Camera/Lens supports the quest for steadiness

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 mechanism.

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 hand holding.

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.



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