If any of those articles covers what you were considering writing about and covers it better than you were going to do it than please don’t waste your time. It’s been done before, it’s been done better – see the first point.

    3. Please don’t. So you have a few pretty pictures and you want to share – that’s what flickr is for, that’s what 500px is for, that’s what a lot of social networks are for. By all means, share your pictures, share your experiences but please, do not write any “tips” – it’s been done, it’s been done better. See the first point.

    • HI Michal,

      Thanks for taking out time to share your views.

      I agree with you that the feature is mentioned in every manual, but if you do a survey you might find out that 90/100 photography enthusiasts are either not aware of this feature, or must have reach about it in the manual but never realized the importance of Mirror Lockup.

      The thought was to highlight the uses and benefits of Mirror Lockup and Exposure Delay functionality. You being a photographer might be aware, but there are many who would not be aware of the same and would love to gain knowledge about this great functionality.