Shooting the Mamiya RZ67 handheld: how much sharpness one sacrifices (over a tripod and mirror lock-up)?

Setup: Mamiya RZ67 ProIID, 110mm f/2.8 lens, Kodak Portra 160NC; focusing via the waist-level finder loupe; scanned with the Nikon Coolscan 9000 at 4000 dpi (no infrared cleaning).

Scene (click images to open larger versions in a new window):

Comparison #1: handheld vs tripod, f/5.6 at 1/125s, using optimal technique (breath holding, tripping the shutter with gentle pressure) but nothing out of the ordinary…

The tripod shot on the right is clearly sharper (no big surprise, here). Now, how about…

Comparison #2: tripod vs mirror lock-up, with same exposure settings (f/5.6 at 1/125s)

The MLU shot on the right is essentially the same, as far as I can tell.

Comparison #3: handheld vs. tripod, with faster shutter speed (f/4 at 1/250 s):

The faster shutter speed does not seem to be associated with better sharpness, when handheld (obviously this is operator-dependent, though!).

Comparison #4: just for the sake of completeness, tripod vs. MLU at f/4 and 1/250 s:


This should be the optimal combination, and apparently is the sharpest.

The conclusion? Tripod use appears to be the most significant factor involved for this operator.


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