Avoiding Shake - How To Hold A Digital Camera :: Digital Photo Secrets

Avoiding Shake - How To Hold A Digital Camera

by David Peterson 39 comments

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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  1. Becky Ann Luschei says:

    Camera shake is a real problem as a person grows older. I was born with a shake, to begin with, but have learned to compensate for that. Another hurdle I must work with is that I no longer am able to look through the viewfinder because of an eye problem, so the monitors the digital cameras come with these days are a real boon for someone like me. I still keep my camera close to my, elbows close and I hold my breath A LOT! This article validates the techniques I already use!

  2. Dennis Labonte says:

    Many modern DSLR cameras also have an option to use an infared remote (a modern day twist on the old cable release). I was doing a family group portrait for Christmas cards and even when I wasn't in the shot, I still used the remote just to avoid any shake of pressing the shutter release while the camera was on the tripod. The remote is a lifesaver.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. David Peterson says:

    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.


  6. Terry says:

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

  7. 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

  8. 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.....

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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About David Peterson
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+.