6_Vib rati on re­ducti on

Get­ting sharp re­sults isn’t just about fo­cus­ing – you also need to avoid cam­era shake, as that may blur your shots

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Blurred images due to cam­era shake are caused by your cam­era mov­ing dur­ing the ex­po­sure. This is most com­mon when you’re hold­ing your cam­era to shoot, and us­ing a shut­ter speed that’s too slow to ‘freeze’ any cam­era move­ment. The longer the fo­cal length of the lens, the more any move­ment is mag­ni­fied, so the faster the shut­ter speed you need to freeze the move­ment of the cam­era.

Many Nikon lenses have a fea­ture called Vi­bra­tion Re­duc­tion (VR) that will re­duce the ef­fects of cam­era shake by mov­ing the el­e­ments within the lens it­self to com­pen­sate for any move­ment of the cam­era. Vi­bra­tion Re­duc­tion es­sen­tially en­ables you to use shut­ter speeds much slower than would nor­mally be pos­si­ble and still get sharp re­sults, so it’s ideal in low light, for ex­am­ple.

There is a limit to how much vi­bra­tion re­duc­tion sys­tems can do, though, so if you’re plan­ning to use very long shut­ter speeds, or very long lenses, then it’s still worth us­ing a tri­pod (or mono­pod) to max­imise your chances of get­ting sharp re­sults. within the lens to com­pen­sate for any cam­era move­ment.

The shut­ter speed needed for avoid­ing cam­era shake with­out VR will vary ac­cord­ing to the fo­cal length of the lens you’re us­ing. With an FX (full-frame) cam­era the rule of thumb is that you need a shut­ter speed of 1/fo­cal length to pre­vent cam­era shake; so for a 200mm lens you should use 1/200 sec or faster. But with a DX model it’s best to use an even faster shut­ter speed, as the ef­fec­tive fo­cal length will be 1.5 times longer (in other words, 300mm rather than 200mm – see Niko­pe­dia, page 74).

Once you’ve ac­ti­vated the VR sys­tem you can use slower shut­ter Vi­bra­tion re­duc­tion be­comes com­pletely re­dun­dant once you’ve fixed your cam­era to a tri­pod. Even though the sys­tems in many mod­ern lenses are de­signed to switch off au­to­mat­i­cally when they don’t sense any move­ment, it’s still worth turn­ing them off when you are us­ing a tri­pod. This will pre­vent the VR from ac­ti­vat­ing if there’s a small move­ment, such as when you ad­just the set­tings or re­frame your shot, which can po­ten­tially cause your shot to be blurred, as the VR will move the el­e­ments in­side the lens.

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