The longer the lens, the more difficult to hold it still

Skill is not something that comes
naturally to a new photographer

The longer the lens, the more difficult to hold it still, and the harder it becomes to keep that dreaded camera shake away. The basic rule of thumb to avoid camera shake is by equaling the speed of the shutter to the lens focal length. So if you have a 300mm lens, you need a shutter of about 1/300th of a second or quicker. This is a good basic rule for beginners because, while using a camera, skill is not something that comes naturally to a new photographer, it is something that must be learned. ✓

Wolf at the Fresno Zoo
This wolf image was shot at the Fresno zoo at 135mm focal length at f/6 aperture and 1/125 shutter speed

Wolf at the Fresno Zoo at f/6.3
While this shot was at 200mm focal length at 1/25 shutter speed at f/6.3 aperture  

The wolf had workmen repairing a water line in it's enclosure and was quite nervous and moving around its enclosure at a fast pace. I was lucky to even get these shots as the wolves are nocturnal and usually in their cave during the daytime. As you can see from the second image he was moving quite fast, and I had focused on the eyes, but look at the fuzzy ground and the fuzzy back part of his body.

After many years of experience, I am able photograph with a 200mm telephoto lens as slow as around 1/60th of a second with respectable triumph, but I realize that even though I have all those years of practice there will still be a number of images that will turn out shaky. 1/60th of a second becomes almost the slowest a photographer is able to go even using a wide angle lens. First: even though you may be able to gain the skill to handle the camera without shake, newbie's donít grasp how much they are moving the camera. And secondly: even after acquiring the skills to minimize any camera shake, motion blur still comes into play where movement of your subject will cause fuzziness of the picture.

Many of todayís newer lenses have some type of vibration reduction (Canon employs the "IS" label for "Image Stabilization." Nikon has labeled theirs "VR" meaning Vibration Reduction, ) while theyíre typically good for a two or three of shutter speeds less than you can typically shoot your camera at. This is not a panacea, but it helps. (What's Interesting is that the improvement percentage is way less for pros that have practiced holding their cameras still).

The absolute best way to eliminate camera shake is by employing a tripod. Although in lieu of one, there's a few tidbits for holding your camera still: Be tolerant and donít be in a rush. Carefully and slowly push the shutter button. Counter the downward motion of pressing the shutter button with a light upward hand pressure while grasping the bottom of your camera.

Employ a monopod (a one-legged tripod) when shooting with longer lenses. Not only will the shake be reduced but also your arms will not become as tired.

Lean up against something solid like a post or a wall. This will act somewhat like a tripod and you become one of the legs. Holding or slowing down your breathing. At slower shutter speed rates the normal act of respiration may cause unnecessary movement (be sure you do not pass out by waiting too long to shoot the photo;). It may sound strange or not possible but you can photograph between your heartbeats. Patience is the solution, along with being in tuned into your body. New Article Aug 5, 2011

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