Reducing camera shake

This item appears on page 55 of the August 2011 issue.

In his January ’11 “Departure Lounge,” the publisher discussed reducing camera shake. He included pictures of someone holding a camera and wrote, “In picture No. 2, the photographer is tucking her arms in and using her body as a brace. The camera will be much steadier that way.”


I would label the two pictures, “1. Wrong” and “2. Not quite right.”

In photo No. 2, the model is attempting to both support the camera and release the shutter with the same hand. This is kind of a motor skill oxymoron: clamp firmly, but squeeze gently.

The way I was taught, many moons ago, is that the left hand supports the camera and the right hand releases the shutter. With full-sized SLRs like the Nikons I used to carry, this usually boils down to having the heel of the hand support the camera base or end, leaving the fingers available for focusing or zooming.

The right hand provides a small amount of stabilization, but its primary responsibility is accomplishing a smooth, gentle shutter release. With the newer, smaller cameras, like my Micro Four Thirds Panasonic, it’s hard to use the heel of my hand, but the principle is the same. See my photos.

When I teach this to people, I tell them it will feel awkward as hell for a couple of months, then become second nature.

But, of course, keep arms firmly against the body and, I would add, the body leaning against some kind of support whenever possible.

Minneapolis, MN