Exercises/drills to improve hand steadiness?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by David R Munson, Sep 9, 2007.

  1. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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    I have noticed that over the course of the last twelve years, my ability to handhold my camera steadily at slower speeds has come and gone in cycles, without any apparent logic behind the changes. Sometimes I can handhold at 1/4s with a 50mm lens no prob, and other times I'll find bad camera movement at 1/30s when I was actually trying to hold the camera still. Hell, I used to shoot an RB67 handheld at 1/8-1/2s regularly with good results.

    So what I'm wondering is if anyone knows of any exercises or drills one can do to help maintain more consistently steady hands. Please don't suggest a tripod or monopod, as that's not what I'm asking. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Bill Mobbs

    Bill Mobbs Member

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    Quit drinking whiskey, quit drinking coffee, quit smoking, get enough sleep. Try holding your breath while pressing the shutter release, all come to mind.
    When all this fails, then get the tripod. Then you can take up the bad habits again.

    Best regards,

    Bill
     
  3. Terence

    Terence Member

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    Talk about a life not worth living . . . .
     
  4. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    When I'm in good physical condition I am able to still my chest and body enough to hold the camera much longer and with less shake as I use the front and side of my chest as a brace. My hands seem to have less importance. When I'm in crap contdition (like now) I notice my heart beating under my arm and it is somewhat more dificult to hold perfectly still.

    I can generally handhold a RF down into the 1/4 range and if I have a wall nearby 1/2 is also doable.

    Its nice to see you posting again.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2007
  5. dslater

    dslater Member

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    What I find is most effective is to slowly exhale and press the shutter at the point where my lungs empty and I'm about to inhale. Actually trying to hold my breath tends to make my chest/stomach muscles tense up and cause vibrations.
     
  6. dslater

    dslater Member

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    I also keep both arms in to my chest and slouch slightly - the goal here is to try and support yourself on locked joints as much as possible instead of relying on your muscles to hold you up.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Both this and your other post seconded wholeheartedly.
     
  8. dslater

    dslater Member

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    And if I can find something to lean on or against all the better.
    Even so, my steadiness definitely varies from day to day - being tired makes things much worse.
    Worrying too much about how steady I am seems to have a very negative effect. Waiting too long to take the pic makes things worse as well.
     
  9. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    it's sort of a jedi zen mind-trick thing for me. I imagine the camera is absoulutely fixed in space - as though attached to a massive block of concrete - completely immovable - as though there's nothing I can even do to shake or vibrate the camera - and so I just give up even trying. I've had surprisingly great results this way. I don't know why.. it just works. I guess we all find our own tricks...!
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Leaning helps a lot. Two other things that help-

    1) set the timer on your camera and then concentrate only on the camera itself rather than the shutter.

    2) if you don't use the timer then depress the shutter button not with your fingertip but rather the more fleshy part of your finger, that reduces the finger impulse.
     
  11. dslater

    dslater Member

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    There's a device here: http://www.cameraquest.com/voigtMSR.htm the soft-minirelease that they claim helps a lot with this issue.
     
  12. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    the stronger your hands and arms are, the less quickly they will become fatigued; fatigue can lead to trembling. So strengthen your arms and hands.

    And use a tripod! :smile:
     
  13. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    You might look into the techniques that competition target shooters (espcially pistol shooters) use, as they have a similar need to hold stready.
     
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  15. mark

    mark Member

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    Run holding a full to the brim cup of McDonalds Coffee. Don't drink it, just run with it. I guess water would work too, but there is no consequence for spilling water on your hand.

    Actually holding still is not so much a matter of strength as it is a matter of relaxation. A school principal I used to work for was also a top notch long range marksman, in whatever category uses a rifle without a scope and from a standing position. He professed relaxation, breathing, and a calm focus. If I get into a rifle-holding stance, and relax my shoulders a lot, I can handhold up to 80mm on a 35mm down to 1/25 pretty darn consistently. My MF camera is awkward to handhold and I am not as consistent but I think the weight helps sometimes. But, I would rather use a tripod.
     
  16. 25asa

    25asa Member

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    This is incorrect unless you do not like whiskey.
    Always carry at least one half pint of your favorite 80 Proof and consume as needed until you achieve success at those attempts at 1/4 and 1/2 second rigid catatonic states.
     
  17. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    "It's hard to hold steady when half your friends are dead already."

    Sorrry, couldn't resist the quote from one of my favorite bands...

    The breathing out thing works for me. Also, if you have a fancy SLR w/ motor drive, try taking 2 photos with continuous drive. The second photo might not have as much shake since you're not punching the release.
     
  18. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Standard technique since the dawn of (photographic) time has been:
    Breathe in slowly, breathe out slowly, hold your breath for one second (no more, you'll become self-conscious and make things worse) and squeeze the release gently but firmly in a continuous motion (obviously jabbing the release will give camera shake, no matter what else you do).

    Regards,

    David
     
  19. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Cut down on American coffee (ground variety). This weekend past, I went to a village scarecrow competition close to where I live. People had built amazing scarecrows outside their houses.Great photo opportunities. The whole village was a kind of "open house" and at one house a genuine Texas lady was serving genuine Texas coffee. Very nice but very strong. I was super alert after one cup, would have defended the Alamo after two and chased the Mexicans back across the Rio Grande after three and been banned from competing in the Tour de France for life!

    If I drank as much coffee as I do tea and I don't do that excessively, I'd be seriously "twitchy".

    pentaxuser
     
  20. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I still use the method I learned to fire a rifle as a young marine recruit more than forty years ago, to control your breathing, and take first pressure on the trigger ( taking up the slack) or shutter release then gently squeeze.
     
  21. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I use a cable release whenever I think finger impulse might be an issue. My nuttiest experiment was to push on a long bulb release with my foot. It works well, but it's not cool looking. Better to use a timer :wink:

    Regarding breathing, I do personally find that my hand action is best while I slowly exhale. Holding my breath doesn't help one iota, for me personally!

    Then there is the string tripod...
     
  22. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Yes - though I don't think of it as holding my breath, but just a hesitation at the bottom of my exhalation.
    Dan
     
  23. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I was just shooting a variety of guns a week ago and there are some differences. I found that with a pistol i did not need to hold it perfectly still.. I only had to pull the trigger at the right time. With a camera and a slow shutter speed you have to keep it steady for the duration of the exposure.

    General tips are to keep one elbow against your body and support the weight of the camera/pistol with that hand. pay attention to your breathing. Relax and do not hold it too tightly.

    General upper body strength helps. A monopod really makes things easy though.
     
  24. lee

    lee Member

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    TRIPOD and CABLE RELEASE

    lee\c
     
  25. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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    *sigh*
     
  26. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Coffee may annoy some people, the first 1/2 can of beer may help some people, lamppost or pillar or wall is a real friend.

    Noel