Why Would You Possibly Need Lessons?
Digital SLR Photography Tips – Holding the Camera
When holding an SLR camera for the first time…you would think it is as straight forward as any camera right? Well, if you are used to simple point and shoot cameras where your left hand is pretty much redundant, you would be wrong to think this.
Because an SLR or Digital SLR is so much bigger and bulkier, especially if you have the Canon 1 series or an added optional battery pack, there is a bit more to think about.
When set to manual, and using slower shutter speeds, the camera (and you) are more likely to sway a little due to the weight, causing normally irreparable camera shake. With an SLR combined with an added battery pack and a heavy lens such as the Canon EF 70-200L lens, your arms become pretty weak after a few hours shooting.
So learning how to hold the camera more energy efficiently will help in the long run, of course a tripod is ultimately the best, but I assume, like me, you wont want to carry one everywhere with you?
As you can see from this image, most digital SLR’s are now designed perfectly to fit in the right hand (hopefully you are right handed). The thumb is positioned so as to be able to easily reach the rear dial, the exposure lock button at the top and the focus point selector next to it.
Of course each cameras layout is different but all are normally designed fit in your hands both ergonomically and practically comfortable. In this next image, you can see the top of the camera.
With the addition of a large grip down the right hand side of most cameras (you may or may not remember that early SLR’s in the 80’s had no such grip) your index finger is left free to operate more buttons and dials. There is obviously the shutter button and normally a dial next to it for speedy aperture or shutter speed changes.
Also on the top are other buttons that will allow you to change settings such as the white balance or the focus and metering settings. So with the right hand doing all this work, what is left for your left hand?
Well, it plays a fairly important part as in apart from operating the mode dial on the top left of the camera, it is used to “cup” and steady main bulk of the camera. When holding an SLR, the base should fit into the palm of your hand, with the bottom of the lens resting on your left thumb and forefinger allowing you to use the zoom or focussing rings.
If you don’t hold it this way, and allow your left hand to “float” freely as you focus and zoom, the movement is more likely to move the camera, again causing camera shake.
This has proved over the years to be the most efficient way of holding an SLR but with practice you can play a little. I have been known, when photographing children, to break these rules often. Sometimes it is not practical to hold the camera in this way, for example to get this photo of Jess just as she started crawling;
I wasn’t in a position to hurl myself on the floor so, with the camera set to auto focus and 5 frames per second, I bent over holding the camera vertically just above the floor, and kept firing away whilst walking backwards as she crawled along. My left hand was free to click my fingers and get her attention into the camera.
So you can break these rules and have a play, but generally these are the best suggestions when holding an SLR. One final thought is that when standing up and shooting, using the above tips, try resting your elbows into your body, this will give you extra support and pull the camera gently into your face to steady it more.
So to summarize holding an SLR;
- Hold the camera in both hands as stated
- Lean against something, a wall or fence, for stability
- Pull your elbows into your body
- Pull the camera gently to your face
- “Squeeze” the shutter, don’t stab at it