Hand holding a camera inevitably introduces a certain amount of shake whether you are shooting long exposure stills in low light or video with an extreme zoom lens. This is generally not a problem when shooting at fast shutter speeds in adequate light or video with less zoom. But camera shake becomes a problem for low light shots or video with extreme zoom lenses. Hand held stability varies from one person to another and there are no hard and fast rules. Common advice is to stabilize the camera depending on lens focal length (eg. 1/50th for 50mm). But some people claim success hand holding as slow as 1/4 second with a wide angle.
For low light stills, the camera will usually display a warning that camera stabilization is needed. Video shot with a tiny palmcorder at 50 or 60 times zoom is virtually impossible to keep steady without some kind of stabilizing support.
There is an easy way to tell how steady you are with any size camera that can be revealing. The trick is to look at the monitor with the camera turned off and the plastic screen reflecting a light source behind you. It can be a lamp, light bulb or candle—anything you can see clearly reflected in the monitor. Hold the camera as steady as you can. You will see that it is impossible to keep the reflected image in the monitor absolutely still. Even your heartbeat may cause some shake. The camera movement is very small and magnified because of the reflected image. But you will see that there is obvious movement even though your hands appear to be steady. The smaller the camera, the harder it is to hold still. A DSLR will be steadier than a smartphone.
If this little experiment reveals that you are not as steady as you’d like, not to worry. Help is available. HandlePod provides additional leverage and a solid grip that greatly improves hand held stability. The reflected light experiment will demonstrate this. The reflected image will be much more stable though not absolutely still. Adding a string to the HandlePod will provide more hand held stabilization. But to keep the camera absolutely steady, simply press the HandlePod against any available support. If you look at a light source reflected in the monitor you will see that there is no camera movement. The image is totally steady even though you are touching the HandlePod. Just keep your hand still, press gently against the support and you have total camera stability—just like on a tripod.