Vibration reduction - just how low can you go?
(click on image to enlarge)
Yesterday I trekked up to Minnehaha Falls in northern Georgia. I had visited there in the fall but was looking to see what it was like in the spring. Before I continue, I should say that no self-respecting nature photographer would do what I was about to do, but the curious part of me decided to give it a try. Most all nature photography always involves small apertures for maximum depth of field and that nearly almost always obligates you to select a slow shutter speed on the camera. The only realistic way to accomplish this is to use a sturdy tripod. Of course the key word being "realistic." I decided not to be "realistic" and try hand holding my camera to the slowest possible shutter speed without causing any loss of sharpness in the "non-moving" portions of the frame. To do this I chose to use my Nikon 24-120 AFS VR4 lens. The lens is unique in that the Vibration Reduction technology actually enables the user to hand hold the camera below conventionally acceptable slow shutter speeds. Other camera manufactures have similar technology built into their lenses. Canon calls this "Image Stabilization."
Knowing that the desired effect of blurring the water could only be achieved with a slow shutter speed, I made my adjustments and hoped for the best. This shot was taken while I was in a crouched position. I held my breath as I squeezed off an impossibly low shutter speed shot. I glanced at my camera's LCD after the shot but knew that the only way to confirm sharpness would be on my large monitor when it came time to edit. To my surprise, I was able to get several sharp shots during my experiment. This one was taken at 1/5 sec. at f/14. In the end, while I don't advocate this type of technique for nature photography, it does go to show you just how effective Vibration Reduction technology can be in extending the slow shutter speed boundaries of a lens.
Nikon 24-120 AFS VR4 lens, 31mm, ISO 400, 1/5 sec. @ f/14, exposure compensation -.03