Laura Macky Photography

Journey of a body on this earth

Hand Holding Isn’t Impossible


You might’ve noticed in previous posts that I talk about not using a tripod a lot.  Due to issues with my neck and hands, it’s really difficult for me to carry a tripod.  Honestly, the ONLY time I use it is if someone else carries it for me or if I’m taking a picture not too far from my car.

This image was taken with my new Sony A7 using a 28-70mm lens with no tripod.  Indeed you can feather water hand-held if your lens or camera has image stabilization which the the Sony A7 lens I was using does have.   (The newer Sony mirrorless cameras have image stabilization in the camera itself and does not need a lens with image stabilization.  Oh the joys of technology!)

For this image, I used a shutter speed of 1/8s at 51mm and had ISO set to 100.  I spot metered the water so it would be a perfect exposure and recovered some shadows in the area around the water in Lightroom.

Without image stabilization, there is something called the Reciprocal Rule in Photography (discussed below).  It’s a way to make sure you have sharp images and not using a shutter speed too slow for the focal length you are using.

For those interested in learning what the Reciprocal rule in Photography you can click here where Nasim Mansurov gives a fabulous explanation of it.  But if you don’t want to click on the link…….it means (talking full frame camera here) that if you are using an 80-400mm lens for example and shooting at 80mm, your shutter speed should be set to at least 1/80th of a second and no slower, whereas if you zoom in to say 400mm, your shutter speed should be at least 1/400th of a second.  For crop sensor cameras, if you use the same 80-400mm lens on a Nikon DX camera, for example, with a 1.5x crop factor and you are shooting at 400mm, your minimum shutter speed should be at least 1/600th of a second (400 x 1.5 = 600).

You can shoot slower in both instances discussed above if your lens (or camera) has image stabilization and then the rule goes out the window.  My Nikon D750 uses lenses with image stabilization (called vibration reduction in Nikon land) so I can shoot even slower than the Reciprocal Rule mentioned above.  For instance in the previous example with the Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G VR,  you could theoretically reduce the recommended shutter speed by reciprocal rule by up to 16 times!  So when shooting at 400mm, if your hand-holding technique was perfect and you turned image stabilization on, you could go from 1/400th of a second (reciprocal rule based on a full-frame camera) to 1/25th of second and still be able to capture a sharp image of your subject (provided that your subject does not move at such long shutter speeds and cause motion blur).

Thanks again to Nasim Mansurov for this information and I hope this helps you when you want to ditch your tripod!  🙂






Author: lauramacky

Journey of a Body on this Earth

78 thoughts on “Hand Holding Isn’t Impossible

  1. I find tripods too limiting. Love the photo!

    • Thank you Cindy. I laughed when I took my camera club to the paramount, some of the guys laughed at me when I didn’t have my tripod yet mine were the sharpest images of the bunch! 😀

  2. Can you use a Monopod instead? Great photo with handheld! ❤️

    • Well I’d rather not carry one of those either. It’s so hard for me to grip it. I’m glad you like the falls John! Hope you’re doing ok. 🙂

      • Yeah I’m feeling OK today, thank you! There are tiny glimpses of light occasionally visible at extreme distance. I understand what you mean by tough gripping. I would love to grip that sweet camera you used. Spoiled brat! 😍

    • When I was looking for a new tripod- mine was stolen out of my car- the camera store employee said a monopod would not help for long exposures. What it is good for is a mystery to me.

  3. Gorgeous! Fabulous photography!

  4. beautifully, skillfully
    doing the best
    with what you have 🙂

  5. Spectacular image Laura!
    I used to carry my tripod everywhere, even backcountry Yosemite. With my Tamron 70-200 f/2.8with IS (tamron speak for image stabilization) I find I can now get about 5 extra stops in stabilization. With some experimentation I can confidently shoot at 1/8 sec and get a clean image. Technology is awesome! I still carry an ultralight monopod which doubles as a walking stick 🙂

  6. <— Also not a tripod person. Love the image, well done.

  7. Beautiful photo and thanks so much for sharing the info !!

  8. Great photo, great explanation

  9. Beautiful Laura, gorgeous “flow” to this image. I appreciate a non tripod user 🙂 I just can’t get the feeling for it, so much of my work comes from moving my camera to find the right look I am going for. I feel a tripod would impede my creative flow. My Sony RX100 has image stabilization too, incredible how often it saves me!

    • Glad you like the flow! I know what you mean. I feel like I can’t move around as freely sometimes but sometimes I like to get my geek on! Hope you’re having a great day! It’s gorgeous here

      • We are just back from a bike ride through the Redwoods! I didn’t know this until a few weeks ago, but they close the scenic drive through Redwood National Park to motor vehicles the first Saturday of the month, October through May. So, we drove up with our bikes and rode for two hours on the road! We were practically the only ones there, the boys loved it. Can’t wait to go back next month it is so magical.

  10. Useful information with a fabulous photo. Thanks Laura.

  11. Great shot Laura, wonderful composition 🙂
    I find it a fun challenge to take 1/8 – 1/6 image from the hand. Sometimes I manage to get something reasonably sharp 😉

  12. What a magnificent shot, Laura! I tried to use 1/4 second to capture waterfalls the other day, I held my camera on top of a rock. 🙂 I carry no more than my Canon D7 MkII and 2,3 lenses when I’m out in the field.
    Thank you so much for the lesson! 🙂

  13. Beautiful image, and thanks for the explanation.

  14. Beautiful photograph! I never ever use a tripod – I find it limits me and my shots – though for certain night shots it can be useful.

  15. I’m a sucker for the slow-shutter waterfall shots, and this is no exception. Lovely stuff Laura.

  16. Nice shot… My hands are very steady, but I would never shoot 1/8 second without a tripod

  17. Love this photo! It reminds me of someplace I would go to look for fairy villages 🙂

  18. I guess its time for me to start experimenting with hand held longer exposures. I do have a tripod but hate lugging it around. Your work inspires me, Lura. And thanks for always sharing your expertise.

  19. Lura. I like that. Might help if I read my comments before hitting “send”.

  20. Now you have me overwhelmed. For real. Laura, I honestly cannot believe you shot this without a tripod at 1/8s. And then the way you edited this image, I again am overwhelmed. And then I see your follower numbers. *sigh* Ms. Laura, you are lightyears ahead of me. I admit it. I am stunned by these waterfalls and everything you do. By the time I get time to put into my photography to learn what you know, you will have leaped way ahead of me. YOU ROCK!!! ❤

    • You are embarrassing me Amy! Besides….your blog has so much meaning and heartfelt messages. I wish I could do that but alas I’m terrible at communicating the way you do. We each have or strengths and that’s what makes this community so wonderful! Big hugs. ❤️

  21. Great image, Laura. And thanks for the technical info. I was aware of the 1/focal length rule but did not realize that DX formats require a 1.5 factor. I always learn something when I read your blog.

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