It’s long been a goal to stabilize our cameras as much as possible in order to capture the most crisp, clear photos. Methods have been elusive though – many of us think we need to spend an arm and a leg to purchase the most up-to-date and the most fancy equipment. The truth is, we really don’t need to shell out much cash at all to get what we’re looking for. In some cases, sure, you’ll need to proper equipment, but in others, you’ll get away with spending no money at all. In this post, I’ll cover both some situations where both of these cases apply.
Free Methods to Keep Your Camera Steady
Use a table top. I’ve done this forever. When I need to take a photo of something indoors and need something very stable to keep my camera steady because of the slower shutter speed, I look for a table top. Tables are super solid and give the room necessary to angle up and down and rotate around.
Use a glass, stack of books, a pillow or a rolled up pair of jeans. The point here is that when you need to raise your camera slightly off the table, there are a number of household items that will fit the bill. Some of these items are inherently stable, such as the glass and the stack of books, but other aren’t stable at all, such as the pillow and rolled up pair of jeans. This is where a pro-tip comes into play.
If you’ve decided that you need to lift your camera off a stable object and you’d like to use something like a pillow, but are concerned that pushing the shutter button will cause too much camera shake, don’t worry. Help is here. There are two great tips to follow in a situation like this:
Set your camera timer. One option to keep your hands off the camera is to set your timer to take a picture a few seconds after you push the shutter button. This way, your finger won’t cause your camera to take a blurry picture.
Use a remote shutter release. I’ve been using one of these gadgets for years. You can pick one up from your favorite camera store for only a few dollars and you’ll be amazed at how often you use it. And it’s ideal for the situation I’m discussing here – perfect to keep your hands off the camera at a time like this.
Not-Free Methods to Keep Your Camera Steady
I’ve got some more tips for you, but unfortunately, these will cost some money. I’ll begin with the least expensive and continue on from there.
Use a GorillaPod. I actually have two of these. One is light duty ($19.95) for smaller cameras and the other is somewhat heavy duty ($99.95) for cameras that weigh a bit more. Both serve the same fundamental purpose – to keep your camera steady in awkward situations.
If you take a look at the picture I added to the top of this post, you’ll see one of my GorillaPods in action. It’s basically a ball and socket idea that has three legs. You attach your camera to the top, just like you would to a traditional tripod, and then wrap the flexible legs around many different types of objects. In the case above, I chose to wrap them around part of a fence. This item is really great for keeping a camera steady out in the field and doesn’t weigh much at all. And what’s really great is that you can use the GorillaPod as a regular desk-top tripod because of its compact size.
Use a camera clamp. You may have to purchase an attachment to fit your camera (you might not have to), but a clamp will add another tool to your camera bag and is quite versatile in many different situations. For example, say you have a pole, tripod, hand rail or a table available near the subject you’d like to photograph and would like to set your camera up to “cling” onto one of these. With a clamp, you can easily do this and it will add the stability you’re looking for. Simply slide the clamp over what you’ve got and tighten it. These types of gadgets are great to have around.
Use a tripod. Ah, the tripod. Every serious photographer needs one of these. The trick here is to purchase the correct tripod for what you’ll be using it for. Way back when, I purchased a tripod that was far too large for everyday use. I sold it and replaced what I had with a smaller one. I still have the second tripod today because it’s perfect for what I do a lot of, which is landscape and nature photography.
Tripods come in all shapes and sizes. And they come in all price ranges as well. My advice to you would be – if you’re a beginner, stick with a less expensive tripod. Some are really great and can be picked up for less than $50. Once you decide that photography is for you, you may want to start looking for all the bells and whistles. At that point, you can sell your old tripod to another beginner.
Now, just a word of caution – tripods aren’t perfect. While they will hold your camera steady, they will still shake a bit when you press the shutter release. To compensate for this, you can use the methods I described above, which are taking advantage of the camera timer or using a remote shutter release.
If you’re interested in reading some other opinions on how best to keep your camera steady when photographing, please feel free to take a look through these resources:
If you have any questions or comments about this post, I encourage you to leave them below. If you’re interested in more photography related articles, please be sure to visit the photography category at the top of the page.