How To Hold a Video Camcorder

For a stable image, how you hold your video camcorder is critical. Although there's a place for shaky images, most of the time you'd rather not have that. Many cameras and edit systems have programs or applications to stabilize your image. Nonetheless, the best way to make sure you have a stable image when you finish is to get it when you start. Here are some tips to help you get the best stable image to begin with.

Step 1: Camera Type

One of the main factors that will affect the stability of your image is the size of your camera. Some of the earliest camcorders, the ones that shot on VHS tapes, were large and heavy. The liability of this bulk issue was that the camcorder would exhaust the operator. On the positive side, though, the bulk helped keep the camera stable. The three different types of camcorders you're likely to encounter are:

  • FlipCams - they're light and convenient, but there's no gravitational resistance
  • HandyCams - a little larger, they usually have more features and a little bit of bulk, but not much weight to them
  • Pro-sumer camcorders - usually larger and generally the finest visual image, easier to stabilize

Step 2: Body Position & Grip 

It may seem basic, but your body position will help stabilize your camcorder for the best image. Make sure the feet are spread comfortably, but firmly on the ground. It's helpful to keep your elbows tucked in solidly against your body with the viewfinder in front of your eye. Don't lean down to the viewfinder - position the camcorder conveniently for your line of vision. Before you push "Record," make sure the camera is steady and in position.

Step 3: Lean

Stability generally comes down to structure. Use the architecture around you to help stabilize your camcorder. If there's a wall or an archway, let your weight rest against it. This will help stabilize you. In this situation, the bulk you're relying on is your own body. Stabilize your camcorder first. This can be particularly useful when you're shooting with the lighter FlipCams.

Step 4: Tripod

If you can, the best way to assure the stability of your camcorder is to use a tripod. This minimizes the opportunities for shaking. The camcorder can be set in position and locked there until you're ready to record. If you're going to use a movement, like a pan or a tilt, practice before you do it. Get used to the resistance of the tripod head. When it's time to record, make sure you touch the "Record" button as gently as possible, as jarring it can make the image shake.

Whether you use a FlipCam, a HandyCam or a Pro-Sumer camcorder, pay attention to image stability. For handheld shots, distribute your weight evenly, get a firm grip on the camera, and lean against a nearby structure. If a tripod is available, use it, as this will give you maximum image stability. These tips will help you get the most stable image possible.