Like film cameras digital cameras are also sensitive to movements and shakings while shooting a photo. If the digital camera moves while the shutter is open the result will be a soft or blurry photo. Usually camera movements are very small and in high shutter speeds the camera does not have an opportunity to move enough in order to distort the digital photo. However in some scenarios such as slow shutter speeds, low ambient light and macro or high zoom photos even the tiniest movement will result in a blurry digital photo.
As a general rule photos that are taken with slow shutter speeds or high zoom values should be taken using a steady platform. The best steady platform is a tripod – but when a tripod is not available (for example when you travel and you do not want to carry a bulky and heavy tripod with you) there are some other methods and alternatives that you can use as a steady platform. Here are a few:
- Lean the camera against a steady surface: you can use almost any surface that is steady in order to stabilize the digital camera. Such surfaces can be anything from a table, a wall, a bench or a light pole. Make sure that the surface is indeed stable by trying to shake it a bit with your hand. When taking the photo put the camera against that surface and apply some force (for example your weight) to make sure it does not move.
- Place the camera on a horizontal surface: another option is to simply place the camera on a horizontal surface. The surface needs to be flat and stable. When you shoot the digital photo you should gently press the shutter button making sure that the camera does not move and then let go. Gravitation will make sure that the camera stays stable on the surface. The main problem with this method is that the camera might shake or bounce when the shutter button is pressed. To overcome this problem you can use two methods: delayed photo – set the camera to timer mode using the shortest time for example 2 seconds. When you press the shutter button the camera will start counting and will have enough time to stabilize before the photo is actually taken. Remote control – if you have a remote control use it to initiate the photo shooting instead of pressing the shutter button.
- Image stabilizer enabled lenses: an expensive option that requires thinking ahead is the usage of lenses that include an image stabilizer. This technology can be implemented in a few methods for example using a floating optical element that compensates for movements or by using special software that controls the CCD sensor. Regardless of the technology such image stabilizers can effectively compensate for small camera movements and are commonly used by professional photographers taking high zoom photos.
Regardless of the method you use to stabilize your camera one thing to remember is that the more photos you take the higher the chances that one of them will be perfectly sharp and in focus. If the scenario is not easy to shoot and you are afraid that you might get blurry digital photos take your time a shoot a few photos using different stabilization methods and camera settings. You can later on browse through the photos and choose the best one.