Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video What causes shake?, part of DSLR Video Tips: Gadgets & Gear.
Robbie Carman: The question I'm sure we both get a lot is why is my footage shaky? And we have a lot of stuff here in front of us that will help us solve this problem, but let's first get to the root of the problem. What causes shaky footage? Richard Harrington: Well, shake is really a human condition. It's caused by the camera operator. Now the form factor of the camera makes this worse. And when I'm shooting stills, I've got this right up against my eye; it's tight, my arms are in tight. You know I've really got this braced. Robbie Carman: Yup. Richard Harrington: You've got that nice grip, arm underneath; you are bracing the camera, that's cool.
Well, now you turn on the Live View monitor and you can't look there, you've got to look there. So you're starting to hold the camera in front of you. Okay, so now, instead of my arms being in, they're extended. Robbie Carman: And depending on the camera it may weigh you know, a little bit, you know, it might get your arms fatigued and next thing you know they start shaking. Richard Harrington: Well, you can do this for a few minutes, but you're holding up there forever, eventually your back starts to hurt. Sure, you could switch hips, or try to cradle it or people will do this, but if you don't modify it, just the ergonomics of the camera make it difficult.
Add-on to that, you've got things like, I don't know, busy work schedules, lack of sleep, people drink caffeine, they smoke. Robbie Carman: Yeah, right. Richard Harrington: You know, they're stressed. I mean if--without even a camera in your hand, if you could just take your hand and hold it in front of you, mine is shaking-- Robbie Carman: Just a little bit, yeah. Richard Harrington: Yeah, just slightly. It's really difficult, and so just as a human factor, the more you touch the camera, the more it shakes. Robbie Carman: Well, I think the other thing too is that sometimes shake happens when you're not even holding the camera. For example, you might be doing a narrative piece and you might be in a car, right, and driving down the street and just the vibration of that car is going to give you a little shake. Things of that nature also introduce shake.
Richard Harrington: Well, to get around that some lenses will have vibration reduction or IS for Image Stabilization and you will typically see two modes. There is one mode that's sort of standard. And most lenses that have this will have this feature, and this just works to compensate for you shaking. Now many lenses will also have an active mode, meaning that the vehicle or the platform you're on is vibrating, and so then it's constantly on. Although this can introduce some audible noise that might get picked up by your reference mic. Robbie Carman: Right. Richard Harrington: Now the easiest thing to do here is stop touching the camera.
Put it on a tripod. If a tripod is too bulky to carry around, using a monopod like this will also come in handy. But we're going to cover some of these other gadgets in a second, but the real thing here is shake is caused by touching the camera. And the more you're zoomed in, the worse it looks. Robbie Carman: Oh, yeah. I mean that's--I have had that problem too, where I've tried to handhold like a big 300 mm lens or something like that. You know, and maybe on a little light-- you know, 50 mm lens, I think it's doable. But you start getting that nice long telephoto lens.
Sorry, there are not a whole lot of people in world, even the best DPs who are going to be rock solid holding like that. Richard Harrington: Yeah, you've got to realize that people using those long lenses, when you're shooting stills, you don't see this, because you're freezing the action, but if you want to see this, go ahead and shoot burst mode in stills and you will see just how much shake you still have when shooting still images, because there will be little variations between the frame. You need to get it locked down. You need to get your hands off a bit if at all possible, and if not, then you need to adapt the body of the camera to go ahead and compensate for this, and that's what we're going to talk about next.
Different devices that will help us redistribute the weight and balance of the camera.
- Reducing lens flare with matte boxes
- Using loupes and electronic viewfinders to check focus and exposure
- Capturing metadata with a slate
- Fixing shaky footage
- Controlling a camera remotely
- Sliding the camera
- Elevating your camera