How to Keep Your Camera Steady when You Don't Have a Tripod

If you're up a creek without a tripod, you can use these tips to keep your camera nice and steady.

Ideally, every time you go out to shoot footage, whether it be for leisure or for a specific project, you carried along a tripod to keep your camera steady. But we all know that occasionally that's not possible—either you forgot it, couldn't bring it, it got broken, or you simply don't have one—which is why it's important to know how to stabilize your camera when you find yourself without. There are loads of things you can do, like making some DIY stabilizers or using stuff from home to absorb any shock, but the first thing you should know how to do is how to properly hold your camera. This video from Adorama shows you some techniques for doing just that.

That's super basic—it's the kind of thing that might proceed learning how to turn your camera on, so let's talk about some other not so obvious things you can do to stabilize your camera. (Some of these things you've probably already done!)

These tips from Filmora are pretty helpful, especially because they utilize things you can usually find lying around in your house, car, or even in your pocket. You can attach a string to your camera to create a makeshift tripod using your feet as a base, set your camera on some sturdy objects, like books, tables, etc., attach a rubber band to your belt loop and attach the other side to your camera, or even cut a hole in a shopping bag and put your camera inside. 

If you want a good DIY project, you could build a shoulder rig out of $70 worth of equipment, a DIY Steadicam with off the shelf parts for $100, or a handheld stabilizer out of LEGOs. These won't necessarily help you if you've forgotten your tripod (you probably won't find a bucket of LEGOs just lying around somewhere), but they are pretty nifty alternatives.

And of course, if you're shooting with a GoPro, you can always use this important technique: hold the damn thing against your face. GENIUS!     

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Some of the newer cameras have built-in 5-axis stabilization ( Olympus EM-1 Mk2, Pansonic GX85, Panasonic G85, Sony A6500, Sony A7S II ) that allow for very steady hand-held shots.

Some of these cameras also have dual stabilization mode where both lens and camera stabilizers work together and allow you to shoot sharp 5 second hand-held photos. ( turns you into a human tripod )

Here are some 5 - 6 second hand-held photos shot with the Olympus EM-1 Mk2...

Handheld 5 second night shot with this new camera :
Crop from the same 5 second night shot :

6 second handheld shot of night traffic :
Crop from the same 6 second night traffic shot :

1/2 second handheld shot with lens equivalent to 200mm on a Full Frame camera :
Crop from 1/2 second handheld shot with 200mm equiv lens :

Link to full Robin Wong EM-1 Mk2 camera review :

This dual-stabilization mode also works when shooting video, which should produce very steady hand-held videos.
( still waiting for proper video tests with this new camera )

November 29, 2016 at 8:06AM, Edited November 29, 8:14AM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

1. Buy a loupe (specific to your camera model) for as cheap as $10 off amazon. Mine uses magnets to attach/detach:

2. Buy a cheap pistol grip:

3. Hold the camera against your face!

November 29, 2016 at 9:41AM

Andrew Kierans
Digital Cinema Technician