Camera Shake

To: brian fleming <>, Birding-aus <>
Subject: Camera Shake
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2006 20:11:23 +1100
Hello all,

I think I must have missed the original email that Brian has responded to but I thought I might stick my head into this one.

Image stabilisation (IS) (VR- vibration reduction for Nikonians)- it works and has to be the greatest boon to wildlife photographers in 20 years. Highly recommended if you can afford it- with the compact digitals or with digital SLR's. You can hand hold a 500mm standard lens on an SLR with it. You wouldn't want to be doing it for longer than about a minute but you can do it! The problem would come with the photographers physical ability to hand-hold a large lens. Arnold Schwarzenegger would make an awesome wildlife photographer if he ever develops the interest. However, today's 300 or 400mm lenses with IS are very hand-holdable for the average person.

However, if you want to hand-hold and get sharper shots your ratio of sharp shots will increase if you use some sort of support like a shoulder stock which I've used a lot especially in rainforest when a tripod becomes a bit inconvenient. Another cheaper alternative which I 'm intending to have a go at is a strap that you connect to the lens (best in a quick release plate) and then loop the other end around your foot. By pulling up with the lens it has the effect of holding the lens surprisingly still. Just don't walk off until you've removed your foot from the loop in the strap or you might have a nasty accident! I don't think the strap method would work on a boat though. On land, I imagine this method could work with compact digitals as well.

As Brian said- shutter speed is the key. The faster your shutter speed the sharper your shots. IS doesn't help with movement of your subject, only of your camera, so there is no escaping the importance of shutter speed.



Michael Todd Wildlifing Images & Sounds of Nature
Latest Additions: Barking Owl, Splendid Fairy-wren, Mulga Parrot
Toronto, NSW, Australia O41O 123715

brian fleming wrote:
The subject is sufficiently important for a general reply.

500 mm is long for hand held work, but both Anthea and I have used 500 mm mirror lenses with success - no question of stopping down as they are fixed aperture. They are very light, so there is no problem with what I will call "fatigue shake" - a conventional 500 is going to be 500mm long and correspondingly heavy, and awkward, although the mass itself will have a damping action. A zoom lens will be much shorter but will still be fairly heavy. Using the highest available shutter speed with lens wide open will reduce the distance the camera moves while the shutter is open; this of course will mean less depth of focus. (Life wasn't meant.....).

Hold the camera firmly but not tightly with both hands, and elbows braced against your body. Breath out as you prepare to "click" , and in again afterwards. After several years, this becomes automatic! Even on a boat off Stewart Island NZ, where the albatrosses were often too close!

Brian Fleming

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