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Keep it Steady - Avoid Camera Shake

One of the more common reasons a seemingly good photo ends up ruined is because of camera shake. Camera shake (or vibration), is simply the moving of the camera while the shutter is open, resulting in the blurring of the image. This is usually caused by improperly holding the camera or a lack of or insufficient camera support. The use of a longer shutter speed and/or a longer focal length also increases the likelyhood of camera shake occuring.

Proper camera handholding technique:

There is a photography "rule" which states that one can handhold a camera and shoot safely without camera shake by matching the shutter speed with the focal length, ie 1/50 sec at 50mm. While this can be effective, good technique must be used. These are some basic techniques which should be followed:

- keep your feet apart, one in front of the other, and knees slightly bent.
- keep your arms tucked in with your elbows against your sides.
- if possible, add a rubber eye cup to the viewfinder.
- keep the cup/viewfinder up against your eye (if your camera doesn't have an optical viewfinder and only and LCD screen, then hold the camera as close as possible to your eye).
- hold the camera in your left hand (if you're using an SLR then cradle the lens in your left hand).
- rest your right hand on the camera, keeping your finger on the shutter release at all times, and use a rolling motion to shoot (pressing the shutter release too hard will cause unwanted shake).

Types of camera support:

- use a good, solid tripod. Don't buy a cheap tripod and head. Do some research and buy a well known, trusted brand. Make sure the tripod and head can support your camera and your heaviest lens.
- when you can't or aren't allowed to use a tripod then use a monopod instead.
- rest the camera on a rock or other sturdy object, even the ground if possible.
- lean your body against a tree or wall.

A few more tips:

Mirror Lockup/Delay - some DSLRs have this feature which enables you to flip up the mirror before firing the camera. Normally when the shutter is fired the mirror flips up and the shutter opens. When the mirror flips up it creates a slap vibration which can cause some camera shake. Locking the mirror up or using a shutter delay prevents this, but it is really only useful when using a tripod.

Self Timer and Cord/Remote Shutter release - also useful when using a tripod, these features allow you to fire the shutter without touching the camera, reducing the risk of shake.

Image Stabilization - many cameras and lenses now include some type of stabilization feature. They go by several different names depending on the manufacturer, ie Nikon has VR - vibration reduction, Sigma has OS - optical stabilizer. Most of the manufacturers recommend that the stabilizer be turned off when using a tripod. Although they can and do reduce camera shake, image stabilizers are not meant to replace proper handholding technique.

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