This happens a lot: you’ve been running around with your iPhone or other phone camera, or perhaps even a bigger DSLR or film camera on a circuit or other event. You watch your stuff back on the tiny phone or LCD screen and it looks great!
But then you want to show your friends on your TV and you’re embarrassed by the wild shaking that you didn’t notice before… The reason is simple: A tiny shake on your small screen becomes a really big one on the laptop or TV screen. You really want to avoid shaking as much as possible, and even when you think you’re doing o.k. while filming and checking the small screen, keep in mind it needs to be more stable for good playback on bigger screens.
Nowadays many camera’s have quite good stabilisation built-in. Even some phones have it. It’s often just a digital trick, moving pixels around, but if it’s an option on your camera, be sure it’s swichted on. If you’re lucky enough to have a camera with so called “optical stabilisation” that’s even better. It can be built into the camera, the lens, or even both (working together). In this case it won’t degrade your image quality and you will get far better results. If you purchase a new camera, check for it, knowing “optical” is superior.
If you have the stabilisation or not, there’s always tricks you can use get more stable shots, even without a tripod. The first is to properly get ready. Don’t just rush around and flash your camera, but stand firm, know where you’re going to shoot. Keep your legs about 50 cm apart, so your lower body becomes like a triangle stable base. Keep the camera as close to your body as possible. The further you hold it, the more ‘enlarged’ your body movements (that can even be as small as breathing) will become. Also, when holding your camera far, there’s a bigger chance someone bumps into you if it’s a crowded place. So basically: feet: wide, upper body: small.
Then, if possible, find something to support you. Some lamp post can be useful to lean against and give stability. A wall is another obvious support. Lean against it and be stable!
Then finally, if you want to do some movement (for instance panning; moving the camera from one side to another) do it from your waist. Keep your arms in fixed position, elbows curved down, close to your chest. Move to the starting side using your lower spine as pivot point. Then move slowly to the other side keeping your upper body and arms the same position, only turnig your lower back.
I often take and hold a good breath before i do such a move to eliminate breating movements. As a side effect your lungs will be a stablilizing ‘cushion’ to keep you straight and move smooth more easily. it sounds crazy but it really works!
Happy stable shooting!