How to correctly hold your SLR camera

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OK, so you might think this is obvious but while on holiday last month I was shocked to see how poorly people hold their cameras!

Now it’s not just that you look a right amateur when you’re holing it out in front of you, it actually will improve both your comfort and the quality of the photographs. If your camera is shaking because you can’t hold it still then unless you’re on a fast shutter speed you’ll be getting blurred shots.

So watch this video, even if you think you’ve got it sorted. Zoom your lens as far as you can and see how stable you actually hold it. Then apply my tips and see if it makes a difference.

 

Especially useful for low light conditions

Yes, if you’re in low light on a program mode, the camera will give you a slower shutter speed and so you’ll want to be able to hold it steady.

If you are able to get a great shooting position you’ll find you can shoot on lower shutter speeds anyway and get away without blur.

I surprise people sometimes with how slow a shutter speed I can shoot at and get away with good, still images. For example I take the photos at our church when we have a production on and I can zoom in to 200mm, shoot around 160th of a second and still get lovely images. This shouldn’t be possible without a tripod but with practice you can really develop a stable stance.

 

Another quick tip for shooting images like this is to control your breathing! Slow, calm breaths and hold it when you take the shot, like you would in air rifle shooting for instance.

ISO 1250, 200mm, f2.8, 1/160

ISO 1250, 200mm, f2.8, 1/160

Patience

There will be occasions where you’re waiting for a shot and need to be comfortable. For example, a kids football match. You might be tracking the ball through the viewfinder waiting for something exciting to happen and you need to be comfortable or your arms will ache and the shot will be lost simply because of poor positioning.

Another might be watching a butterfly or insect and you don’t want to move as you’re focussed in tight. If you aren’t working off a tripod it’s again important to be ready waiting but comfortable too.

So this is simple advice but ignore it at your peril!

Let me know what you think and if you have other tips I’d love to see them in the comments below.

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  • Anne

    It’s a shame more compact cameras don’t come with a viewfinder these days as I’m sure it would help all those holiday snappers you saw while you were away! Great tips for new slr users especially if they have a long lens to cope with. I always remember my dad telling me to keep my ‘elbows in & feet apart’ no matter what camera I was using.

    • Adrian

      Sounds like your Dad gave you some good advice there Anne 😉
      I wasn’t referring to compact camera users holing it out in front of them, these were guys with SLRs! I think that’s the problem, people upgrade from compacts and hold the SLR the same way, but as your Dad would agree, it’s a very different stance required.

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