Holding Your Point-and-Shoot for Less Blurry Images

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One of the reasons people get blurry images with their point-and-shoot camera is because of camera shake. This happens when the camera isn't held very steady, causing trailing in the image. Granted, there are other reasons—such as misfocusing—but browse through the images of many of your friends on Facebook and you'll see that lots of them are blurry due to camera shake. Here are a few pointers that we would like to share with you.

Bring it In Closer to Your Body

We don't recommend holding the camera like the person in the photo above. When you hold your camera out, away from your body, your arms shake. This shake is also affected by your breathing pattern. Instead, we recommend holding it as pictured below.

Bring your arms in close to you, and tuck your elbows into your body. When you do this, your arms shake less because they have a stable surface to rest on.

Hold it with Two Hands

When you hold a camera with one hand, you don't give it the stability it needs to capture images without camera shake.

Some camera manufacturers have implemented blur-reduction by having the camera snap multiple images and create a composite image of the ones it just shot. While this is a nifty feature, it's essentially a waste of battery life, due to the extra processing power and extra photos that need to be taken.

Think about it—three images to create one still image, as opposed to one still image that's got it right to begin with.

Another way to hold a camera is presented in the photo above. If your camera has an interchangeable lens, like the Micro Four Thirds or Sony NEX models, you can grip the lens. In the photo above, the right hand is gripping the body while the index finger and thumb of the left hand are around the lens. Furthermore, the camera body itself is resting on the fingers of the left hand.

Cupping the lens the way one would with a DSLR doesn't give you as much stability, and can feel a bit awkward.

As mentioned above, one of the best ways to grip the point-and-shoot camera is to put both hands around it and hold it firmly, while keeping your elbows tucked in.

Get a Firm Grip

Sometimes you have no choice, you absolutely must hold your camera with just one hand. In cases like these, a good idea is to wrap the camera's strap around your wrist. Ideally, you want to wrap the strap around so that there is a little bit of tension. Wrapping all of your fingers around the camera can also help to stabilize it a bit. I don't recommend holding the camera with only two or three fingers, the way many people do.

Watch Your Posture

Bending over to take a photo of an object—a flower, for example—can cause lots of unsteadiness in your body, causing camera shake. Just think about it, you're arching your back forward, and totally throwing off your center of balance. In addition, you're often reaching out to get the camera as close as possible.

Try remedying this problem by kneeling down instead, so that your body is more stable. Combine this with tucking your elbows in, holding the camera with two hands, and stabilizing yourself. You'll generally find that your images will come out much sharper.

You can learn more about taking sharper photos in this other article.

Turn on Image Stabilization

These days, many cameras have image stabilization built into them, but it's not always enabled. You'll need to go into the menus to do this. Consult the manual of your camera.

To really see the effects of image stabilization, you can read more about it in this article. There you'll also learn about another form of camera blur—misfocusing.

Bonus Round: Zoom Out

A good idea to keep in mind is to keep your camera's lens zoomed out, because when you shoot at a more telephoto focal length, your camera will need to work extra hard to keep your image stabilized, due to the extra magnification.

Think of it like this: Take a heavy weight and hold it in, close to your body. When you do this, you'll hold it with more stability, and the heavy weight will most likely not fall. Now take the same heavy weight and hold it with an outstretched arm. You'll see that your arm shakes quite a bit as your body tries to stabilize the weight. Shooting at a more telephoto (zoomed in) focal length is very much like that. To stabilize it, you can use a tripod—or turn on image stabilization, which can help to a certain point.

Combine this with the fact that most point-and-shoot cameras suffer from shutter lag, and you'll be well acquainted with some blurry images.

What other tips can you offer for holding your point-and-shoot? Please let us know in the comments below.

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If you are fortunate to have one of the vanishing breed of point and shoot cameras with an optical viewfinder, holding the camera to your eye really helps to stabilize the camera.

Cathy