Imagine if every time you picked up a camera, it started shaking. It didn’t shake at any other time, just when you touch it – because your hands shake, severely.
That’s pretty much Paul’s circumstances.
Paul emailed me recently asking for suggestions on what kind of camera he could get to help with his condition. I asked Paul just how bad were the tremors in his hands. His reply:
How bad are the tremors? Well, if I am sitting in my living room chair and I reach for a glass of water on a table right next to the chair, if I don’t use both hands, the water will spill. That’s about the only way I can tell you.
I think that modern technology can only compensate for so much “camera shake.” If the tremors are very pronounced, like Paul’s tremors, that means you either need to use a tripod or to get the shutter speed as high as possible so that the picture taking process is over before the image sensor records much of the shaking motion.
With a tripod, you could even use a remote, so that you are completely hands-off with your camera. The downside of a tripod is that it’s bulky. You can’t always carry a tripod around with you. Granted, there are times when you will probably be carrying around a tripod and other photographers would not; however, that’s the nature of making it work for you. You still need a solution to use a camera at other times when you cannot practically use a tripod.
Shutter Speed and High ISO
I think this may be one situation where finding a camera that handles high ISO settings with good noise reduction. This setup will allow you to boost ISO beyond what others may typically set it for a given scene. As a result, you will be able to record the image with a higher shutter speed. The Canon Rebel T1i and Nikon D5000 are solid performers as entry-level DSLRs with higher ISO settings available.
Another piece of technology to consider is image stabilization. All the manufacturers have some flavor of image stabilization. Canon and Nikon use image stabilized lenses. Sony and Pentax use image stabilization in the body of the camera. Again though, this will only compensate for so much “camera shake.” However, this is a component that you should consider along with all the other potential solutions.
Another possibility is to shoot with a monopod. While it will not get your hands completely off of the camera, a monopod is not nearly as cumbersome as a tripod and it provides significantly more stability than hand-holding your camera. I am a big fan of the Manfrotto 679B monopod.
Using the Tremors
The final option that I have to offer is to choose moments to embrace the tremors. There are possibilities to make art through the use of camera shake. Not every photographic opportunity will be appropriate embracing camera shake; however, experimenting with this option may provide previously unseen opportunities.
These are my suggestions for coping with a tough problem. I would appreciate, as would Paul, any other proposed solutions or aids that you may have for photographers with tremors in their hands. If you are a photographer in a similar situation as Paul, please chime in on how you deal with shaking hands.