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A camera shake can ruin an otherwise perfect photograph. This can be heartbreaking, especially if the photo opportunity was a once in a lifetime chance!
A camera ‘shake’ refers to those times when you slightly shake or jolt while taking a photo causing the finished product to be slightly blurred. This destroys the sharpness of the image and leaves you with an amateur looking blurred photo that looks out of focus and is useless for professional purposes because it lacks the clarity to do the subject justice.
It’s not only still shot photographers that can suffer from camera shakes as the problem is equally important to address when you are recording video footage too!
Camera shake can be caused by unsteady hands, an overly heavy camera and even by using the wrong shutter speed. It’s a fairly common problem that photographers and videographers face however there are some very useful solutions that will help you to eliminate the dreaded camera shake from your work.
Best Techniques to Reduce Camera Shake for Camera and Video.
- Try Using a Tripod: When I am shooting in Philadelphia, I try and avoid using the tripod. It is additional equipment that I have to carry (I prefer quick in and out because safety is an issue in certain neighborhoods). But if you are frequently finding that your photos are slightly blurred and out of focus because of shaking then you can use a tripod to help you support the camera and keep it completely stable. Whether you chose to use a full size tripod or a smaller, lightweight travel model, you are guaranteed to get great results! There are a wide range of tripods available on the market and something for everyone so you will be able to find an ideal fit for your needs. A tripod will help you to keep the vibrations, movement and shakes in your photography to a minimum. Using a tripod is particularly helpful when you are recording video footage. You may need to get a more versatile tripod for videography so that you can properly pan, sweep and move the camera around as required.
- Choose the Right Shutter Speed: If you’re holding the camera and find that you keep getting shakes in the photos then you could try to increase the shutter speed on the camera’s settings. By using a faster shutter speed you can significantly reduce the risk of shakes in your work because the exposure will be shorter. Try to use the fastest speed possible on your camera to get the most benefit from this method of reducing camera shake in still photos.
- Use a Remote Release: A remote release is used to trigger the camera to take the shot without you having to physically touch it. This will certainly help you to reduce camera shake and when used in conjunction with a suitable tripod the results are crystal clear photos every time. Depending on what kind of camera you have you may even be able to link your phone or a tablet device to your camera to trigger the shot by remote control. Another way to take a photo without holding the camera and risking shakes, is to use the camera’s automatic self timer. To use the timer you simply select the time limit you want and then the camera will take the shot at the end of the countdown. The self timer can be used with the camera on a tripod for the most stable shots or else you can place it on a secure surface.
- Hold the Camera Properly in a Good Solid Stance and Control Your Breathing: This may sound obvious but it’s an often overlooked aspect of photography. When you are taking a photo you should hold the camera firmly with two hands, stand in a stable stance and try to regulate your breathing. One trick that you can use to get your breathing right is to breath in fully, then exhale half of the air so you can hold yourself perfectly still for a few seconds while you take the photo. Other people suggest that you inhale, then take the shot, then exhale. You’ll need to experiment with these various techniques to find what works best for you. Remaining conscious of your breathing and its patterns will help you to reduce the camera shake in your photos by timing the shot in tune with your breathing. For a good stable stance you should usually have your legs about shoulder width apart. This will stop you swaying while you are taking a photo and reduce shakes in your photography.
- Use the Environment to Help Support Your Camera: If you are out and about and don’t have a tripod then you can always lean or balance the camera on a wall, on the back of a bench or other features of the urban environment. Be careful if you do rest your camera against concrete and other rough surfaces to avoid scratching the bottom of it. One way to stop your camera getting scratched as you use objects for support is to bring a piece of cloth or even a small bean bag that you can place beneath it while you are taking your photos.
- Inbuilt Image Stabilization: One of the major advantages of a good quality digital camera is that it may well have inbuilt image stabilization technology. This automatically reduces the shake in photos and will eliminate the impact of any unwanted movement that occurs while you are shooting. These days I shoot with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera. The image stabilization is excellent. This is an extremely helpful tool that will improve your photography and keep your shots crisp and clear even if there is a slight shake because the technology will compensate for you!
- Lens Stabilizer: You can also get lenses that have inbuilt image stabilization technology which helps to fine tune the clarity of your photos and leaves you with shake free shots. This is especially important if you are using a powerful zoom or telephoto lens. You can usually turn on the Image Stabilizer in your lens by selecting the ‘Active’ mode for the IS setting. If you are taking photos from a moving car or boat on the water then it’s an essential feature that will help you to produce the very best shots possible (I mostly use the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO lens which has very good image stabilization as well).
- Take Multiple Shots: This is a great option, again for digital cameras, whereby you can take multiple shots of a scene in a rapid succession. This means that the composition will be captured in several photos which will allow you to go back afterwards and choose the best one. This will almost always leave you with at least one perfectly clear and sharp photo. Once you have decided which is the best shot you can simply delete the others to save memory space on your camera.
Reducing Camera Shake for Photo and Video.
There are many ways that you can reduce the shake in your work however the best advice is to employ multiple techniques simultaneously. You definitely need to learn what pattern of breathing works best for you and find a stable standing position where you can hold the camera steady.
Make the most of your camera’s functionality and consider getting a digital camera with image stabilization technology that automatically helps to remove the shakes in your photos if it’s a consistent problem for you.
Many people have naturally shaky hands and so in these cases the best option might be to use a tripod in your photography work. In most situations you can easily use a tripod and for portability you can get folding ones that are lightweight and easy to pack. Whether you’re shooting in a studio, in the city or in the natural world you can find the right tripod for your needs.
Whatever you do though, don’t let shakes in your photography put you off and keep trying new stances, breathing patterns and tools such as tripods to find a camera system and technique that works perfectly for you!
Does your camera have image stabilization technology?