Avoiding Shake – How To Hold A Digital Camera

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Avoiding Shake – How To Hold A Digital Camera

Digital Point and Shoot Cameras have a wonderful LCD screen that gives you a preview of your shot. This is really great when learning to take better photos, as you can see what the photo will look like before you take the shot.

However, it creates a very big problem. By keeping the camera outstretched in your arms (to see the LCD screen), you aren’t supporting the camera much. Your arms (and thus the camera) tend to move around. Not by much, but it’s enough to create a blurry image – particularly if the surrounding light is low. (Why? Because in low light the camera keeps the shutter open for longer. See my blurry photo tips for fixing that problem.)

The best way to prevent shake (and the resulting blurry images) is to use a tripod. But if you don’t have one, or it’s inconvenient to use, try these tips.

Here’s the correct way to hold your camera…

  • Bring The Camera Close To You
  • Hold In Both Hands
  • Bring Your Elbows To Your Side
  • Hold Your Breath
  • Look for Extra Stability

Bring your camera close to your face and use the optical viewfinder (if your camera has one) to compose the shot rather than the LCD screen. This way, your camera is steadied by your body.

Hold the camera in both hands, and keep both elbows close to your side to give your camera the most stability. This turns your body into a kind of make-shift tripod.

If your camera doesn’t have an optical viewfinder, use the screen to compose and then bring the camera to your face. Or keep your elbows close to your body and move the camera a foot (30 centimeters) away from your face. This way your camera is still supported AND you can see the screen.

Just before you take the shot, take a breath. Hold it while taking the shot.

Finally, look for some extra stability by leaning against a post or wall. You’ll be surprised how much this can reduce blurry images.

There are other ways to reduce shake in your images like increasing your shutter speed, or using special image stabilization lenses. But holding the camera close to your body is the cheapest!

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About the Author ()

David Peterson is the creator of Digital Photo Secrets, and the Photography Dash and loves teaching photography to fellow photographers all around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @dphotosecrets or on Google+.

Comments (45)

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  1. Elle says:

    Do you wear a belt? Adjust the camera strap for the distance between your belt and your eye level. Attach the strap to your belt or loop it through your belt for more stabilization.. almost like putting your foot in a loop of a string.

  2. Ink, LPN says:

    Thanks so much for all your articles about reducing blurry pics! I hate it when that happens to me & now I have some ways to fix it!

  3. Yes, a remote shutter will help, but the easier thing to do is to use the shutter delay so you can press the shutter button and have the photo taken a few seconds after you press it, once your hand has finished moving.


  4. Terry says:

    Should the availability of a remote shutter device be a consideration when buing a camera?

  5. mick c says:

    I disagree with holding your breath – you’d be possibly self conscious about doing so and it might cause more camera shake – breathing out – yes – taking deep breathes before hand – yes

  6. Martius says:

    Mostly everything has been said about stabilising your camera and pushing or squeesing the button, also concentrate to remain in the position for that fraction of a second longer and not rush the shot. About image stabilisers in new generation gear, they need to be turned off as soon as your camera is being used on a tripod or other solid type of support as the sensors will start to “hunt” for movement once none is found and then induce shake. They default to “stabilser” off or a bypass setting when used on time delay and remote or cable release but cannot identify being stabilised by a tripod or beanbag yet, i think…..

  7. Linda Uy says:

    There’s another way to steady the camera when hand holding is to improvise by using a long sturdy string. Here when I don’t have a tripod I will loop the string under for me to step on and stretched it up to my eye level, making it taut and take the shot. I find it does help eliminate the shake that causes blurry pictures! Long cotton shoe string, macrame, etc works. Add the other tips like ramping up the ISO; turning on the stabilization feature; turning on the timer etc helps too.

  8. Jim N says:

    Recently I shot some store photos for a magazine on my 7 mp point-and-shoot and they looked sharp until I saw them full-size when blur was evident. I’m planning to practice, use tripod and shutter delay timer to assure steadiness. Wish the digital camera had a cable release.

  9. jeff says:

    to reduce camera shake i find that if you compose your shot press the sutter button half way first it works.

  10. Tom Dillon says:

    If you DO have an optical viewfinder on your point-and-shoot camera, by all means use it to reduce camera shake. It will also drastically reduce the drain on your battery (the LCD is your battery’s greatest power user.) Tripod, yes. Monopod, yes. Do what you have to do to sharpen your images with your camera.

  11. vani says:

    For those recommending Panasonic Lumix, I bought this because of image stabilization and zoom and it is a point shoot digi camera. I got decent pics on this, but again this failed to perform for sport type photography.. I love to use my Nikon D70 SLR and use panasonic only as backup, or when
    I cannot carry all the equipment..
    Sure, you could use a tripod.. But there
    are places and times where you won’t
    bring your tripod. Panasonic Lumix is ok, but still does not compare
    to Digital SLR with interchangeable
    lenses with almost no shutter lag.

    I am with the post that
    Recommending to change equipment
    is not appropriate. Do best with what you got. You may buy an equipment to solve one problem, but its the person behind the camera that takes a great shot, not the camera. If you learn the techniques, you will get best out of the equipment you got..

  12. Nigel says:

    OH….. & remember, when you’re squatting, always make sure you have one foot under you & the other out in front… this will always give you balast & stability while still having somewhere to rest your elbows.

    Again cheers

  13. Nigel says:

    The best advise is always the simplest. I agree with David, however as we’re all aware, not everything works for every body. If you still have trouble with any of whats being spoken about here, the best thing to do is make sure you take your camera with you every where & spool off as many shots as you can (remember digital costs nothing to experiment) –PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. That being said, I have & use many different tripods & have found my monopod invaluable, even when using my 50-500mm lense. This is because you already have 2 legs & it acts as your third. As for carrying it, it’s a fantastic walking stick when you’re in the field. Even when taking portrait oriented shots, most times you’ll find something to rest its foot on…..

    Happy shooting to all

  14. Anggie says:

    hi All..
    Just to share my knowledge in this issue.. yep, few tips and trick above really helpfull in reducing the blurry images. esp. by lead on the wall or elbows on my knees, and also using Tripod.

    For Ramesh, thought that you shud increase the speed, and make sure that you can hold your camera with your both hands or using tripod.
    Hope it can help.


  15. Ramesh Panicker says:

    suggestion is very helpful indeed.Hands should be steady while taking the shot but what will happen when the subject is moving fast suddenly.Can somebody suggest a solution for this problem

  16. papi says:

    to reduce use e tripode or use 100-125
    shutter speed but what can i do when
    dark comes.ciao

  17. very good and informative site

  18. Liz says:

    Thank you for some great tips, and now mine which has helped tremendously, since I find my camera a little heavy (Fuji 9500). I bought a cable release and use that together with all the other tips. This ensures great pics even in low light conditions.

  19. Nicolas says:

    I agree with Meridah post, as my first DC I bought a Panasonic Lumix and it works great stabilizing the image, (this is not an ad…) if you are into getting a new camera give it a try.

    Best regards!

  20. vijayakumar says:

    best way is to find a stable place and use the self timer, especially if you are taking a night scene or using the tele mode.

  21. Robert Christopulos says:

    Ya know,

    Like one of the earlier writiers in response to this tip, I also own and use two wonderful Panasonic Lumix cameras. No, this isn’t an ad for them, but merely to say that they are great-BECAUSE-they have OPTICAL IMAGE STABILIZATION built in. This gives me an effective 3-4 f-stop leeway I never had before.

    However, there are some really great Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Samsung and other brands out there that give this same help (doesn’t matter what they call it, VR OIS, etc..) to the photographer. My advice is to do as Dave says regarding doing things to stabilize your images, AND, invest in one of the newer generation cameras that will help stabilize your images. There is, indeed, a noticeable difference in the work you do.

  22. smartipants says:

    There are two additional ways that I deal with camera shake, esp on the point-and-shoot that has only an LCD screen (no viewfinder). 1. Shoot on shutter priority mode when possible at 1/125s or faster; 2. Use the camera’s timer/delay while it’s on the tripod – by the time the camera takes the pic, it’s stopped shaking. These are in addition to tripod use and the other suggestions given. I am physically unable to hold the camera steady enough to take a pic, so I try many different tips to get good images.

  23. Al Rossi says:

    My problem is shutter lag in digital cameras taking pictures of moving objects. Even with flash there is a enough of a lag to not get what you see. Of course I could spend upwards of a grand for a Dslr to maybe correct the problem. But for action shots I will keep my Minolta Maxxum film camera.

  24. harduf2 says:

    I’ve heard about a chain “monopod”:it has a screw that fits to the trypod socket and in the other edge- a wire triangle, to put your shoe in. Straining the chain is said to stabilize the cam.
    Has anybody experienced such a devise?

  25. Hi,
    To reduce picture blurs, on point and shoot digies do not give too much pressure on to the shutter release button, press it lightly. If your camera shutter facilitatte to operate with cable release, use that even if you mount same on a tripod to avoid recording of your pulses. Thx n good day to you!!

  26. khamar Suryani says:

    It makes a difference .Yes ,Holding camera close to your body and viewing through view finder and holding a breath . Almost brings a shot with out shake. Thanks for the tip. As my hands shakes most of the time, I can now have a better shot.

  27. Sing Lin says:

    On a big ferry crossing Delaware Bay, I used viewfinder to compose picture, my two hands to hold the camera, leaned forward and rested my two elbows on the strong guard rail, spread out my two feet/legs to gain stability to take many pictures of many large seabirds, gannets, in flight and diving into water to catch fish.

  28. Stu Bazley says:

    Good tip with the bag of beans or rice. It’ll give you something to nibble on whilst waiting for the shot.
    I tend to get more shake from a light point and shoot than my heavier SLR. Also many many years of competition shooting (with a rifle) has helped too

  29. Loyce says:

    Besides a fast shutter speed, I also will use a burst of 3 frames. I find that the first shot will show some movement from pressing the shutter, the next shot has no movement, and the last shot there’s movement when releasing the shutter or bringing it from your eye before the shutter has had time to close. This is not always true, but it works about 80% of the time.

    Also, a bean bag that can be made rather inexpensively out of an old sock and some rice or beans can make a solid place to rest your camera while using the self timer to capture the image.

  30. Jer says:

    I often use the 2 second timer on my point and shoot as depressing the shutter button causes my tiny camera to move a bit and the 2 seconds is enough time to regain my composure.

  31. Theresa says:

    Im with you Bill Barber. Camera shake is what it is. Tripod, holding breath, elbows on knees, leaning on a tree, etc. all help. New equipment will still pose the same problem.

  32. Bill Baber says:

    Many of the comments above are good, but suggesting someone buy a particular camera, a particular brand or a particular brand of a piece of equipment does not to me seem to be helpful. If a person owns a camera or a tripod, it is unlikely they will go out and buy another brand of camera or another brand of a tripod merely to overcome camera shake. Just my thought after 46 years of phtography experience. I know I wouldn’t do that.

  33. Meridah says:

    Use a Panasonic Lumix camera. They are shake proof. Unblurred images without tripod at 1/125 speed and 400mm zoom!

  34. Carleton Akana says:

    The best remedy for camera shake, a very good tripod, i like the DynaTran models by Amvona of NY.
    …………message ends…………………………………

  35. Sally says:

    haha i thought i was being really weird when i held my breath for longer shutter-lag photos but there you go! It does work though :)
    Sometimes i sit down and rest my elbows on my knees when taking a photo too.

  36. Hi, to reduce camera shake I would increase the shutter speed or use a tripod. TY

  37. Richard says:

    you re, antishake tips really work for me,but the best tip i can suggest is to get a FUGI S9500 with a tilting LCD,hold camera close to your body and still see into the LCD.A superb piece of equipment

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