Holding a DSLR properly possibly one of the biggest basic point to learn spending 10 minutes or so. No upgrade of lens will work if you fail to hold rightly. The previous article on how to hold a Digital Camera was not specific for DSLR – the external parts were not described so that you can focus and press the shutter without taking your eyes out of the viewfinder. Holding a DSLR properly and steadily will obviously increase the chance of getting a sharper image within the acceptable exposure time.
Holding a DSLR Properly : The Basics of the Basics
The method of holding a DSLR properly will need a modification with the medium format DSLR cameras as most manufacturers has a different design of the body, mostly they are for controlled environment. However, with a typical prosumer grade to pro grade DSLR from Canon or Nikon, the methods are basically the same. Obviously, if you mount a bigger sized lens; you need to balance it by again modification within the acceptable ways that photographers are following for past few decades for SLR cameras.
Let us first come with the basic structure of our usual DSLR camera’s design. Pro grade DSLR cameras usually have nearly 33 buttons on the body. Different manufacturers use a different arrangement of buttons and wheels. But as a whole, the ultimate target of the manufacturer is to give access to the fingers to the important buttons or dials while holding the camera and looking through the viewfinder. The finger grip like moldings are to enforce the usage. “Grip” is an extra accessory, we are not pointing towards it.
In the front side of the camera there is the lens mount. Notice that, the press to release button next to the lens mount can is not easily accessible while holding the DSLR properly, because it is not needed to unmount while in use !
Also usually on the front of the camera sits the so-called dof button which closes the aperture to the value currently set in the viewfinder, so it provides an accurate preview of the DSLR about how the configuration on the photo effect. This is located in a position where your left index finger can press it without looking. In many models from various manufacturers, there is so called auto-focus assist beam controller button. This can be controlled with right index finger.
Obviously, for manual focus, you will need to rotate the focus ring. If your left hand is not steady enough to give a slight counter traction, obviously you will actually get a blurred image.
Likewise on the back on the camera, you will notice that, only the buttons which needs adjusting while focusing or composing has the access and usually evokes a response viewable through the viewfinder. This automatically get adapted with usage like we never look at the accelerator pedal or the gear knob while driving a car. Just imagine that you need to look at the accelerator pedal to drive – the next work will be to look at the brake pedal and handbrake, because the car’s windscreen is the usual place to look through. This implies – your driving capability has not crossed the level of raving the engine at garage while it is on neutral gear / parking position and parking brake is applied tightly.
Holding a DSLR Properly and Steadily
Actually, a DSLR is not really a gun (not even a airgun) – it will definitely follow Newton’s Third Law after pressing the stutter release, but it is probably does not demand to hold it in that way. Every instrument is usually designed to allow a certain gesture to hold it, use it. The practice is to reinforce in our brain to make it a learned reflex (Conditioned reflexes exemplify associative learning…).
Now I am using the car before my legal age to drive, I am using the artery forceps for nearly a decade. I need not to actively think how to hold them, its the brain that accepts then as if parts of my body while in use, so that I can carry out the intended wok.
The exact thing applies for holding a DSLR. I guess over 95% of the problems with sharpness are caused by the errors from the newbie photographer’s end. Its neither lens nor the camera.
A DSLR can be hold in two positions – in horizontal and in vertical position. Vertical position is a bit difficult to master, we described only the things related to horizontal position within this guide. A DSLR is designed for a right handed user as most are right handed. Right hand has to grasp the left side of the DSLR’s body, usually there are rubber molded areas to fit the fingers. There is usually a thumb rest on the back of the body. The right index finger is for pressing the shutter. Our right hand’s index, thumbs can perform fine works, that is why this design is made.
Left hand is to hold the part of the lower part of the body of the DSLR or the Lens. Left hand is very active hand in manual focus. I usually give a tips in real – put your hand on a table facing the palmer surface up – as if you are about to hold something to eat – this is one of the neutral position (most steady neutral position is like holding a microphone in front of your mouth). Hold the DSLR only with your right hand first following the ribs and finger moldings on the body. Now imagine a line crossing across your thumb to ring finger on the left palm. Place your DSLR and lift using both hands’ power. Now pull the whole thing in front of your face – slowly do slight modification of left hand’s position, so that you can see through the viewfinder quite naturally. Notice the change of the whole scene in front of you while deep breath – breath in and out – deeply – can you see the change ?
Ahhh…your hands are not out of your body – you can change your body’s gesture, position to balance and give the camera most stable position. Get out of your table, but wear the neck strap first. Never use a DSLR during the initial period without the strap. Try to take photos around the table from various angles in various body postures. Do it everyday. You will be able to get the proper balance soon. Do not forget to take your own photo pointing at the mirror – it will help you and others to point out the problems.
With time, you will understand that, the DSLR is designed to get another support – its your forehead. Regarding the eye not in viewfinder – it takes time to adapt the thing – keeping both eyes opened and look through the viewfinder for a rough focus. It avoids the strain on the eyes. It is usually done for looking through the optical microscopes. When you will focus approximately, close the not-on-viewfinder eye and fine tune your photograph and press the shutter button. There is no need to look after and during pressing the shutter – your main work is to keep the camera most stable even few milliseconds to few seconds after pressing the shutter button.
Holding a DSLR Properly : Not suggested for the beginners to do
Never mimic a photojournalist – they can take photos at any angle, their need, their skill, their dedication are different than an average user.
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