Pull Out All the Stops to Reduce Camera Shake

October 20, 2014  •  2 Comments

Whenever possible, I use a tripod to secure my camera and lens. A major benefit of using a tripod is to minimize camera shake. Minimizing camera shake opens up the possibility of slower shutter speeds--particularly when the subject is not moving quickly.

For this image of a green-winged macaw, I secured my Nikon D800 camera and my large Nikon 500VR lens to a Wimberley gimbal head and a Gitzo tripod.  This, along with some other techniques which I will describe in a moment, allowed me to acquire a sharp image at the relatively slow shutter speed of 1/30th of a second!

Green-winged macaw

In addition to using a tripod and stable gimbal head, I used the following additional techniques to help keep this image sharp:

  1. Activated the vibration reduction (VR) feature of the lens
  2. Used fill flash to add a short burst of light (which helps freeze the subject)
  3. Used a very wide aperture which allows for the fastest possible shutter speed
  4. Boosted the ISO to 640 in order to achieve the 1/30th shutter speed
  5. Captured several images quickly--since I realized that only one in three might be tack sharp
  6. Waited until the subject was reasonably still before pressing the shutter

Let's say that I didn't concern myself with shutter speed and instead just set the shutter speed at 1/500th (since the rule of thumb is to set the shutter speed for 1 over the focal length of the lens to achieve sharp images).  At 1/500th, I would have reduced my exposure by about four stops relative to 1/30th. To get those four stops back, I would need to boost my ISO from 640 to 10,000 to maintain the same exposure!  Even with the D800, ISO 10,000 is not a pretty sight!


Glenn Nagel Photography
I typically turn off VR when using a tripod. However, some of the newer VRII lenses allow for VR to be activated with the camera secured to a tripod. Generally, if the camera is locked down on a tripod, I'm not as concerned with camera shake. Glenn
A Westreich(non-registered)
I thought the recommendation was to turn off VR when using on a tripod? Have you found in your experience that the VR works efficiently when on the Wimberley? Just curious.
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