1a) Basically, do all mirror up/MLU shots require a tripod because the viewfinder is disabled? Any exceptions? For the most part, yes. When the mirror is up, you lose all visual reference as to how steady the camera is being held. The purpose of mirror-up is to remove the vibrations caused by the camera. If you are hand-holding the camera, you have even bigger camera-motion problems to worry about.
1b) Accordingly, do you always close the viewfinder eyepiece shutter? No, not always. I may cover it with a hat/glove. I may just stand between it and the sun just using me to create a shadow. The idea is to keep out the strong light.
2) Self-timer usage only with a tripod? Please confirm and elevate my understanding. The purpose of the self timer is to get your hands off the camera before the shutter is tripped. You would normally do this when you don't have a cable/wireless release with you.
Cable/wireless release or self timer The purpose here is to keep your hands off the camera so that you do not cause any vibrations. The self timer would not normally be your first choice.
Exposure Delay Mode or Mirror up The purpose here is to remove vibrations caused by the camera's mirror movement. Normally I find that the delay is good enough for what I am doing.
Live View Good for getting very accurate focus. Requires lots of interaction from the user. I have not found a need for this yet, but that is just me.
My combos If I am using a tripod, there is a 99% chance I am using a cable release for the vibration control and for ease of use. If the subject is static, I am probably using the exposure delay mode. (EDM obviously interferes with moving subjects like fireworks and light trails.)
For hand-held shots, the solution for camera movement/vibrations is a faster shutter speed. VR can help to an extent, but how much it helps will depend on how steady your hands are to begin with.
---------+---------+---------+---------+---------+ Joseph K Seattle, WA, USA
I predominantly use the D800 without a tripod, and I have been getting pictures that are tack sharp when viewed a 100%. IMHO, the most important factors for getting sharp captures are:
Accurate and precise focus - I use LiveView with MF at high mag (mirror is always up in this mode). A good lens - I mainly use MF prime lenses. Fast shutter speeds - At least 1/(2F), but even for wide lenses I try to stay at least at 1/100s. Even "static objects". like leaves or grass tend to move. Apertures - Wider than f/8.
All the other points you mention - I believe - are of secondary importance.
Maybe substitute the word "support" for "tripod". It could be a beanbag or anything you rest your camera on.
>1a) Basically, do all mirror up/MLU shots require a tripod? No. when you use live view, your mirror is also locked up. you can shoot video or stills this way, handheld or on support.
>1b) Accordingly, do you always close the viewfinder eyepiece Only if direct sunlight on it or bright light sources/reflective surfaces behind. And when I am standing off to one side with a remote. Usually I just shade it with my hand, taking care not to touch the camera and cause movement.
>2) Self-timer usage only with a tripod? Please confirm and >elevate my understanding. Pretty much. Useful for static subjects when you don't have a remote cord/transceiver. Useless for moving subjects
>d) Live View Nice for low/high angle shots when you can't get your eye to the finder....and for very precise focus when zoomed in.
>Please share you preferred combination complete with >settings. Cable release, tripod, Mirror delay for slower shutter speeds, Auto ISO off. Manual focus when doing macro.
>Is there any combo that would be considered overkill or >redundant? depends how obsessive you are
If direct sunlight or bright reflections fall on the back of the camera, the viewfinder needs to be protected. Using the eyepiece shutter is one approach. More often, I simply shade it with my hand. If you fail to shade the viewfinder, especially with long exposures, you can get light leakage that ruins the image. Light leakage can be as simple as changing the exposure, or it can create overexposed areas on the image that are difficult or impossible to correct.