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! 🙂