How to Use Exposure Delay Mode on Nikon DSLRs

Nikon DSLR photographers will have come across the “Exposure Delay Mode” camera setting. This can help eliminate camera shake caused by the mirror mechanism. Although Exposure Delay Mode can be a great feature, many photographers misunderstand it. They end up using it incorrectly or even not using it at all. This article will discuss Exposure Delay Mode and show you how it can help reduce camera shake and produce sharp images.

1) What is Exposure Delay mode?

The most modern Nikon DSLRs include an “Exposure Delayed Mode” feature that helps reduce camera shake caused by the DSLR mirror mechanism. Also known as “mirror-slap”, it is available on many models. The mirror mechanism is large and bulky and can swing up to allow light onto the sensor. This can cause blurry images, especially when the shutter speed and focal length are short. You can reduce vibrations by turning on the “Exposure Delay Mode (EDM)” feature. The timer can be set to 0.2 to 3 seconds depending on your camera model. After the shutter release is completed, the mirror will be raised, and the camera will wait for the expiration of the EDM timer before taking the image. Here’s what happens if the shutter release is engaged and EDM is set to 3 seconds.

  1. Mirror is raised
  2. Camera is allowed to wait for three seconds. This allows the mirror-induced vibrations in the camera to slow down. Shutter remains closed.
  3. To let light into the camera and capture the image, the shutter must be engaged (front and back shutter curtains are drawn down).
  4. Mirror comes down
  5. The rear and front shutter curtains are restored to their original positions.

EDM can reduce mirror slap, especially when you shoot at slower shutter speeds. Mirror Up or EDM can be used to reduce blurry images caused by camera shake when using a tripod to take photos.

EDM can be combined with other camera modes. This is what’s amazing about it. EDM can be used in conjunction with a Self Timer. It also works with Live View. Please see the below information for details on camera behavior when using different modes.

2) How to enable Exposure Delay Mode

EDM can also be activated via the Custom Setting menu on Nikon DSLRs. It can be found under Menu-> Custom Setting Menu-> Shooting/Display -> Exposure Delayed Mode as shown below.

Nikon Exposure Delay Mode

You will see a sub-menu that allows you to choose between 0.2 and 3 seconds depending on your camera model.

Exposure Delay Mode Setting

3) Programming Exposure Delayed Mode to a Buton

Many photographers, including me, prefer to program buttons on their cameras for easy access to EDM. If you use the rear button with the Nikon D7500 or D500 cameras, you can assign the Preview button or the Function button to trigger EDM.

Assign Button to Exposure Delay Mode

You can visit Menu->Custom Setting Menu-> Assign Fn button / Assign preview button -> Press + Command dials -> Exposure delay mode. After you have assigned EDM to a button you need to press and hold it. Then, use the rear dial to toggle between timers or turn off the feature.

This will make it easy to modify EDM in the field. It is also possible to make access to EDM easier by adding it to your camera’s “My Menu”, then assigning a button that will take you to “My Menu” in a single click. The first method is preferable to using the camera menu. This allows me to keep my gloves on in cold environments.

4) Exposure Delay Mode vs Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter

EDM is a different process than Electronic Front Curtain Shutter. EDM can reduce mirror slap vibrations while EFCS only deals with shutter shock vibrations. In order to reduce, or even eliminate camera shake from a DSLR camera’s camera mirror and shutter, it is advisable to use both EFCS and EDM.

5) Exposure Delay Mode vs Mirror Up

Mirror Up and EDM can both do the same thing. You raise the mirror and let it remain there until vibrations are reduced. The main difference is that EDM can be used in conjunction with almost any camera mode including Mirror Up. EDM acts as a timer for image capture . EDM doesn’t raise the mirror when you use Live View. Instead, it acts as a timer to capture the image.

Mirror Up with EDM must be used twice. The first release raises and locks the mirror, while the second releases captures the image and lowers it. The main advantage of using EDM with Mirror Up mode is that you can take pictures without the need for a remote trigger or shutter release cable. You can trigger the shutter using your fingers when EDM is activated and Mirror Up mode selected. The shutter release is activated by raising the mirror (if EFCS is turned on, the front curtain shutter must also be raised). After that, the EDM timer will be engaged. After the timer is up, the camera will take the image and then the mirror will fall. The delay between the time you press the shutter release again and the actual image capture allows vibrations to calm, which results in sharp images. For more information on the various combinations of EDM/camera modes, see below.

6) Exposure Delay Mode Vs Remote Shutter Release

EDM is a powerful feature that reduces camera shake. I have stopped using remote shutter releases in the field. A remote shutter release is no longer necessary for me to take long exposures. With cameras like the Nikon D810 or D850, there’s no need to use a remote shutter release for long exposures. If I lose my remote shutter release cable, or don’t want to plug it in, I can simply set the camera to “Time”, which is one click beyond “Bulb”. The two dashes appear as two dots . I then use my phone’s timer for measuring exposure length. The exposure is stopped by pressing the shutter release button one more time. This can be done for as long as my battery lasts.

Let’s look at the different camera modes and EDM combinations and find out which one works best in the field.

6.1) Exposure Delayed Mode + Single/Continuous / Quiet Releasing Modes

EDM can still be useful even if you don’t use Mirror Up. It is also very helpful when using other modes like Single, Continuous and Quiet. To reduce camera shake when shooting from a tripod it is best to use EDM at least one second before you start. EDM with a timer of 1 second or more will reduce mirror slap if you’re shooting in Single, Continuous, or Quiet modes. It is important to remember that EFCS cameras are not compatible with EDM + Single, EDM+ Continuous, or EDM+ Quiet modes.

Camera Behavior – Mirror raises as soon as shutter release button is pressed. Front curtain shutter is closed since EFCS has been disengaged. Camera waits for the expiration of EDM timer before taking the picture. Mirror comes down.

6.2) Exposure Delayed Mode + Self-Timer

EDM + Self Timer mode is my personal favorite on older Nikon DSLRs. It reduces the initial vibrations from me hand before the mirror is raised. This is what I use when shooting with my Nikon D800E / D800E. EDM + Self Timer is not available on D7500, D500 and D810 cameras. EDM + EFCCS can be used on the Nikon D850 in three modes: Quiet (Q), Mirror Up (Mup), and Quiet Continuous(Qc).

Camera Behavior: The shutter release button presses the shutter release key to activate the self-timer. The timer is over and the mirror is raised. (The front curtain shutter is now closed since EFCS has been disengaged). After the EDM timer has expired, the camera captures the image. Mirror comes down.

6.3) Exposure Delayed Mode + Mirror up + EFCS Off

This is a bad combination, even if EFCS is available. The vibrations of the shutter mechanism and the mirror are both reduced.

Camera Behavior. The first shutter release raises immediately the mirror, but the curtain shutter is still closed since EFCS has been turned off. The camera remains still and waits for the next shutter release. The camera releases the shutter again, waiting for the expiration of the EDM timer. After that, the image is captured, and the mirror falls.

6.4) Exposure Delayed Mode + Mirror up + EFCS on

This combination is ideal for all Nikon DSLRs with EFCS. Nikon DSLRs with EFCS can also be used EDM + Quiet/Quet Continuous Release Modes + EEFCS On to eliminate all camera shake.

Camera Behavior: The first shutter release raises the mirror and the curtain shutter. EFCS has been turned on. The camera remains still and waits for the next shutter release. The camera releases the second shutter, waits for the expiration of the EDM timer, then the image is captured. After that, both the rear curtain shutters and the mirror are taken down.

Notice:

Live View makes it possible to see the behavior of EDM + Mirror Up with the Nikon D850. Live View mode requires that the shutter release be pressed only once to take a photo, while older cameras such as the Nikon D810 need to be triggered twice.

6.5) Live view + Silent Shutter Mode + Auto-Timer

Only the Nikon D850 has Silent Shutter Mode, also known as “Electronic Shutter” The Nikon D850 is only available in Live View mode. To set the camera up, press the “i” button and navigate to silent live view photography. After that, select “Mode 1. The shutter mechanism will not be engaged once the camera is turned on. Mirror Up and EFCS are unnecessary as the mirror has already been raised and the shutter mechanism disabled. This feature can be used in conjunction with Self-Timer. However, one could also use it with EDM timer.

7) The Best Settings for Different Nikon DSLRs when Shooting from a Tripod

What are the best settings for shooting with different Nikon DSLRs based on the above? Let’s take another look.

Older cameras without EFCS and EDM (D7000-D7300/D800/D800E/D3-D4S, D700-D800/D800E):
Exposure Delay mode (1-3 seconds) + self-timer, or live view + exposure delay mode (1-3 seconds).

Latest cameras with EDM/EFCS (D7500/D500/D810/D5):
Exposure Delay Mode (1-3 Seconds) + EFCS on + Mirror up, or Live View + EFCCS On + Mirror up

Nikon D850
Exposure Delay Mode (1-3 Seconds) + EFCS on + Quiet/Quiet Continuous/ Mirror Up, Live View + Live View + Mirror Up, Live View + Live View + SilentShutter Mode + Self Timer (when subject does not move).