Inspired by this comment. When photographing water drops, I've made a habit out of limiting as much lag to the process as I can. What this means is, I set up the shot, use mirror lock up to lock the mirror, open the shutter (bulb), tap my water dropper, and then press a remote trigger for the flash.

The question is, is this process worth it? Let's assume that I'm going to just press a remote shutter release and then let the chain of events run its normal course (mirror up, shutter open, flash firing).

How much lag is introduced by the mirror needing to flip and by the shutter needing to travel?


1 Answer 1


Wikipedia's Shutter lag article lists some examples of typical lag times between triggering the shutter and exposing the sensor/film. The examples are a bit dated, but some of them are (in milliseconds):

  • Canon EOS-1D Mark IV: 49
  • Canon EOS-1D Mark II: 40
  • Canon EOS-1D X: 36
  • Nikon D300s: 53
  • Nikon D3s: 43
  • Nikon D3x: 40
  • Nikon D2H/D2Hs: 37
  • Sony Alpha NEX-5N: 22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I found this video: youtube.com/watch?v=3U3FMCGfEa0 and would deem the photographic value of the shot to be between the 10 and 20 second marks. Given that this represents 0.002 seconds - I think it's safe to say that MLU should continue to be used for my water drop set ups, no? Outside of pricey electronics - what else can be used to gain a more accurate edge on timing? \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Corey I'm not sure what level of pricey is outside of your comfort zone, but there are a few light triggers available for $350-$500. If that's not in your comfort zone, how are your electronics skills? A 555 timer-based trigger is a pretty simple circuit. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll have to give the circuit a go - the $$ is tight at the moment. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Corey of course, another similar DIY option is to build it using one of the tiny kit microcontrollers, such as a Microchip PIC, or Arduino (plus the IR photodiode and photocell from the 555 timer project). \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 22:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that published shutter lag times are measured under the most ideal conditions possible: Manual focus, manual exposure, wide open aperture, etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 3:53

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