mirror dampening

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Does anyone have any thoughts on mirror dampening between the Leica R4 and the R3. I've read that the R3 is superior in this regard.

-- Brooke Anderson (dbanders@videotron.ca), January 24, 2002


"Dampening" means to make damp. "Damping" means to supress vibrations.

-- Peter Hughes (ravenart@pacbell.net), January 25, 2002.

Actually I ended up getting an SL, but the R3 would have been my second choice.

I don't know if it's mirror damping specifically, but I got much crisper results with both the older (SL/R3) cameras than any of the times I tried the R4/5/6/7s. Hand ergonomics and overall weight and size can also play into this, because a comfortable grip and high body mass have a damping effect in addition to whatever mechanical damping is built into the camera.

The R8, for all that it's a mite big in MY hands, feels much more like the SL than the small Rs in this regard.

-- Andy Piper (apidens@denver.infi.net), January 25, 2002.

Leicaflexes have a very sophisticated *crank arm* mechanism to reduce the speed of the mirror just before it reaches the end of it's travel. This is an expensive and effective design and much more sophisticated than the strip of foam used on my Nikon F's of the same period.

I suspect the R4 also used the foam approach.

-- Bud (budcook@attglobal.net), January 25, 2002.

The R's from R4 have a pneumatic mirror damper, no foam strip. I'm not sure about the R3 as I haven't looked into the throat of one for a while. Don't be fooled by the sound or feel of the "kerchunk"...most of that is the mirror *returning* down to the viewing position, which takes place after the exposure and therefore has no effect on image blur. The R's damping arrangement is no less effective than the mechanical type in the F5 (one of the best)but even that body as a mirror lock-up. My personal advice re: this issue is this: If you want the maximum image sharpness *at any speed*, use some form of camera support. At speeds from 1/8-1/30 use a mirror lock or prerelease as well (R6, 6.2, 7, 8). Or if you insist on handholding and want the sharpest images from an SLR, buy even the cheapest EOS rebel and an image-stabilizer lens.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), January 25, 2002.

The R3 is larger so might be easier to hold steady comapred to the R4-6 design, but the mirror on the smaller cameras is absolutely fine and I have never felt the need to lock the mirror up on lenses up to 180mm. As Jay says the noise is the mirror on its way down when the shutter has already closed.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), January 25, 2002.

As Peter so gracefully put it: "dampening is to make damp" and "damping supresses vibrations"

Well, dampening also means: deaden or surpress. We are all perfectly fine to refer to "mirror dampening", or the mirror box's mechanism which dampens the vibrations caused by the mirror rising and falling. This could be by means of a cam (in the Leicas) or mirror foam.

In music - damping is often used to mean: slowing or stopping of vibrations. In physics - damping refers to the decrease in amplitude.

Let's not get all our knickers in a knot about this. I have found that damping is more commonly used in discussions of Physics or music. That's all.

So on with the show.... ;o )

-- Brooke Anderson (dbanders@videotron.ca), January 25, 2002.

Thank you all for some great feedback.

It seems the R3 and R4 use the pneumatic or cam to raise and lower the mirror. The mirror has already begun to slow before it reaches the top of its travel... no foam. I have purchased the R3, because I like the bigger body (a little heavier the the R4-7's) The mass of the body itself I think will help as well. Also, the spot metering has a sharper cut-off.

I've also heard the a good wooden tripod and good mount will help. I've started with two lens: 50mm f2 Summicron (Canada), and a 90mm f2.8 Elmarit (Wetzler). I can't wait to start shooting. Cheers.

-- Brooke Anderson (dbanders@videotron.ca), January 29, 2002.

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