More ways to hold a camera steady when a tripod isn’t possible

How to hold a camera steady: lock your elbow

Recently, when musing on ways around the Olympic photography rules we suggested three ways to hold a camera steady when, for whatever reason, a tripod isn’t available. Such was the positive response to those tips that we’ve come up with 5 more!

How to hold a camera steady: lie low

Camera
NIKON D2X
Focal Length
80mm
Aperture
f/4.5
Exposure
1/100s
ISO
100

1 Lie low
Lying prone is hard to beat. Place your elbows shoulder-width apart, position them as firmly as possible in the ground if it’s soft (divots are ideal in this respect) and then use both arms and your body to support the camera, much like a human tripod.

If you find that you need to lie prone a lot, consider investing in a foam camping mat, as it will be more comfortable and will protect your clothes.

 

How to hold a camera steady: on bended knee
Camera
NIKON D2X
Focal Length
85mm
Aperture
f/5
Exposure
1/125s
ISO
320

2 Get down on bended knee
This isn’t as stable as lying prone, because it requires some balance, but it has the added advantage of giving you more height, and it’s still better than standing up straight.

With the weight of your SLR supported by your left hand, rest your left elbow on your left knee for added support, and ensure that the weight of the camera is over this knee.

It also helps to keep your right knee out wide and your left foot as flat as possible. A gardener’s kneeling pad is useful if you use this stance a lot.

 

How to hold a camera steady: lean in
Camera
NIKON D2X
Focal Length
85mm
Aperture
f/4
Exposure
1/30s
ISO
100

3 Lean in
A wall or tree can provide a brace for you, and, by extension, the camera. Having something to lean against greatly improves your chances of getting a sharp picture. And of course the usual rules regarding tucking your elbows in to support the camera apply here too.

 

How to hold a camera steady: lock your elbow
Camera
NIKON D2X
Focal Length
85mm
Aperture
f/5.6
Exposure
1/125s
ISO
320

4 Lock your elbow
If you’re using a long lens and there’s nothing nearby to lean on, try supporting the lens on your left elbow and gripping your right arm above the wrist.

This creates a surprisingly solid support, and at the very least helps take some of the weight of the lens, reducing vertical shake.

 

How to hold a camera steady: use a bean bag
Camera
NIKON D2X
Focal Length
85mm
Aperture
f/2.8
Exposure
1/500s
ISO
100

5 Bag it
Short of using a tripod, a beanbag is arguably the most stable option of all, so long as there’s somewhere solid to put it.

As well as protecting the camera from scrapes and moisture (if used on the ground), it also creates a kind of cradle for the camera body or lens to nestle in.

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