When shooting with Nikon's Live View in tripod mode, the camera uses contrast detection to focus. It does this by using the sensor, which it would seem would raise the mirror similar to mirror lock up.

When the shutter is pressed does the camera drop the mirror back down, raise it, fire the shot, and then turn live view back on?

According to my research continuous shooting mode and single cause different results.


1 Answer 1


Background Information

I will share the information from the Nikon page on Live View shooting on D-SLR cameras here.

Traditional D-SLR phase-detection AF sensors are blocked whenever a camera raises its reflex mirror to expose the imaging sensor, which is what happens in Live View's Handheld Mode. Since the imaging sensor constantly streams data for the LCD display during Live View operation, the mirror must be continuously held up while Live View mode is being used. Consequently, there's a brief interruption to the Live View display as the camera drops the mirror, focuses and then quickly flips the mirror back up to shoot a picture, after which Live View resumes. This is fine for relatively static scenes, but the delay in focusing, not to mention the interruption to your view of the scene, can make it difficult to get a good shot if your subject is in motion or requires precise timing.

Live View Tripod Mode uses contrast-detect autofocus driven from the imaging sensor. Instead of flipping the mirror up, the camera reads data off the CMOS image sensor and evaluates how abruptly light to dark (or dark to light) transitions happen on the image plane, thus allowing focus without interrupting the Live View display. Tripod Mode is ideal when photographing still life images in a studio environment or for photographing landscapes.

Essentially what this means is that they have two modes, handheld and tripod mode. The handheld mode flips the mirror down when you take a shot, and flips it back up to give you the live view. The tripod mode doesn't actually flip the mirror for AF, and the mirror never flips for live view.

Limitations of Tripod Live Shooting Mode

Addressing your real question, the important thing to understand is that the "tripod" mode is made really only for stationary subjects. They specifically word the documentation to point out that is is "ideal for still life and studio" work. The reason is that Live View Tripod mode can increase shutter lag as long as server seconds. Also, with a moving subject or using the camera handheld, the contrast detection AF may fail to even focus.

I do not have evidence of it, but I would assume that the tripod mode only works with single shot, and it pulls itself out of tripod live view mode if you enter continuous shooting modes - for the reasons stated above.

During Live View Tripod Mode the mirror is raised and the shutter is open.

I could provide more details around which Nikon bodies actually use only contrast-detection AF and which do not, but the original question does not give a body model number.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I want to point out that I do not have a Nikon DSLR, and the above is based on my research and knowledge of DSLRs, not first hand experience with this feature on Nikons. I may be wrong, but that is why other people can comment and or answer:) \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Oct 26, 2011 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ After testing last night with my D700 it appears that even in tripod mode it drops the mirror, raises the mirror, actuates the shutter, drops the mirror then raises the mirror again to turn on live view again. This is disheartening as I would like to leave the mirror up to reduce vibration. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jarrod268
    Oct 27, 2011 at 12:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jarrod268 - Are you using the AF-On button to get autofocus or the shutter release pressed halfway? \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Oct 27, 2011 at 12:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ When in tripod mode shutter release for focus is disabled. I use a remote shutter release which works and I have also used the AF-ON button to focus. I tried both methods. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jarrod268
    Oct 27, 2011 at 13:37

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