If you are after clear, sharp pictures,
even the finest camera combined with a first rate, carefully focused
lens will do you little good if the equipment is not held steady during
the time of exposure. However, the quest for steadiness must be
tempered with good judgment. The ultimate in an unshakable support
might be a camera firmly secured to solid rock, but this arrangement
has drawback sin other respects that make it highly impractical.
The best support offering mobility and other advantages is a sturdy
tripod and the stronger and heavier the better. If you take pictures in
a studio or in and around the house, a heavy tripod is little trouble
and well worth its bulk. On the other hand, if you need support for
your camera away from home – on trips, vacations, photographic
expeditions and so on – tripod size and weight have to be balanced
against compactness and portability. Fortunately, there are tripods
available in a large range of sizes. Pick one that gives you the best
combination of strength, weight and easy handling for your particular
needs. If your interest happen to include tabletop photography (close
ups of small objects), there are short, compact tripods that will sit
on the table itself and yet support a camera and lens securely.
For those times and places where a normal tripod would be in the way
(as when taking pictures at a crowded sporting event) or too clumsy and
heavy (as when hiking in rough terrain), a unipod is ideal. A unipod
(or monopod) is, in effect, one leg of a tripod attached to a head on
which the camera or lens is mounted. It can be extended to a
comfortable height so that the viewfinder is at eye level. Side to side
sway is not completely controlled as with a regular tripod, but up and
down motion is firmly checked.
The clamp pod is another useful device for steadying a camera. It
consists of tripod head attached to a large C-clamp or similar
The clamp can be fastened to a table leg, chair, ladder, fence or
almost any object that is small enough to fit between the jaws. With
this device and small cameras stability is good, but position is
limited by the location of suitable anchor points.
Steadiness can also be achieved by merely placing your camera on a
table, chair, shelf, or fence. While not as reliable as a tripod or
clamp-pod, these makeshift supports are usually far better than simple
If you must sport your camera without any help from devices or objects,
stand with your feet well separated and one considerably ahead of the
other. This minimizes swaying from side to sides as well as from front
to back. Then, after taking a deep breath and letting out about half of
it, hold the rest of the breath and gently s-q-u-e-e-z-e the release.
Never press it so roughly that you move the camera. Use the fastest
shutter speed you can manage under the prevailing conditions. Support
is even better if you sit and rest your elbows on your knees. Better
still is the prone position (lying on your stomach) with elbows firmly
planted on the ground.
If you take the pictures from inside an automobile, come to a stop and
shut off the motor first. This will minimize vibration. You can then
rest your camera on the window frame. However, if you are taking
pictures from a moving vehicle – a car, plane or boat – avoid any
contact between it and your camera. Hold the camera in your hands, and
let your body absorb most of the image destroying vibration.