How to Hold a Camera

How to Hold a Camera

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One of the common problems that many new digital (and film) photographers have is ‘camera shake’ where images seem blurry – usually because the camera was not held still enough while the shutter was depressed. This is especially common in shots taken in low light situations where the shutter is open for longer periods of time. Even the smallest movement of the camera can cause it and the only real way to eliminate it is with a tripod.

Adding to camera shake is a technique that is increasingly common with digital camera users of holding the camera at arms length away from them as they take shots – often with one hand. While this might be a good way to frame your shot the further away from your body (a fairly stable thing) you hold a camera the more chance you have of swaying or shaking as you take your shot.

How to Hold a Camera

Tripods are the best way to stop camera shake because they have three sturdy legs that keep things very still – but if you don’t have one then another simple way to enhance the stability of the camera is to hold onto it with two hands.

While it can be tempting to shoot one handed a two hands will increase your stillness (like three legs on a tripod being better than one).

Exactly how you should grip your camera will depend upon what type of digital camera you are using and varies from person to person depending upon preference. There is no real right or wrong way to do it but here’s the technique that I generally use:

  1. Use your right hand to grip the right hand end of the camera. Your forefinger should sit lightly above the shutter release, your other three fingers curling around the front of the camera. Your right thumb grips onto the back of the camera. Most cameras these days have some sort of grip and even impressions for where fingers should go so this should feel natural. Use a strong grip with your right hand but don’t grip it so tightly that you end up shaking the camera. (keep in mind our previous post on shutter technique – squeeze the shutter don’t jab at it).
  2. The positioning of your left hand will depend upon your camera but in in general it should support the weight of the camera and will either sit underneath the camera or under/around a lens if you have a DSLR.
  3. If you’re shooting using the view finder to line up your shot you’ll have the camera nice and close into your body which will add extra stability but if you’re using the LCD make sure you don’t hold your camera too far away from you. Tuck your elbows into your sides and lean the camera out a little from your face (around 30cm). Alternatively use the viewfinder if it’s not too small or difficult to see through (a problem on many point and shoots these days).
  4. Add extra stability by leaning against a solid object like a wall or a tree or by sitting or kneeling down. If you have to stand and don’t have anything to lean on for extra support put your feet shoulder width apart to give yourself a steady stance. The stiller you can keep your body the stiller the camera will be.

Holding a camera in this way will allow you flexibility of being able to line up shots quickly but will also help you to hold still for the crucial moment of your shutter being open.

Another quick bonus tip on how to hold a camera – before you take your shot take a gentle but deep breath, hold it, then take the shot and exhale. The other method people use is the exact opposite – exhale and before inhaling again take the shot. It’s amazing how much a body rises and falls simply by breathing – being conscious of it can give you an edge.

Of course each person will have their own little techniques that they are more comfortable with and ultimately you need to find what works best for you – but in the early days of familiarizing yourself with your new digital camera it’s worth considering your technique.

One last note on how to hold a camera – this post is about ‘holding a camera’ in a way that will help eliminate camera shake. It’s not rocket science – but it’s amazing how many people get it wrong and wonder why their images are blurry.

There are of course many other techniques for decreasing camera shake that should be used in conjunction with the way you hold it. Shutter speed, lenses with image stabilization and of course tripods can all help – we’ll cover these and more in future posts.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Kameryn Wilson September 10, 2013 05:37 am

    To hold the camera like a pro, with your right hand grip the right side of the camera and your left hand should be supporting the bottom of the camera to reduce the chance of having a blurry image.
    The best way to stabilize a camera of course is to use a tripod. If a tripod is not available to you then grip the right hand side of the camera firmly, and support the bottom of the camera with your left hand. If you want to go a step further then lean against something to hold yourself steady. Your first shot may be blurry if the camera was not being held still enough as the shutter goes off, or if you are holding the camera with one hand. To reduce the chance of the image being blurry try increasing the shutter speed and holding the camera as previously mentioned.

  • Amateur Digital Photography July 6, 2013 06:51 am

    This article should be a very good reference for those photographers who give lots of importance to IS / VR technology. I always tell them, photographers used to take great photos even then when there was no image stabilizer technology.

  • Ketan June 4, 2013 03:35 pm

    I agree with B Ryant. Holding your breath in or out can also create a pressure to click fast, as you cannot hold your breath for too long. And the focus shifts from clicking to breathing. I just let my body drop loose and consciously direct my mind to the object/subject to be captured. My shooting style is to quickly shoot rather than wait long to get it all in focus and right. This helps minimize opportunities for camera shake as the shot is over in just a few seconds. And more often than not I seem to get it right this way.

  • waqar May 19, 2013 04:23 am

    I am going to buy a new camera this month or next one I think , Ok whenever PAPA give me money :)

    Thanks for the post it was helpful !!

  • B ryant February 23, 2013 06:45 am

    When training to shoot in the Marines we learned to shoot inbetween breathes without holding the breath in either direction. This was because we learned to match our breathing to the target so we "rose and fell" at the same time they did and because while holding your breath will help alot for the first shot it raises your blood pressure and if you have to do it multiple times can actually cause you to start to shake, get dizzy and/or pass out. In short: Breath in, shoot. Breath out, shoot.

    I've been using this technique with my camera and it seems to be working really well.

  • George Slusher December 7, 2012 08:03 pm

    @Jing Hong:

    Practice. You can learn to use your right hand. I'm quite right-handed, but learned to use my trackball with my left hand when preparing for rotator cuff surgery on my right arm. That was 2005 and I still have the trackball on the left.

    @janet boring: What kind of camera do you have? You should be using autofocus, in most cases. It's usually a lot more accurate than manual focussing, with a few exceptions (mostly very close macro shots and shots in low light). Look at your photos. It's quite possible that they problem is camera shake, not focussing. Out of focus images will look "soft," while blur from camera shake is often "smeared." One way to find out is to put your camera on a tripod and see what happens. If the photos are suddenly nice and sharp, the problem is camera shake. (Photos with incorrect focus may have an area that IS in sharp focus, just not what you want to be in sharp focus.)

    What shutter speed are you using? Are you using image stabilization (or optical stabilization or vibration reduction--different manufacturers use different terminology)? If you, you should be, if you can. Otherwise, you need to have a shutter speed no slower than the reciprocal of the 35-mm or "full frame" equivalent of the focal length. To figure that, you need to know the "crop factor" of your camera. (It doesn't depend upon the lens for DSLRs, just the camera.) For example, the Canon APS-C DSLRS (Rebels, xxD, 7D) have a crop factor of 1.6. A 100mm lens is equivalent to a 160mm lens. That would suggest a shutter speed of at least 1/160 sec. For point-and-shoot cameras, check the camera specs for the 35mm equivalent focal lengths.

    Here's a ROUGH guide for shutter speeds without image stabilization. WITH image stabilization, you can go a bit slower.

    - Wide angle: no less than 1/30 sec
    - Medium telephoto: no less than 1/100 sec
    - Telephoto: no less than 1/200 sec

    You can check the shutter speed on your photos using your camera's playback function or some software on your computer, like iPhoto or the software that came with the camera.

  • Janet Boring December 7, 2012 02:55 pm

    when focusing it looks perfect to me but when I take the photograph it comes out blurred. My question is could eyesight make it look in focus when it actually isn't in focus? I am farsighted. On ocassion if it is cold out I end up with camera shake.

  • Jing Hong November 3, 2012 12:47 pm

    Any tips for left-handed guy? I felt uneasy when taking vertical shot using my Sony @330.

  • Bob Dale September 10, 2012 01:42 am

    Using a monopod has been a success for me, I have used the Manfroto 561BHDY with the 561BHDV head. It is a video tripod that give great stability with its 3 stabilizing feet. Look it up and see what I'm talking about. It lets you shoot in low light levels and be quick at the same time

  • Leland December 30, 2011 08:02 am

    Hey, Benjamin (Dec.24,2007), sheesh! "We must break this trend..."?
    I find holding the camera vertically with the shutter button on top allows me to press my (right) hand into my forehead for stability, prevents my left eye (which is also open) from being blocked by the camera body. And my left hand supports the lens, with my left elbow tucked into my chest for stability.

  • george slusher October 23, 2011 02:16 pm


    If you get a tripod with a ballhead, it should have a notch that allows you to tip the camera over into the vertical or portrait position. Some cheap tripods with "pan and tilt" heads can also be used: you release a catch and can tip the camera over. On the other hand, tripods designed for VIDEO usually don't have this capability.

    Most decent tripod heads have been able to hold the camera in the portrait position for decades. I have a Velbon tripod I bought in 1977 that can do it. Do note that, often, one buys the tripod legs and head separately. That allows one to tailor the combination to particular uses. I have 4 tripods with built-in heads, 4 sets of legs (various sizes and load capacities), 3 ballheads (again, different load capacities and weights), 2 gimbal heads and a 3-way head, plus "tabletop" tripods, Gorillapods, and the like.

  • Daniel October 22, 2011 09:57 am

    I am going to be taking some night photoshoots, so that means slow shutterspeeds and I wanted to know if there's a way I can still take pictures holding my camera vertically while minimizing movement. Last I know of, they don't have tripods that can hold a camera vertically.

  • The addicted eye October 14, 2011 07:12 am

    It took me a long time to get to grips with camera shake and I have not quite got rid of it completely. When I do remember and have the time to do things properly, these are the things I do.
    Compose the picture
    Concentrate on keeping a firm left hand grip around the lens and relax the right hand with the index finger on the shutter button.
    Consciously drop my shoulders (I discovered I was quite tense when clicking the shutter)
    Exhale slowly through my mouth, squeeze the shutter button.

  • Paul March 28, 2011 05:51 am

    For P&S cameras without viewfinders I adjust the neck strap so I can hold the camera just far enough away from my old eyes to focus on the display but keep the neck strap taught against the back of my neck. I then dig my elbows into my sides. I hold the strap against my neck and keep my feet at or just outside shoulder width (if there's nothing to lean against). You kind of turn yourself into a tripod with your body.

    In breath holding I was trained in firearm shooting (over 32 years ago) to not take breaths and hold or take a breath & exhale but to just stop the breath where ever I was in the breath cycle... and squeeze the trigger... or in our case the shutter button.

    Now days I always keep a mini tripod around just in case and just use the self timer.

  • Lape March 6, 2011 01:50 am

    I know this may sound funny but I recently found that my hand shakes a lot holding a camera if I'm hungry! So I guess a good tip would be to make sure you've had a good meal before taking a whole load of photographs :-)

  • KRISHNAKUMAR NAIR February 18, 2011 11:42 pm

    XABIR, for power saving, click photos using viewfinder and not LCD screen. Always keep LCD off when not clicking, and take out the batteries when finished clicking for the day.

  • Biomech February 14, 2011 06:08 am

    xabir, If you are taking a few photos you should leave the camera on. Your camera will use more power turning on and off repeatedly than it will just in idle mode. You should also find an option in the menu to have it automatically turn itself off after 5 or 10 mins.

  • karthiban February 9, 2011 06:02 pm

    is it wrong to look the viewfinder with left eye?

  • xabir February 9, 2011 12:04 am

    i've bought a new digital camera & wanna know after using camera should i put off the batteries from the camera?after capturing a photo should i turn off my camera?i wanna know how i increase the life time of my camera & batteries?i'll b great full if any one reply me>

  • Fletcher February 4, 2011 06:58 am

    i used the two hand method and it works great especially if you already have shakey hands. i don't like tripods there to much work to set up and take down

  • Demelza January 14, 2011 12:57 am

    I managed to pick up a smaller tripod which collapses down to something like 30cm in length. It came with a nylon carry bag with a strap, I find it fairly easy to have with me all the time. It doesn't extend quite as high as my Vivitar, but is better than trying to not breathe for those low light shots ;-)

  • James Mossman December 29, 2010 04:44 pm

    Remember to hold your camera such that your had does not shade the built-in flash. Especially when you hold the camera verticaly!

  • Biomech October 2, 2010 01:56 am

    Just a point to note on the breathing issue -coming from a military/sniper background :).
    Holding your breathe isn't the best way to go about it.
    Your best bet is to take your breathing into consideration and what you will find is that once you breath out there is a slight pause before the next breath, THIS is when you take the shot. If you hold your breath you can actually increase camera shake as you slowly start to struggle for breath.
    As you can imagine, shooting a weapon requires much the same skill, it is often worth looking into shooting positions that the armed forces use to increase stability. :) HTH

  • Sime September 15, 2010 10:04 pm

    Mazen - I'm left handed too, but use my right hand for the shutter button (standard) you should try it out, it's easy.


  • mazen September 14, 2010 11:00 pm


    I am learning a lot from your webiste and i am planning to buy a DSLR camera but I am left handed
    how should i hold it and is their any left handed DSLR camera ?

    Thank you

  • ....shelby... September 2, 2010 07:11 am

    i guess if you dont have a tripod use a table? or something stable around you to help take the

  • Food Lover September 1, 2010 09:31 am

    That was really helpful thank you so much, but the link to the "previous post on shutter technique" is not working.

  • brian August 23, 2010 08:16 am

    Now this article completely doesn't apply to me..... my left hand shakes INSANELY!!! i take most of my pictures with either the tripod w/ 2 second self timer, or i take it one handed (at arms length with the Canon G9 or obviously close to my face with my D70). I think with a live view lcd camera, the arms length thing is a personal preference and i can't see how anyone can say, "you should do this." you should do whichever yields the best results for you. I shoot at arms length, one handed with my elbow locked because it's the ONLY way i can hold a camera steady.
    It's frustrating as hell but i've learned to use everything to my advantage, from fence posts at work, to a garbage can lid at the Big E, to rocks or stumps in the Adirondacks.

  • Guess the Lighting August 21, 2010 01:07 am

    Seems simple, but if you don't know, you don't know. If you're interested in seeing how famous photographers light their images, take a peek at

  • SnapShotSandy August 18, 2010 09:53 pm

    It all depends on how much light is available. The camera has the capability to perform up to 1/3200 sec. You will need somewhere around 1/1600 for most of what you are trying to photograph. So, you may need to push the ISO to as high as 1600 if the light is poor. Your camera doesn't give you the option to change the f stops which you would want to drop to it's lowest setting, in your case f 5.0. I hope this helps.

  • ROCK August 16, 2010 10:34 pm


  • george slusher August 16, 2010 12:33 pm


    "Not sure if anyone mentioned purchasing a tripod or not ..."

    If you read the comments, you'll find tripods mentioned dozens of times. The article, however, was about how to hold a camera more steady WITHOUT a tripod.

    "Always use a tripod."

    Sometimes, that's not convenient and may be impossible. In fact, sometimes, it's illegal (e.g., in many museums). Try to follow a rapidly-moving subject with the camera locked down on a tripod. Try shooting a wedding, where the photographer has to move around a lot--even a monopod isn't very useful in that case. Shoot a soccer match with the camera on a tripod--you'll get maybe 3 shots instead of 3,000.

    As I mentioned in a post above (1 Aug 2010) and earlier, I use three tripods, two monopods, a TrekPod GO Pro, bean bags, ground supports (e.g., Naturescapes Skimmer), strap/chain "pod," window mount, etc. I have several ballheads, a gimbal head, a "fluid" video head, even a 3-way head. All of those are useful in some situations; none are appropriate nor even possible to use in ALL situations.

    "Set the ISO to the lowest setting..."

    If the subject isn't moving, that can help improve the quality. However, try capturing a horse galloping at 20 mph in an indoor arena at ISO 100. At ISO 1600 & f/2, I got 1/250. If I had used ISO 100 (the lowest on my Canon 30D), the shutter speed would have been 1/15 sec. In that time, the horse would travel (1/15) *(20*5280/3600) = 2 feet. Rather a lot of blur, wouldn't you expect? At 1/250, it was 1.4", not quite still (the legs move even faster) but useable if one is 30-50 ft away.

    "By default, the ISO is set to Auto ..."

    Some cameras don't have an "Auto ISO" setting---including a lot of DSLRs.

    Don't make the assumption that everyone takes the same kind of photos you do. In fact, most people probably don't.

  • Smokinphoto August 16, 2010 04:14 am

    Great Article.. Learned a lot from comments as well as from reading the blog.
    Not sure if anyone mentioned purchasing a tripod or not but : Let me repeat. Always use a tripod. For the highest quality photographs, either with film or digital cameras, always use a tripod to steady the camera. & Set the ISO to the lowest setting: By default, the ISO is set to Auto which lets it fluctuate between the lowest and highest setting that the camera is capable of, depending on the amount of available light. Lower ISO is higher quality with less digital noise. This is equivalent to ASA film speed where ASA 25 or 100 speed film is higher quality than ASA 400 speed film because higher ASA films have more grain. Digital noise is equivalent to grain. The less the better.

  • camera quick release wrist support brace August 11, 2010 04:55 pm

    Very nice, i have seen people position the monitor closer to the camera on top. you might want to look into this. its alot easier for you to see. or you can place it on the hotshoe on top.
    Very good idea! Congratulation!
    Thanks for camera quick release wrist support brace.
    easy to handle.

  • Helen Oster August 1, 2010 04:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the recommendation for Adorama Camera - and in case you aren't aware, Adorama will always make every effort to price match (shipping AND unit cost) to any reputable retailer!

    Plus, I'm only an email away if you need any advice or after-sales support with an order from Adorama.

    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

  • george slusher August 1, 2010 07:59 am


    "Where" isn't much of a problem, once you decide WHICH to get. Then, you can search with Google and on eBay, Craigslist, etc, to find the best price. (The price can be a major part of the decision as to WHICH to get, of course.) B&H, Adorama and Amazon are generally good sources for most photo gear, but look around.

    STAY AWAY from any sort of "combination" tripod/monopod. I've had two and the best I can say for they is that they function well to prop open a door . Otherwise, they're simply crap. A monopod is more like the LEG of a tripod, but you don't normally attach a head to the leg of a tripod.

    Also, "low cost" can easily mean, "replace it later with a more expensive model which you should have bought in the first place." So, be aware.

    First, about tripods.

    It will depend upon what you want to do. If you're using a point-and-shoot camera and a camcorder (or using the camera as a camcorder), you can do OK with one of Sunpak's myriad models. They vary in size and features, but generally have reasonably good construction and quality. They have "pan and tilt" heads, which work well for video (the tilt is up and down, not right and left) and can do well for still photos, though they're not as convenient as a ballhead. Be sure that the head will "flip" to the vertical/portrait position--some designed just for video don't. You can probably find a decent Sunpak tripod at a local electronics store like Best Buy, if you're in the US.

    If you're using a DSLR, consider why you'd want mate a $30 tripod with a $600 camera and a $1000 lens (or even a $500 lens). You'd do better to spend $150-200 on a nicer tripod and ballhead. (Avoid the "3-way" heads and especially the "pistol grip" heads, as they are harder to use and heavier.) You can generally trust Manfrotto (Bogen), though their tripods are not the cheapest. (They're a lot cheaper than a Gitzo, though!) Their ballheads are fine, but they use proprietary quick release plates that are less convenient and harder to find than the more ubiquitous Arca-Swiss system. Still, I know several pros who use Manfrotto heads and really like them. Which tripod & head you'd get would depend upon the weight of your camera, heaviest lens, and external flash. Get a tripod with at least 50% higher "load" rating. If you expect to get even heavier lenses in the future, find out what they weigh and make your choice to accommodate them.

    Now, for the monopod. You do NOT need a head for a monopod, in general--the monopod will screw right into the tripod socket on the camera. I have heads on my monopods, but that's because of some special needs I have in using them, including following a moving object (ridden horses jumping, etc). Again, Manfrotto makes very nice monopods that aren't too expensive if you stay away from the carbon fiber models. Some people like the Manfrotto flip-locks, while others prefer a twist-type lock. (This applies to both tripods & monopods.) The flip-locks are faster to adjust if you change your position a lot (e.g., kneeling, standing, sitting). Twist locks CAN be bit more secure (flip-locks can get out of adjustment) but only if you tighten them well.

    There's really no upper limit on what you can spend on a tripod (like a lot of photo gear!). Here's my "main" setup with current prices (not including shipping). I may have paid less, as I bought some items used.

    Feisol 3372 carbon-fiber tripod + retractable spikes: $524
    Markins M-10 ballhead + cover + Kirk snap collar: $415
    Really RIght Stuff leveling plate (the tripod doesn't have a built-in level): $45
    Jobu Designs Jr 2 GImbal Head + Op/Tech cover: $287

    Feisol CM-1471 carbon fiber monopod: $99
    Giottos MH 1302-210C head: $84
    Kirk Quick-Release clamp: $60
    Think Tank Big Stick Monopod bag: $35

    Trek-Tech Trek Pod Go Pro (functions as a walking stick, monopod and can be self-standing): $230
    Kirk Quick-Release Clamp (makes everything compatible): $60

    Sunpak 7001DX tripod for video (no longer available, but like 8001): $25

    However, I also still have a previous setup that was a lot less expensive, but worked well before I got the really heavy lenses:

    Fancier FT6824T carbon fiber tripod: $102
    Triopo KK-1 ballhead (much like Benro, only cheaper and less sturdy): $36
    Triopo carbon fiber monopod: $55

    Add in the Sunpak tripod for video (it actually came with my camcorder) and it's under $220.

    There's a lot more, as well, including a RRS L-plate for the camera, Wimberley lens plates for every collared lens (Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, 70-200mm f/2.8L, 300mm f/4L, and Sigma 180mm Macro), specialty supports (e.g., various "beanbags" for the top of my car & the ground, small tabletop tripod,

  • SnapShotSandy July 31, 2010 11:11 pm

    Where can I get a good quality, low cost, tripod.monopod combination with a good head?

  • George Slusher July 16, 2010 09:59 pm

    @ cheap louis vuitton handbags:

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  • cheap louis vuitton handbags July 16, 2010 06:19 pm

    one technoque that i have found useful in reducing shakes is the ’string-pod’.
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  • E.G. July 15, 2010 02:38 am

    Good tips.

    And, I love my Sony DSLR for the simple reason that stabilization is built right into the camera. No matter what lens I use, I always have the advantage of an extra stop or even two of virtual "aperture".

  • adam s July 12, 2010 03:26 pm

    I thought I knew how to hold a digital camera, but I figured I'd read this entry anyway. And I stumbled on the few posts that mentioned Joe McNally's 'Da Grip'. I'm sure there is more than one way to do it, but I find this really made me reconsider how I hold a camera. I'm sure i"ll pick up other techniques along the way, but this blog entry and Joe's suggestions were extremely helpful. I'm stunned.
    I watched the you tube

    I still can't believe how helpful this was. I'm a big guy 6'4, left eye and no motor driven camera so it's not easy to do the shoulder thing he suggests, but it's so helpful I'll be doing it anyway.

  • Treon July 7, 2010 08:57 am

    cool picsxxx

  • Hots June 15, 2010 08:17 pm

    its justlike ur newly born baby.hold it right and in a good mannrrer

  • Funny Video Compilation June 11, 2010 12:39 pm

    Thanks for this post! I'm new to photography and had been stumbling around photography sites.. Surely this would be a great help for newbies like me!

  • dattai May 30, 2010 02:10 pm


  • george slusher May 21, 2010 09:37 am

    @Gus Dwi

    That's a great question. Point & Shoot cameras are hard to hold steady, especially if they don't have a viewfinder. The worst way to hold them is the way I see so often--at arm's length, bobbing all over the place. (Well, I guess there are worse ways, like standing on your head and holding the camera with your toes.)

    Try this: put your elbows against your sides. Hold the camera cupped in both hands so that the base of your palms supports the camera. Do not grip it tightly. As pistol shooters know, that causes tremors. Hold the camera just below your eye level, so that you can see over the top. Keep your head up--don't bend down. Adjust the zoom as needed. When you're ready to shoot, take a deep breath, let out some of it, then hold your breath as you gently, smoothly press the shutter. (You may find that the middle finger of your right hand is more convenient--try it.)

    Some will complain that they can't focus well on the LCD at that distance. I probably have as much or more problem than most, as I'm 62. However, you do NOT need to focus clearly on the LCD! You're not checking the camera's focus (except to see WHERE it's focussing--the Canon cameras will usually indicate that with a green box). The camera's LCD is not high enough resolution to even come close to checking focus accurately. Instead, you're most concerned with the framing--what is in the photo. Of secondary concern would be the exposure settings the camera chooses. (Often, people choose not to even display that information, as they find it confusing.)

    On the other hand, many of these cameras have pretty good image stabilization systems--be sure that's turned on. The key is to practice--try different methods and see what works best.

  • Gus Dwi May 18, 2010 06:11 pm

    Good Tips...but, how to hold point and shot digital Cameras like canon powershot sd4000is ?
    I hane bought new one.

  • Margaret May 9, 2010 10:53 pm

    These are good tips and a good reminder for us. Another trick I use is to squeeze the trigger, rather than pushing down on the shutter release. I go half way down, pause, then gently squeeze. This and holding my breath seems to help with the blurrs.

  • Graphic designer atlanta May 9, 2010 11:35 am

    you have to purchase one of those expensive things before you can lean to hold it. :)

  • Mark Gapps April 27, 2010 02:05 am

    I suffer from a generic condition known as familial tremors or essential tremor. Most people see it as the dt's or (are you nervous) I love photography and make some money out of it. I have found a faster shutter speed with the aperture to suit generally does the job for me. I also use any rigid object I can find to help me hold the camera still. I have been known to have a mate act as a tripod in the worst times. Great thing about good friends. Rapid shoot can also be a gift. At least one shot can be seen as still. LOL.. This page has helped me many ways. I hope I can help the shakey crew out there to come to grips with the idea that still photography is not out of your grasp.


  • jastereo April 16, 2010 02:24 am

    Saw it stated up above as well but it bears repeating and some more explanation. Of course use good technique, and crank the iso to whats acceptable on your camera (along with tons of great tips above) but Take Multiple Shots! I set my D90 at 3 frames a second (not full speed) and if I really love the shot and need a sharp one...take 3 shots - or more even, especially of it's kids and they're moving around as well. Taking 3 or more shots you're almost gaurenteed to have one shot be significantly sharper than the others (if not 2 of them) as blur from handshake is a somewhat random event. Doing that also takes away some of the motion from jabbing at the shutter button (as you're just holding it down for the 2nd and 3rd shots). Makes sorting through all the pics more of a pain but well worth it when you get that shot that noone else is getting.

  • Jessica April 13, 2010 06:37 am

    thanks for the tips! i'm a beginner photographer and this article helped me a lot since i just got a dSLR. i post my photos on i'd appreciate some feedback!

  • Bob Grytten April 9, 2010 09:39 pm

    Great article and advice. Another illustration help might be to hold the camera and lens like a rifle, cupping the lens in your left hand as one would the barrel of the gun, with trigger finger lightly on the shutter release - always ready to get the shot. Your newsletter is so full of important info. Thanks. We recommend it in our classes.

  • Jason Collin Photography March 18, 2010 01:43 am

    I teach these same techniques to all my beginner and even intermediate DSLR students. In fact, anytime I see someone out in public holding the lens of their DSLR like a pair of binoculars I go up to them, politely state that I teach DSLR photography lessons, then hand them my business card.

    Some of the students I have taught:

  • sss March 13, 2010 12:58 pm

    how many photos we can stitch together in panoramic option of nikon p 100?will we get a motion panorama in p100?

  • sss March 13, 2010 12:39 pm

    do u know the panoramic option of NIKON P 100 ?howz its antiblur features?will it produce a good quality picture?

  • Marker7 March 13, 2010 10:43 am

    @earl blake:
    " the bottom of the camera on your shoulder while you hold the lens in your left hand and grip the the right end of the camera with your right hand."

    Thanks for this superb tip, I just tried it out and it worked wonders!

    On my old Canon A650 point-and-shoot I had the luxury of a rotating LCD screen which made it easy to find a stable resting platform, including holding it against my stomach with the screen pointed straight up.

  • brett March 9, 2010 03:09 pm

    Very good tips and in low light a faster lens f2.8 and an ISO of 800 + with the tips from this article should be a tremendous help

  • photomatt7 March 6, 2010 01:39 pm


    thanks for your interest. here are some student photos. would love the feedback on the site. thanks.

  • 7777 February 28, 2010 05:22 am

    whats yr opinion about sp 590 & sp 800 of olympus to take a moving object ,water drops and lightning?what are the camera specification needed for the same kind of pictures?

  • Joerg Borchardt February 26, 2010 04:41 pm

    One tiny tip I miss is the "third point":
    Take BOTH hands (is said in the article) and let the camera lean against your head, one more argument against the far away holding/lifeview-technique. Most people do it this way, but beeing conscios that you have a "little tripod" this way just helps my a bit.

  • pixelshots February 26, 2010 03:34 am

    it's one of the greatest problem particularly when shooting in lower shutter speeds. your tips seems good.

  • Photography Studios February 24, 2010 02:46 pm

    Here's another tip for hand holding. Keep the shutter speed you are using above the focal length of your lens to help reduce shake. Using 1/60 sec? Keep the focal length of the lens above 60mm.

  • Stephane February 5, 2010 07:51 am

    Another trick...accept to shoot under exposed to get a faster shutter release and compensate in post processing.

  • James January 24, 2010 03:45 pm

    I especially agree with the leaning agaist a solid object part. Works Wonders

  • Karen Stuebing January 14, 2010 12:01 am

    Very good tips. I can shoot at 1/10 hand held and sometimes 1/8. But I have years and years of practice and I don't even have to think about it any more. Not trying to brag on myself. Just pointing out that newer photographers have to consciously learn how to do this and this article explains exactly how to practice it. I use all these methods.

    And I also use a tripod when I have to. If I'm hiking to take a photo of a waterfall for example, once I use the tripod, I just hide it somewhere along the trail so I don't have to carry it anymore and pick it up on way back. If you do this, don't forget where you left it. :)

  • ArkyMark January 12, 2010 09:37 am

    @photomat :

    We want to see your class's progress too! What's the address?

  • photomatt7 January 12, 2010 09:33 am

    Until the end I couldn't figure how this was anything other than common sense. But since I will be teaching a bunch of 5th graders about photography, this is a totally necessary topic. Excellent post that provided me with plenty of points to address with my class.

    I look forward to blogging about the class' progress on my website. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Inside the Webb January 10, 2010 01:25 pm

    Really helpful tutorial Darren! I'm a huge fan of your blog here and ProBlogger, and you provide some really useful resources. Thanks man keep it up

  • Steve Ottaviano January 10, 2010 05:22 am

    One other tip for holding small point-and-shoots has to do with the alignment of your "trigger force." I've seen a lot of people place their thumb in a position that causes the camera to rotate slightly as they press with their shutter finger. To solve this, place your thumb under the camera directly opposite your shutter finger, and "squeeze" the camera in a straight line rather than let it rotate. This makes even single-handed shots more stable.

  • Earl Blake January 8, 2010 03:25 am

    A trick I picked up from Joe MacNally is to rest the bottom of the camera on your shoulder while you hold the lens in your left hand and grip the the right end of the camera with your right hand. It only works if you use your left eye to look through the viewfinder but I've shot sharp pics down to 1/2 sec. (1 sec. using VC) using that technique.

  • Van Marciano Art January 4, 2010 09:13 pm

    Great piece of tutorial, now I shouldn't look like an amateur trying to hold my camera, thanks for posting.

  • George Slusher December 26, 2009 05:47 am

    @robert maloney:

    Monopods can certainly be very useful. However, the article is about how to HOLD a camera--i.e., to handhold it. The article and comments don't cover the myriad other devices one might use to steady a camera.

    1. Tripod (various sizes, types, from tiny ones for tabletop to ultr-heavy-duty carbon fiber)
    2. Monopod
    3. Monopod with legs (e.g., TrekPod)
    4. Bean bag (many brands and types)
    5. Window mount
    6. Gorillapod (can wrap around things)
    7. Low mount or ground pod like Kirk Low Pod or Naturescape Skimmer or Jobu Skorpion
    8. Clamp mount like the Trek-Tech Optimount , Ultrapod Ultra Clamp, various forms of C-clamp mounts or a SuperClamp + stud
    9. Chest pod (often used for video)
    10. Strap/cord (as mentioned above)

    Those are just the types that I actually have and use. (5 regular-size tripods; compact tripod; 3 regular monopods; Trek Pod Go Pro; walking stick with camera mount; 3 sizes of Gorillapods; 4 tabletop "tripods;" Ultra Clamp; Optimount; SuperClamps; Kirk Low Pod; Skimmer; 2 window mounts; Kirk Strap pod & homemade nylon cord; chestpod; and 6 bean bag-type of various sizes & designs)

    There are others:

    11. Shoulder mount (again, often used for video, but adaptable for still cameras)
    12. Rifle-stock-like mount
    13. Boom pole
    14. Screw mount (screws into walls, trees, etc)
    15. Suction cup mount
    16. Mounts for bicycles, motorcycles, golf carts
    17. Camera stand (used in studios)
    18. Articulating arm, like the Bogen Magic Arm
    19. Flexible-arm mount

    There are probably more types that I don't know about.

    As for the monopod, dragging one around can be inconvenient, awkward, and cause you to lose shots while you fiddle with the monopod. (I should know, having used various monopods for over 30 years and having 3 in my car nearly all the time.) There are times that monopods are a BIG help, especially with large, long focal-length lenses that are hard to handhold effectively or in low-light situations. They're great if you stay more-or-less in one place for a time and shoot from one height most of the time. They can be a pain if you're moving quickly or shooting up (birds in flight), level (landscapes) and low (closeups of flowers, insects), especially if you screw the monopod into the camera's tripod socket or the foot of a lens collar. (I have Arca-Swiss plates on my cameras, so I put a quick-release clamp on the monopod. Sometimes, I use a ballhead.)

  • Robert Maloney December 25, 2009 01:55 am

    No-one mentioned MONOPODS> Are they not helpful? I carry my camera around on a light weight monopod and drop the leg when I wish to shoot. What's the problem there?? Bob

  • Everett K. Tipton December 21, 2009 03:50 am

    Five years ago I was diagnosed with recurrent Breast Cancer. This time the cancer was under my right shoulder blade. The tumor encapsulated the arties and nerves going to my right arm and hand and after treatment left my right hand with little dexterity and no feeling. And a right arm that feels like it does when you have laid on it all night and cut the blood flow off. Since there are no cameras available with left hand controls. I was afraid that I would never be able to use a camera without the use of a tripod. I can grip with my right hand but have to be careful of not dropping things because of the lack of feeling. I cannot however trip the shutter release. The solution I came up with was to hold the camera with my right hand. Wrap my left hand underneath the bottom of the camera bottom and lens and use the index finger of my left hand to trip the shutter release. By keeping my elbows against my sides this method creates a very stable platform for handheld shooting.

  • joe December 19, 2009 03:23 am

    great replies to this post with valid points, but I fail to see anyone refer to the actual stance of your lower half of your body...legs, feet ,hips etc all play a major part in your balance and stability anyone with training in boxing and martial arts can relate to the importance of stance.

    merry xmas to all.

  • Julie December 18, 2009 05:42 am

    For most of us (can be an age thing...) our hearts beat slower when we are breathing/have breathed out than when we're breathing/have breathed in. A second of time where our blood isn't going to pulse out and more our hands. Takes a lot of timing thought/awareness. I try to do this as often as possible because I have a tremor and any little bit helps.

  • Denver Engagement Photographer December 18, 2009 03:18 am

    I totally agree about the whole breathing thing, it's amazing how much breathing can really affect your photography.

  • osvetitelni tela December 15, 2009 06:16 am

    Don't forget to shoot more than once. It is better when you have the option for several shots while holding the button pressed.

  • ArkyMark December 6, 2009 03:35 am

    Well everyone's brought up all my favorite tips - even the "string-pods" (and I was taught that a chain is better too) - except this one, unless I missed it : Sit or lay down if you can!

    Anytime you lower your center of gravity, you're less likely to sway as long as you're in a stable position. I can't hold still while squatting very well, but if I sit my butt on the ground and plant my feet in front of me, I can lean my forearms against my knees and brace myself quite steady. Likewise when laying down in the "prone" position (think "sniper in the grass") you can brace yourself with your elbows - or even better, use a camera bag or your rolled-up coat as a "bean bag" in this position.

    I've actually practiced shooting as slow and still as I can with low shutter speeds... I have a Nikon D80 with a battery grip which fits my large hands nicely, and the bulky weight of it actually helps me to hold it still. (Remember basic physics : A body at rest tends to stay at rest... and the heavier that body is, the more force it takes to move it.) With a combination of bracing myself, breath control, and basically just going "Zen" as I begin to squeeze the shutter release - I've been able to shoot waterfalls at 1/8 to 1/10 and get nice results.

    Of course, down-on-the-ground is not always the vantage point you'll want - and if you've got arthritis like me, there's always the added pain of having to get back up again...

  • Franco Campese November 24, 2009 03:53 am

    Great tips for beginners as well as those still getting blurry photos

  • Raoul Isidro November 21, 2009 06:24 am

    I hold the DSLR upside down.
    It looks silly and weird, yes... but it frees up my nose from wetting the monitor screen and navigation buttons.
    I just flip the images on the computer.
    I used to do this on FILM which didn't require any adjustment.

  • Gerri November 21, 2009 05:28 am

    #4 Add extra stability by leaning against a solid object, seems like a no brainer but I really need to start doing this. I have taken so many fuzzy shots of my little girl because when I bend down I have little to no balance. Awesome tips!

  • Billy November 16, 2009 12:55 pm

    A comment on this:
    ” – before you take your shot take a gentle but deep breath, hold it, then take the shot and exhale. The other method people use is the exact opposite – exhale and before inhaling again take the shot. It’s amazing how much a body rises and falls simply by breathing – being conscious of it can give you an edge.”

    Try this: ..
    take a gentle but deep breath, half exhale and hold it, then take the shot and … (same as when shooting..)

    I do agree it's like shooting a rile... but iepends what you're shooting. Timing might not always work out that way in photography. For example - sports, wildlife...etc.

    Great post!

  • John Monro November 6, 2009 09:08 pm

    I have a Panasonic TZ7, a point and shoot, and a very good one. To steady my camera I use the straps from my small camera bag. Either put both your hands through the strap and hold the camera as usual - the straps will be around the front of your wrists - and push against the straps to steady the camera or, even better, hold the camera as usual and hook both your thumbs behind the straps, you will find the camera bag lies neatly under the camera and again you can brace your hands nicely against the pull of the straps, which in my case, as I am right handed, passes under my right shoulder behind my back and over my left. Your body is then bracing the camera very nicely. This is a similar technique that many photographers used with their SLRs and small cameras that had straps attached to either side; of course with one's eye against the viewfinder, the head also was a point of stability. Most point and shoots only have one attachment point, and not many can be used in their cases.

  • arukumar October 12, 2009 01:22 pm

    wich is the world best slr digital camera use for portrait and as well as fashionphotography. please give good suggest...........

  • MMM September 7, 2009 03:01 pm

    one technoque that i have found useful in reducing shakes is the 'string-pod'.
    This is quite a simple yet and effective way to reduce shakes and blurs. All it needs is a screw that fits into the tripod mount under your camera, a strong nylon cord that is tied to it and small metal attachment ( any metal piece the size of your palm or smaller) at the other end that you can step on and hold with your feet. The cord is essentially the length from your toes to the height at which you hold your camera. So when you screw one the bolt into your camera and hod the other end with your foot, the tension in the string eliminates the up and down movement of the camera. Now all you need to worry about is the left to right shake...

    It can carried in your pocket very easily and gives great results.

  • MeiTeng August 17, 2009 03:58 pm

    Low light photography is indeed a challenge.

  • Anthony Consiglio August 14, 2009 02:24 am

    Better you take a normal breath, exhale about half was (this will slow the heart rate) then squeexe of the shot...just like shooting a firearm! IT REALLY WORKS WELL! T.C.

  • Dianne Clark August 5, 2009 12:04 pm

    Thanks for the great tips on holding the camera steady. My husband and I took several courses in the '80's on photography - basic, close-up and darkroom. But when I got a Nikon cool pix - I found that, because there was no viewfinder and I couldn't hold it up and use my forehead etc. to stabilize the camera, my older, shakier hands sometimes just could not hold it steady enough by using the LCD screen. We have since invested in a Canon A590 and a Canon Rebel DSLR and are now taking great blur-free pictures again. So many of the smaller point and shoots actually do not have viewfinders - they only have the LCD panel to use to frame your shots.

  • Mikes Sumondong July 17, 2009 12:33 am

    I have read from ProBlogger that this is one post that made DPS rise to fame. I just want to see how simple and how basic it is and how it connected to the readers so I can copy it and do it in my own site. Thanks Darren for the inspiration!

  • Nancy May 27, 2009 05:06 pm

    Sometimes I'll go as far as to finding a platform to rest the camera on while I press the shutter release button. I'm not fond of using my tripod because I find it too restricting, so I'm always forced to find other creative ways to combat camera shake.

    It's interesting now that I have a high res digital slr, how picky I've become: on prints made from film, most of what I shot looked sharp, but with my 5D they often look fine until I zoom in and view the detail full size... ouch!! lol

  • Hjalmtyr Gudmundsson May 9, 2009 09:58 pm

    A comment on this:
    " - before you take your shot take a gentle but deep breath, hold it, then take the shot and exhale. The other method people use is the exact opposite - exhale and before inhaling again take the shot. It’s amazing how much a body rises and falls simply by breathing - being conscious of it can give you an edge."

    Try this: ..
    take a gentle but deep breath, half exhale and hold it, then take the shot and ... (same as when shooting..)

  • JC Angelo A. Estudillo May 1, 2009 09:38 pm

    THank you so much.. It's one of the problems i'm actually facing. You're site is a great help for beginners like me. Thank you. God bless you, Sir.

  • Benjamin April 10, 2009 01:22 pm

    When I was younger, my grandfather showed me a good way to keep a rifle from wobbling when shooting something (this is obviously very important for getting accurate shots), and I later applied it to photography. If you anchor the elbow of your left arm against your chest/ribs, you can get a much more stable shot. Also, breathing comes into play, but that's already been talked about here.

  • Paul Lynch April 8, 2009 04:50 am

    Breath control is just as criticle to a photographer as it is to a target shooter. As a taget shooter we are taught to take several deep breaths to build up the oxygen in our blood. The last one we exhale partially and hold. You have about eight seconds before you can notice your eyesight changing and loosing the abillity to control anything rock solid. When you are holding rock solid and you're breath too, notice the movement in the camera in time with your heart beat. This of coarse is an extreem explanation not meant to scare anyone but just to make you aware, mostly when using slow shutter speeds. One more variable for the argument of carrying a tripod.

  • digital photography April 6, 2009 02:04 am

    In my experience I discovered that different lenses require different grab for stability... for example several new Nikon lenses have zoom ring at the top of the lens, making it hard to grab lens at it's core... making this kind of combo quite unstable.

  • Donald Norris March 31, 2009 05:19 pm

    For me its all about the strap. I used to wrap it around my hand so it fit perfectly, but over time and tons of jobs, it started getting a bit carpel tunnelish. Then I switched to using having the strap attach to the back of my elbow running the length of my forearm. it works like a charm and helps offset the weight of the camera if you have to hold it for long periods of time. Just my experience. :-)

  • Jason March 24, 2009 05:55 pm

    But for me personally I like to use my right hand's fourth and five th finger to cross grip tight my left hand's fourth and five th finger for using medium and small size lens.

  • Jason March 24, 2009 05:41 pm

    Here is I consider the best way by Joe McNally - Da Grip in youtube. you have to check it out.

  • Mary March 10, 2009 10:06 am

    @ Jaime and @ cam

    lol I was thinking the same thing. I use the same techniques I learned in the army: breathing, don't anticipate the shot, don't slap the 'trigger'. The most useful technique that has carried over is wrapping the strap around my wrist once or twice. It has prevented a few nasty drops of the camera. Plus, I'm usually taking pictures of my kids playing so my camera is normally set to shoot in '3 round bursts'.

  • 10DigitalCameras February 25, 2009 05:30 am

    This post should really be called "How To Hold A Digital SLR Camera", now we are going to see all the tourists holding their point n shoots like that!

  • George February 18, 2009 09:17 am

    Re: jagdish, size of camera

    Jagdish is right: the size and weight of the camera are important. I have problems with the Canon Digital Rebel series because I have large hands (vice jadgish's small hands). I chose the Canon 30D (the 20D, 40D & 50D are the same size) PLUS the battery grip. (I remove the battery grip when I use the camera with a collared long lens on a tripod plus ballhead or gimbal mount so that it's easier to balance.)

    Re: gopalshroti, placement of shutter release
    Alas, your suggestion doesn't make good ergonomic sense, as it would require stretching the forefinger away from the hand. That would lead to greater muscle tension and greater shake. You want the shutter release where your forefinger naturally falls when holding the camera. For cameras with "grips," that's on the top of the handhold, like the Canon DSLRs, not near the "mode dial," which is on the LEFT side of Canon cameras. Canon (and, from what I've seen, Nikon) DSLRs are designed so that controls you use a lot are right where your fingers naturally fall: shutter release and the dial used to select exposure (e.g., aperture in aperture priority mode) where your right forefinger falls; the main "spin" dial where your thumb falls (it's used to set exposure compensation, most of the time); the "joystick" (used to select the autofocus point) just above it and the exposure lock and autofocus buttons just to the right of the joystick. (This is also a selling point for the Canon superzoom cameras--S3 IS, S5 IS, and the SX series. They're much easier to hold than most point-and-shoot cameras.)

    Re: Benjamin, holding in vertical mode:

    Interesting point, with some validity, at least hypothetically.

    However, when I tried it that way, the shake increased by at least two stops. The reason, I suspect, is that my hand is at a really bad angle, with the wrist fully bent back. There is a lot of muscle tension, which translates into shake. I also found it difficult to press the shutter release without the camera moving. I teach riding (dressage) and one vital principle is for the rider to keep her/his hands in a "neutral" position. That allows maximum flexibility and minimum tension. The position you describe is about the most "non-neutral" possible. I suspect that's why you see pros doing it the "standard" way. It's certainly possible to keep one's elbows in with the shutter release on top. Flopping the wrist over that way (flexing, I think) does not require much muscular effort. (That's the way my right hand was all the time for a couple of weeks after an injury to my radial nerve.) With your right elbow close to your body, lift your right hand up to just above your eye level. You'll find that the wrist naturally falls as it would holding the camera. Now, do the same with your hand below your chin. It STILL naturally falls the same way, the OPPOSITE way from holding the camera.

    Even better, though, is to use a battery grip that has the vertical mode controls on the lower right corner. It's not as comfortable as holding the camera in landscape/horizontal mode, but a lot better than twisting your wrist either way.

  • jagdish February 18, 2009 07:43 am

    I intend to carry my camera around on travels with minimal gear and paraphernalia.

    I am surprised no body mentioned the size of camera vs size of your hands / palms I found a huge difference in how a largeer camera sat in my small little hands it was heavy and cumbersome. On the other hand, a small light camera felt "absent" in my hands, so I chose to get the in-between body

    LOL - I gave up many fancy features so that the camera would feel right, now I just need to keep using the same body till it feels natural for me.

  • GSlusher February 13, 2009 02:19 pm

    Re: chiefblueass:

    That's an old trick. I first learned it at a Nikon School in Los Angeles in 1978. They suggested using a sash chain and had a supplier who made a device with the chain. (The chain has the advantage of a very high spring constant, which means that any vibrations will be very high frequency. A nylon cord, on the other hand, will "bounce" at a frequency right in the range of shutter speeds.) Kirk enterprises has a bit more sophisticated device, the Strap Pod that you can get with a 1/4-20 screw or a Kirk QR clamp.

  • chiefblueass February 13, 2009 07:07 am

    I was interested to read the different methods people use to stop camera shake while out and about in the field without their tripod, and wondered if anyone has tried the piece of string trick. Ok, stop laughing, it really works, I have done this in a couple of ways, 1. make a loop in a piece of string and put the loop around your camera lens, right at the back of the lens so it won't catch on anything, have the string long enough to reach the floor, then put your foot on the string and pull up on the camera until it goes tight, you my have to re-adjust the length a little until you get it right, 2. get a male tripod screw fit it to the tripod mount screw hole in your camera and tie the string to that.

  • WBC February 13, 2009 03:12 am

    I was doubtful at first about the link Scott posted above:

    But I pulled out the camera and tried it out - and there was a lot less shake. I am not sure I would use it all the time, but it did make the camera a lot steadier.

    One other trick I use is to wrap my elbow with my shoulder strap. I adjusted it so that if I hold it at arms length I can get it under my elbow. When I bend and tuck my elbow in, it pulls really tight and just cranks the camera into my hand / arm / elbow and sort of immobilizes the lot of them.

    There is also locking the shutter up - my Nikon has a one second delay (this only works if you have a stationary subject) so it raises the shutter, then waits a second, then activates the sensor. Supposed to cut down on the vibration of the shutter slamming open.

    Another thing I don't know if anyone mentioned, is take a few shots. That way you have a selection to go through, and while one may have some shake, chances are some won't.

    A question though: I've read that turning off VR when on a tripod is good idea - the theory is that it will actually cause a small shake when there is none... Any truth to that?


  • Dave February 10, 2009 05:27 am

    I usually shoot with the right eye, but using the technique that Scott points out I have successfully shot as slow as 1/8 sec handheld. I really recommend you try it for yourselves.

  • Scott December 31, 2008 04:32 am

    An alternate grip, perhaps works best for lefties, by Joe McNally:

    Video here:

  • George October 5, 2008 03:43 pm

    Jayce asked about battery grips. Generally, a heavier camera will be steadier than a lighter camera, up to the point where the weight causes fatigue and more shakes. My Canon 30D is a lot steadier than my Canon S3 IS and especially the almost-pocket-sieze Canon 570 IS. Also, a battery grip moves the center of mass of the camera+lens back a bit, making the system less nose-heavy and easier to hold. This is especially helpful with longer zooms, like my Canon 70-200mm f/4L. A battery grip can also make a DSLR easier to hold if you have large hands. I cannot hold the Canon Digital Rebel cameras very easily, so I needed the xxD series. Even then, my pinky is UNDER the camera without the battery grip.

    Those who use lightweight cameras have lots of options to help steady the camera, like the Joby Gorillapods and Pedco's UltraPods. (The latter are especially trim. lightweight and easier to use than the frustratingly-flexible Gorillapods.)

  • Ben August 4, 2008 01:16 am

    Blu tac wrapped in plastic in your pocket is cool if you're too lazy to carry a tripod, otherwise buy a tiny 3 inch tripod - metal or plastic. They aren't such a joke if you use them with a 2 second timer set up and touch the shutter, then get your hands off, and they're good for bracing on trees/signposts and other places you don't want to stuff your camera.

  • Catherine July 21, 2008 04:03 am

    I have never seen a camera bean bag. Where can you purchase one?

  • Mark April 14, 2008 04:16 am

    Nobody has mentioned camera bean bags. They are light as a feather, attach easily to your camera bag, and have proven to work for upto 20-30s exposures for me in low light.

    Obviously, they are not suitable for hand-held street photography, but for dark interiors and shots after sunset where is make sense composition-wise to sit the camera down rather than hold it, they present a nice option.

  • Benjamin December 24, 2007 10:17 am

    Great tips, but I wish the proper way to hold a camera while taking vertical or portrait orientated would have been discussed. I see too many people, including professionals, holding the camera with the shutter release on top. NO! The proper, most stable position for hand holding is with the shutter release on the BOTTOM, such that you can still tuck in your elbows. Pass the word, we need to break this trend!


  • Steve December 3, 2007 03:52 am

    I find that when using a long lens, I hold the camera in my right hand and push down gently while supporting the lens with my left hand and pushing UP gently. Gives nice addes support.

  • Jayce November 30, 2007 06:31 pm

    Will Battery grip help?

  • Rob November 28, 2007 07:59 pm

    From what I am reading, having a battery grip (at least for the Rebel XT) is suppose to help stabilize the camera a little better. Especially in portrait style shots. For those that have a battery grip, do you find this to be the case??

  • gopalshroti November 26, 2007 11:59 pm

    thanks for bringing the subject to the photographers'eyes and hands. i am the prey particularly with d-cameras, that comes to know when the photo is enlarged. i tried every method but tripod is the only solution for me - very difficult to carry on for general photography.

    a fair point for blur may be it is on the hand grip of camera, which doesn't give solid support.

    better placement at least for the shutter release button would be on the top of the camera body, near mode dial so the weight rests on the solid body of the camera for prosumer and DSLR cameras. i think 50% of the problem would be solved by this method.

    the problem will remain with smaller/compact cameras having only 115 to 200gms of weight whether the release is on the top of the body. so if the shutter release is set on the top of prosumer and DSLRs, the owners of these cameras may be benefitted. since in my opinion, if u get a blurry pic shoot, not to shoot at all because of post frustration/ or compulsory use tripod (god forbid in how many circumstances). thanks.

  • Apoorv Khatreja November 26, 2007 09:10 pm

    Nice Tips. I would however prefer using two hands rather than a tripod, as taking a tripod everywhere isn't feasible. Also, tripods can be used only in situations where you have planned a photograph, and not in any situation. So practicing holding your camera with two hands gives you near-tripod perfection.

  • Bruce P. November 26, 2007 06:43 am

    I do a few different things (at risk of repetition).. if its a shot I just HAVE to get, I will:

    1. Breathe in, not all the way, but most of the way, and hold.

    2. Press the camera firmly against my face while holding it with two hands, while my left elbow (the lens holding arm) is firmly pressed against my chest or side(your head is alot more stable than your arms.. trust me on this) but not too hard; you start to shake because of the resistance your counter-acting muscles have to put out

    3. Self timers significantly help eliminate shake from the gripping action your fingers must do to push the shutter button, also because you dont have to think about keeping the camera still WHILE moving and loosening your hand grip... I say always always use a timer, enough time to get still.

    4. If theres a table, or a door threshold or something of a similar stable nature, press the camera firmly up against this type of support. I've gotten pictures of a half second with success on occasion using door thresholds and support beams. Although I've never tested to see how long I could really go, it works.

    So that's my system.. if one isnt enough, add another step.. if all 4 dont work.. tripod! lol

  • digital photography November 25, 2007 12:18 am

    okay good post.
    Tip: bump up iso, and try to get shutter speed 1.6 times the current focal length. So if you are shooting at 50mm minimum acceptable shutter speed is 1/80

  • sime November 24, 2007 09:45 pm

    I have another problem with camera shake... I have been an asthmatic for a number of years and using the drugs for this has caused me to have "less than steady" hands... I have to make sure I breathe [or not] and always try and keep my shutterspeed up... When this isn't possible, I have the Canon remote - it's my best friend!.. :)

  • Mark Greenmantle November 24, 2007 09:22 am

    I use that same military technique as well, and I cannot stress enough how important it is to practice practice practice. I usually shoot at night with a very open prime lens, right down to an F1.4 and using high ISO settings, but when I want more depth of field and I am without my tripod, I still find myself taking steady shots at up to half a second or so. A fun way to get in that practice is to get yourself into nightclubs and shoot in there (if you are old enough - or like that environment) and it's also a great place to work on rear sync flash play.

  • Wes Kroesbergen November 24, 2007 05:43 am

    I don't bother taking night shots anymore unless I have my tripod with me. I recently bought the Gorillapod, and fortunately, it is small enough that it folds up nice and small into my backpack, and comes with me almost wherever I go. On top of using the tripod, I also set it to use the 10second timer, as I found that if you're on delicate footing with the tripod, it can still shudder slightly... and that's really accentuated in 30 second exposures.

  • Don November 24, 2007 03:24 am

    I purchased a Nikon hand strap for the right hand side of the camera and it has been great for me for stability and carrying.

    This is an explanation from their site;

    "The Nikon SLR Hand Strap wraps comfortably around your hand for added security and reduced fatigue. Attaches quickly and securely to the camera body using the camera’s ¼-20 female tripod socket and the camera’s right-side neck-strap eyelet. The Hand Strap adjusts easily for a perfect fit."

    It is available on their website Nikon USA, click on the Nikon Mall.

  • Shashikanth November 24, 2007 02:09 am

    I usually follow Graeme Smith's technique. this is one of the best ways to avoide camera shake. i usually use 2 seconds of self timer.

  • Cam November 23, 2007 11:02 am

    @Jamie: I was about to say something very similar - when I learned to shoot in the army, that's exactly the technique we were taught.

    There are a number of parallels between shooting a photo and shooting a target, but one of the most important (and mentioned in the post) is to not 'slap' the shutter (or trigger, as the case may be).

  • Don Giovanni November 23, 2007 09:54 am

    I typically shoot in burst mode, all 3 images cant be bad..?

  • Anthea November 23, 2007 08:55 am

    With my point-and-shoot camera I find it's essential to keep my elbows in tight. I used to hold them out wide (when not using the viewfinder) which resulted in many a blurry photo.
    I also use the "hold my breath" trick, especially for macro shots without a tripod.

  • Jamie November 23, 2007 05:19 am

    As breathing goes, the trick I use (and from what I understand a lot of police/military snipers use) is to inhale, start exhaling, then stop about halfway out, snap, finish exhaling.

  • Klaidas November 23, 2007 02:21 am

    That, and use shutter that's faster than the current focal lenght of your lens, but don't go less that 1/60 while not on a tripod.
    I myself prefer at least 1/80 or 1/100 for not moving subjects.

  • A-ten November 23, 2007 02:14 am

    I agree with the self timer, but only if your on a tripod I use that when I shot fireworks down at a local park... If you have a remote that negates the need to do this though

  • Graeme Smith November 23, 2007 01:49 am

    I'll add two little tricks I use:

    Setting the self timer can help to eliminate any movement from pressing the shutter release.

    In addition to leaning against something it can be even more effective to press the camera directly against something to stabilize it.

  • Laura November 23, 2007 01:16 am

    I definitely agree! I have actually given up taken photos in low light conditions if I have forgotten my tripod. It just doesn't pay off. I have tried everything to keep my arms still as I am holding the camera; to no avail. It only takes a small movement for it to show up on camera.

    I find it difficult to take my tripod everywhere and remember to set it up. If there was a way to take it and it not be so bulky or cumbersome, that would me wonderful. Having the EOS Rebel XT gives me a bit more room to place my hands; but of course a bit heavier than the small camera's.