Handshake blur – do your shots suffer?

Handshake Blur Problems?

• Handshake Blur Problems? •
It is so easy to lose sharpness in your shot because your hands make tiny movements. There are simple ways to fix it. Here’s how…

Handshake blur – a cause of blurred shots.

It is not the only cause of blur, but it is more common than most learners think. Handshake blur is a devil in the camera. Or is it?

In auto modes, most of the time, the camera will cope and help keep your shots sharp. When you get more advanced and start to use manual modes then the problems arise. Most people are perplexed – their shots appear to be getting more blurred as they get more advanced. What is causing this handshake blur?

Auto modes limit your photography

Auto modes are set up to average out the conditions you encounter to give you a “reasonable” result every time. The auto mode is set up to compensate for your handshake blur. It will tend toward higher-than-necessary shutter speed for example. That will help you to freeze the shot, cutting the handshake blur. When you encounter more challenging shots the camera cannot produce the results that manual modes produce.

As you advance you want to start doing things that give you more creative control. This is when manual modes help you. However, working the camera appears to become more technical. In fact it is just responding to more sensitive settings – the ones you choose. What you may not realise is that your camera holding, stance and breathing have an impact. You need to be more sensitive to those when you hold the camera. Take everything into account – personal body movement and breathing.

Toward a handshake blur cure…

Handshake blur is quite a technical problem. The camera manufacturers have been working to improve the response to handshake blur for years. Image stabilising mechanisms are built to help reduce handshake blur problems. Good ones can reduce it a right down. And, you need to work on it too. So how do you stop the problem?

There are three basic responses to handshake blur…

  • Increase shutter speed freeze the picture in time. If the shutter is open for a shorter time your hand has less opportunity to move. Then, blur is reduced.
  • Improve the way you hold your camera. The basic hand position is one hand under the lens and one hand holding the body ready to push the shutter button.
  • Improve your stance and breathing. Your body is acting as a tripod. If you are wobbly, so will your shot be! A practiced stance, will help your stability.

You can read my guide to a good stance and breathing techniques in “Simple tips for a good stance”.

There is another response that’s hardly ever mentioned… but it’s extraordinarily important. Most advanced photographers never mention this. They don’t think it is a problem. Working mostly with beginners I know it can be a huge issue. The problem is…
Muscle tone/strength
…even fit people suffer from weakness with a camera at first. I find that disabled people and older people are more sensitive too. Handshake blur can have a big impact on anyone. It is not something to worry about though.

Cameras are quite heavy – especially DSLRs. They are also unbalanced – long lenses make them more-so. People who are not regular camera holders do not develop the fine muscular control and strength needed to hold a camera and use it.

Sure, one or two shots are OK. If you are on a longish shoot, even tough men find they are unaccustomed to the position and control of a DSLR. Your shots slowly lose sharpness as you get tired. Through a whole day handshake blur can be a real issue.

If you are fit, and if you hold a camera a lot you will find your muscle tone and control improves. So will your control over handshake blur. You don’t have to do weights or go to the gym, although that will help. All you have to do is to carry your camera around and use it regularly. Not too much of a problem! The practice will put strength in your arms, shoulders, fingers and hands. Before long you will be steadier with a camera, reduce that handshake blur and improve the sharpness – a lot.

If you are disabled, have problems holding the camera, or suffer from weakness a chest harness can help. Check out DIY Camera Chest Harness for Weak Hands & Arms

Handshake blur… a video

In this video Mike Browne shows us the things I have mentioned above (except the muscle tone part) and how to put them into practical use.

Uploaded by Mike Browne  External link - opens new tab/page

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

8 responses to “Handshake blur – do your shots suffer?

  1. Thanks, Damon. I am learning so much from your tips.

  2. Great article, Damon. I am working on just this sort of thing when a tripod is too much to carry along.

  3. Jose A De Leon

    Nice tips. It’s always good to reinforce basic camera practices.

  4. skhumbuzo shezi

    Thank you for this lesson, this is a big problem to most of us

    • It is actually a bigger problem than most really appreciate. The majority of beginners don’t realise they have this problem but are perplexed. So it is good you make the point. Thanks.