Monday, September 7, 2009

Hold Your Camera Steadily : Horizontal

How you grip the camera is often ignored and seen as unimportant. But is it really? Can you hold your camera steady? Even if you are holding it for longer times, especially if it is a DSLR with a heavy lens – won’t you get tired?

One of the first things anyone – having bought the camera – should learn is how to hold it properly to capture sharp images.

Correct grip is very important because it makes your camera more comfortable to hold, steadier and therefore it is easier to compose the images through the viewfinder (without shaky and tired hands).

Exactly how you should grip your camera will depend upon what type of digital camera you are using (DSLR or compact camera) and personal preference.

However, keep in mind that only with the use of tripod one can ensure sharp images. It is good to learn how to make a “human tripod” with your body and hands, when you don’t have a real tripod at hand.

Please note that this article was written with primarily DSLR owners in mind, but adding as well some instructions for the compact camera owners.

This is the first in the series of articles talking about the ways to support the camera. If you have missed the introduction, you can read it here. OK! Let’s start!

Basic standing postures

Horizontal orientation: standard posture

Your left hand is used as a support and bears most of the camera weight. Lay the camera on your hand, gripping your fingers softly around the lens. Always try to find the gravity of the camera (if the lens is long, you might be holding the lens and not the camera body at all). You should be holding the camera comfortably like this.

Your right hand is used for controlling the camera settings: hold the front of the camera (where the grip is) with three fingers, while resting your forefinger on the shutter release button and your thumb griping the back of the camera. If you would have let go of your left hand now, you should be holding the camera easily and comfortably with your right hand.

When you are holding camera comfortably with your hands, press your elbows (both of them!) onto your chest to create support for your hands. This way you create a human tripod. If this is the first time you hold your camera this way, it might feel uncomfortable at first.

O.K. Now the last step: bring and hold the camera firmly against the forehead. As you can see from the image, the head is also leaning towards the camera at the same time.

Horizontal orientation: common mistakes

Here are four common mistakes on holding the camera:

The worst you can do is to hold it with only one hand. You have no support for the camera! Don’t be a model and hold it with both hands!

Second very common mistake is not to support your hands with your elbows, letting them fly around your body, as well as just holding the camera and not the lens as well.

Oh, and have you noticed the camera strap not being around the neck? What are you going to do if you drop the camera (chances sharply increasing when not having a good grip of the camera)? Buy a new one? ; )

It is easy for most people to understand how to place the right hand, but the left hand? One just isn’t sure where to put it!

Most commonly the fingers are loose around the lens, usually the fingers facing up with the thumb at the bottom (second picture). They can quickly show up in front of the lens and on the picture accidently. Additionally, they do not provide any support for the camera (to the contrary, the left hand should be bearing most of the weight).

Horizontal orientation: other postures

For me it is the easiest to hold the camera as described above, but there are also some other postures. Here is one of them:

What you do is rest the camera on your arms (try to find centre of gravity), holding right elbow up (I have seen it holding it down, how very tiring!).

This position allows you to move smoothly around horizontally. The inconvenience is that your left hand is used and you cannot change any settings on the lens.

You can use this posture when shooting whole day and would just like to change the position of your hands to rest them.

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