Steady Your Point ‘n’ Shoot

Point and Shoot cameras are notoriously difficult to keep steady in low light photography situations. This is mainly because they’re so light. Every slight movement of your hand also influences the movement of the camera. In comparison, larger (and heavier) camera users can find that the weight of the camera can be a steadying factor although lengthy use of a heavy camera will eventually make your hands shake more.

Here are a few tips that should help you steady your swaying forearms when taking these photographs.

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1. Don’t Use the LCD Display.

Using the LCD display to compose your photographs is possibly the easiest way to shoot with a digital Point ‘n Shoot. Yes, they don’t make the viewfinders the way they used to, but low light conditions are not the best situation to test your forearm stability.

Instead, you should squash your eye against that viewfinder, and peer into that little glass lens. Doing this supports the camera, and it’s less susceptible to sway (unless you’re drunk).

2. Brace Yourself

Steady yourself by leaning against a rigid structure such as a wall or concrete post. Put your back against it, press as much of your body into it as possible. This should get you ready for your low-light hand-held point and shoot photograph.

You could also use a wall, chair or any other appropriate support to rest your camera or hands on when taking the photograph.

3. Slow and Steady…

Remember that this is not a race, the marines have a motto that they follow “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”. This is true here too. If you’re in less of a hurry to take the photograph and move away, you’re more likely to keep the camera steady and in-position longer.

This will give you a steady, shake-free photograph, and no need to take another photograph.

4. Squeeze the ‘trigger’ Don’t Press

Since photographers use similar terminology to gun users (e.g.: I’m going outside to shoot some brilliant photographs), I’m quoting a firearms guide here. Use the same principles when squeezing your shutter release. It works; no matter whether you’re using a point and shoot, or a D-SLR.

Poor shooting is caused by the aim being disturbed before the bullet leaves the barrel of the weapon.  This is usually the result of the shooter jerking the trigger or flinching. Jerking is an effort to fire the weapon at the precise time when the slights align with the target, and flinching is a reflex caused by anticipating recoil.

Trigger squeeze is the independent rearward movement of the trigger finger without disturbance of the sight alignment until the weapon fires.  First, the slack in the trigger is taken up.  You will then hit the break point of the trigger.  Continue applying steadily increasing pressure until the weapon fires.  If the trigger is squeezed properly, you will not know exactly when the weapon will fire; thus, you will tend not to flinch or jerk.

Squeeze the shutter release, don’t press the button.

5. Breathe Correctly

Shallow, jagged breaths tend to bob your head and upper body up and down, keeping the camera moving at all times, and more likely to blur your photograph. Breathe calmly, in long, deep breaths, and squeeze the shutter release either when you’ve breathed in fully, or let out all the air in your lungs.

This way you will not be gasping for your next breath, and your chest and head will not be in motion. You may have guessed that this is a also gun user’s technique, and it works.

6. Use a Higher ISO

Is this obvious or what? Yes, but many people leave it to their cameras to decide. Some point n shoot cameras have rather shameful high ISO handling, but others are pretty good. Is your camera good for high ISO, low-light photography? Experiment! Take some photographs for fun, before you absolutely ‘have to’ so that you know which settings are usable. This will leave you prepared to move to the highest usable ISO when you want / need to.

7. Use the Self-timer

This is a good trick. Set up the camera in a stable position on a wall, or table, or hey, just use your mini tripod. Then set up the camera to shoot a photograph by itself, with a timed delay.

This will eliminate photographer-induced (that’s you, matey) shake and (here’s a bonus) you get to be in the photograph too… How cool is that? ;)

I’ve also written about how you can minimise vibrations for GoPro Cameras on moving vehicles, etc.

Do you have a tip that I’ve missed out? Help your fellow photographers by adding to this list in the comments.

Susheel Chandradhas

Susheel Chandradhas

Susheel Chandradhas is a Product Photographer and Filmmaker based in India. He has been taking photographs (almost) all his life. He has a diploma and a bachelors degree in Visual Communication, where his classmates all believed that he would write a book on photography... Instead, he writes on this website (because - isn't a community more fun?).

His passions include photography, parkour, wide-angle lenses, blue skies, fire extinguishers, and fast computers.

In addition to writing for Beyond Photo Tips, Susheel is a staff writer for, and owns and runs ColoursAlive, a photography, and video production studio.

You can connect with Susheel on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

Articles: 158


  1. Some great tips here, especially if you have a super-zoom which can get really shaky when you get up in the maximum ranges.

    I usually hold my breath for some of the shakier shots, or use the timer in a multi-shot mode, so that it will take 3 consecutive shots. This means that I have a 1 in 3 chance of at least one of the shots turning out pretty clear. I usually combine this with a wall or ground brace, or I just plant my feet firmly. I know I should use the tripod more, but I just don’t have the room to carry one all the time.

    I do borrow chairs, upside-down bins, pails, etc instead to try and get that steady shot.

  2. Great tips I especially like the quote from the firearms guide. I learned proper shooting techniques when I was in Boy Scouts and whenever I’m taking a slow shutter speed shot I always find myself controlling my breathing and gently squeezing the shutter release. Another tip that is kind of silly but works is to stabilize over someones shoulder. It works better if you are using a DSLR and a telephoto lens because you can put the lens on the shoulder and use it as kind of a jury rigged mono pod, but you can still put your arms over someone’s shoulder to kind of steady yourself with a point ‘n’ shoot.

  3. Some great tips there. There is a lot of similarity between shhoting a firearm and a camera. Don’t hold your breath though… It will not make things more stable.

    I have lost some great photographs through camera shake and its really annoying!!!

  4. I agree with your tip on using the digital screen instead of the viewfinder. Nowadays you see so many people wandering about with their little compacts at arms length like zombies.

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