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The Secrets of Getting Steady Handheld Video Shots Without a Tripod

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/20/2010

It’s not in every shooting situation that you get to use a tripod to get steady shots. If you have to do most of your video recording handheld, here are some secrets to get steady shots that will make your audience think you’ve used a tripod.

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    Nothing is more irritating than shaky or wobbly shots of interesting subjects. You may not realize that you’re recording a shaky shot when you’re shooting, but more often than not, the problem is caused by poor handling of your camcorder.

    True, shooting experience plays a part in obtaining steady shots, but if you’re a rookie videographer or have very little experience handling a video camera, you can still get steady shots if you follow the techniques outlined below.

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    Standing Posture

    Most shaky shots result from poor standing posture. Don’t stand as if you’re on a tightrope. Don’t stand with your feet close together. If you do, your body will be stiff and your movements uneven and more often than not, you’ll end up with shaky shots.

    Stand with your feet apart, 45 degrees outward. If you need steadier support, stand with one foot in front of the other.

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    Proper Elbow Rest

    Chances are you’ll not get steady shots if your elbows are floating in the air. To get better support for your elbows, rest them again against your chest or ribs.

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    Use Both Hands

    It may look a little awkward if you hold your camera with both hands, but if steady shots are what you want, you should not hesitate to do it. Holding your camera with one hand may look cool, but if your camcorder is light, as most camcorders are these days, you’ll need a firmer grip to come away with steadier shots.

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    Lean or Kneel

    Look around you. Is there a tree or a wall around you? Lean on it with your legs spread out. You’ll become a rock steady `tripod’ and rest assured of steady shots.

    Do you want to get steady shots at waist level? Kneel on one knee and use your lap as support for your elbow to stabilize your camcorder. Your shots will be steadier.

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    On the Floor

    Are you trying to capture your baby crawling? Lie down on the floor, stomach down, and rest both your elbows on the floor for support, The same applies if you’re trying to get a shot of your cat or dog walking towards you.

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    Avoid Zooming Unnecessarily

    The zoom is a convenient tool often misused, especially by beginners, who may feel uncomfortable about getting near a subject. Zooming in and out causes unsteady shots apart from draining battery power. Get closer to the subject instead.

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    Flat Surface

    Look for a flat surface like a table and place your camcorder on it. If you require more height, stack books or boxes. This is especially useful if you need a static shot of a subject.

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    Use Image Stabilization Feature

    If your camera comes with image stabilization feature, use it. Go for optical image stabilization instead of digital to get stable shots.

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    Putting to practice the above tricks in situations where you can’t have a good tripod will result in steadier shots, which will only get better over time.