6 Ways You Can Make Your Hand-Held Shots Better

It's not always practical to use a tripod while shooting documentary subjects. In run-and-gun situations it's important to be nimble, meaning that you will spend a lot of time shooting hand-held. Here are some things you can do to limit unwanted camera shake from your footage:

  • Use a lens with OIS (Opitcal Image Stabilization). This feature can be turned on or off via a switch on the side of the lens and it works remarkable well to counteract camera shake. There are two things to keep in mind with OIS lenses: First, they're more expensive than their non-OIS counterparts. 2) Second, they aren't as fast, meaning that you won't be able to open the aperture as much as other lenses in low-light situations.
  • Don't use the zoom. Standing at a distance from your subject and then zooming in only amplifies camera shake. To fix this, use a wide focal length and physically move closer to your subject.
  • Maintain as many contact points as possible. Two hands on the camera are better than one and will give you better results. Adding a camera strap around your neck and a viewfinder to the camera body will add two more points of contact between you and the camera. The more you can add, the steadier your shot will be.
  • Maintain a wide stance. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and allow your knees to bend. This will give you the solid foundation and the flexibility you need to reduce camera shake.
  • Keep the camera close to your body. I like to keep my elbows tucked in to my sides while shooting hand held. This really helps me keep the camera steady.
  • Lean up against a solid object. Finding a tree, column, or wall to stand against while shooting hand-held is a great way to maintain a steady shot. Just don't get too comfortable. Remember to move around and get the coverage you need.