How to keep camera steady when holding it?

HeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

I'm going to be filming a short film with my iPhone 8 in a few weeks, and I've been starting to get into all the testing shots to make sure I know what I'm doing. But, I've hit the same problem in each shot:

When I try to move the camera (as in physical translation across the ground) I've found one of two problems. One: it's too shaky because I'm holding the phone (I hold it by using a small tripod—the Joby JB01237-CAM GorillaPod Original Tripod (Black/Lime Green)$ Or two: I have the phone in a larger tripod (a Shop Slik Pro 340dx - Amazon | Free Shipping w/ Prime‎‎) to keep it a bit more balanced (by spreading its legs out) but it looks bad because as I walk the camera moves up and down. What's the best way to keep the camera steady at a cheap cost (can't buy one of those special stabilizing tripods) that won't give it too much wobble or up and down motion from my walking? I want to get it as close to looking like it was made with a crane or something as possible, and I know it'll never be AS good but the closer I get the better. A little camera shake can go a long way to make the film have a more rugged feel (which would be good) but too much just feels amateur (which I am...)


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,990 Ambassador

    There a DIY stabilizers you can make for $20.

    Note that stabilizers largely work by adding weight. It's actually steadier to control something five pounds, not five ounces. 

    Even with a stabilizer there's technique. Look up the "Ninja walk" or "Camera Walk" on YouTube. Basically it's keeping your knees bent and rolling your foot from heel to toe. The up/down sway is from your walking  You're moving up and down. Even with a full gimbal you'd get that up/down motion  unless you control your walk. 

    Bottom line is you're going to want to look up proper camera holding techniques and practice them. 

    Another thing to consider is handheld panning, which is NOT moving from the shoulders, but rotating at the waist. 

    There's also some tricks with arms/hand. So with the phone and mini tripod you don't want your hand tight. In theory the grip is being pulled down by gravity helping pull your camera straight. It's almost like making an "OK" sign, looping index finger and thumb to hold the stick, keeping your other fingers/palm away so the stick can swing and pull the phone straight.

    With your silk tripod you'd close and collapse the legs and hold it just below the head/clasp mount. Again the weight of the tripod will pull down as the sticks try to dangle vertically, helping pull the camera straight. 

    But this is the kind of thing that will make more sense in video than text.

    All that said, I worked as a broadcast camera op for a decade. I've tried using tripods and monopods as ersatz stabilizers and it makes a huge difference, but, ****, gimbals make a difference. There are fantastic phone gimbals for under a hundred bucks. Add one to a tripod/monopod and you can extend the stick for awesome jib shots. I use a Zhiyun Smooth Q, which can be found for about $80 new, or about $50 for a refurb. 

  • triforcefx
    triforcefx United StatesModerator, Website User Posts: 1,157 Moderator

    One of the best cheap pieces of stabilization tech that no one talks about, but I love, is the pistol grip mini tripod.

    The idea is that the grip of a pistol is designed for maximum handheld stability and accuracy. 

    Alternatively, you can grab the big tripod by the center and hold it steady.

    With any low budget stabilization techniques (and all stabilization techniques), awareness is key. If you notice that the frame is jumping up and down while you walk, be aware of that while you shoot and adjust for it. There are ways to have your body and arms stay completely still while walking (such as a roll step). If possible while you're doing, say, a tracking shot, hop in the passenger seat of a car or back of a truck and have tell the driver what you need while you get the shot.

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