I don't know how to keep my camera still

(Ollie R) #1

How do I keep my camera steady when I’m filming? I have no money, but I like the look of shots that aren’t on tripods but the footage always ends up hella shaky even when I think I’m holding it really still. I feel still but then it looks shaky in editing.

(sam lockie-waring) #2

what kind of camera? camcorder? dslr?

(Ollie R) #3

(naje.tv) #4

Hey Ollie,

If you want your image to look steady but don’t want to be on sticks (tripod), there are a few things to consider for your DSLR situation:

  1. Lens Selection

When working with handheld the longer the lens the shakier the footage. If you are okay working with wider lenses, like say a 35mm or wider, your shots should look less shaky than if you are shooting on a 100mm for example. A great example of this kind of work is the masterful cinematography of Slawomir Idziak, in the movies Three Colors: Bleu and The Double Life of Veronique. I refer to his work as the human tripod. It’s steady, but fluid and always breathes a little.

  1. Support

How you hold/support your camera (and body) influences how steady the images will be. If you are leaning into a wall with your shoulder and elbow for example, your shot should be more steady than if you’re just standing straight up unsupported. In the absence of something external, you can try to use your own body for support like attaching a gorilla pod to your camera and bending the legs into your chest. Even if you’re not using the gorilla pod to support off of your chest, attaching one might be nice for the added weight. I find that a slightly heavier camera moves more smoothly than a lighter more easily jarred camera.

  1. Movement

How smooth/fluid your camerawork will look also depends on when and how you decide to move. Slower controlled movements appear smoother than quicker impulsive ones. Also, if you are moving your camera (ie panning, etc…) try to match that movement to your breathing so that it feels more fluid. When those two things are out of sync it can manifest as jumpiness in a shot. If you’re doing any kind of tracking, try to move as if you’re doing slow lunges or squats, instead of walking normally. Just walking is way more jittery than the slow squat like movements.

  1. Stabilizers

If all else fails, I would look into purchasing/renting a gimbal. These have a range of sizes and price points, but can give you steadycam smooth imagery at a fraction of the cost. I think a Moza Air or a Zhiyun Crane 3 might work for your setup, but you’ll have to investigate the weight and size of your camera body and lenses to see. I do like these kinds of stabilizers for specialty shots, but I probably wouldn’t shoot a whole project with it. Something too artificial about the uber smoothness, and I prefer the more organic feel of handheld, generally speaking. But if you don’t want to see movement at all, and you also don’t want to be static on a tripod, this might be the thing.

Hope there is something useful in there.

Good luck!


(Ollie R) #5


(Bri Castellini) #6

Hey Naje… would you be interested in writing an article for our blog about this, and/or literally any other topic because your answers are always so detailed and helpful? Because I concur with Ollie… DUDE.

(naje.tv) #7

Oh, I forgot to mention in the supports section, the option of camera rigs. I used to like to use the Redrock Micro Eyespy kit, but they run about $1500. You can get cheaper ones, but you kinda get what you pay for. Anyway, at that price point I’d rather get a gimbal than a camera rig, but they are great if you’re going to be doing hours of handheld work and want a more organic feel than the buttery smooth images a gimbal will give you.

(naje.tv) #8

Hey Bri,

Sure, I don’t know a ton, but I can share what I do know if it’s helpful. Let me know.

(Herman Wang) #9

Another alternative to a gimbal is an unpowered handheld camera stabilizer. They’re much cheaper, although they take a little bit of time to balance properly.

I have one of these and it’s come in very handy for moving shots.

(sherryvan) #10

The shaking picture is confusing. You can use the camera stablizer, which allows you to keep the camera steady while shooting. If you are looking for a budget-friendly camera gimbal, I recommend you Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer. It can save you a lot of time in later editing.