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Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 9 of 107

Camera & Lens Stabilization


Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 9 of 107

Camera & Lens Stabilization


Lesson Info

Camera & Lens Stabilization

Now the other thing that comes up with shutter speeds is, you are also moving when you're photographing in many cases, because you're not on a tripod in certain situations, and so you need to be concerned about shutter speeds, not just for what's going on out there, but what's happening right there in your hands with your camera. And so we want to talk about handholding the camera, and safe shutter speeds, and dealing with tripods and so forth. First off, there is the correct way, and then a shall we say less correct way of holding the camera, and it has to do mostly with your left hand. And if I just grab one of my cameras right here, let's get this off the tripod, and so to be honest with you, the wrong way feels right. At first, when people grab a camera, they often just like, "That's how it fits there!" That's not really the best way to hold a camera and the reason is because your elbow is kinda flapping out in the wind here with no support. It's much better, thumbs up, I don't kno...

w how you'll ever remember that, but thumbs up holding the lens like this, and now you can get your elbow in and support it on your body, and so it's a much more comfortable position, it's a much more stable position, and it's how you should be holding your cameras. It's something that takes a little bit of practice before you get used to it, but it's something that you'll notice all the top photographers do on a regular basis. Let's talk about minimum shutter speeds for handholding. There's a rule of thumb that's generally pretty true, we'll talk about it as we go through this class, and the handholding rule of thumb is that the minimum shutter speed you need to have is equal to one over the focal length or faster. So what that means if that seems like gibberish to you, is let's take a lens. In this case we have a 60 millimeter lens. One over 60 is the minimum shutter speed that we want to use with that lens. One 60th of a second. "But I don't a 60 millimeter lens, I have a 50 millimeter lens." Well, 50's pretty close to 60, it's gonna go into the same category. You have yourself a big 100 to 400. Well it depends on if you're at 100 or 200 or as to what your minimum shutter speed would be, but it would be a faster set of shuttle speeds because that longer lens is gonna magnify your hand movements. If you have a wider angle lens, you'll be able to get away with some slightly slower shutter speeds as far as your minimum shutter speed. Remember you could always set something faster, this is just kind of the bottom end of the bracket. Now the technology that has changed this over the years is stabilization systems. First it was in lenses, now it's in bodies and sometimes it's in both. And so there's a number of different companies, most of the companies have some sort of lens stabilization system on some, but generally not all of their lenses that are available. Some cameras have decided to put stabilization devices in the lenses. Now what happens when you hook them both up together? Well sometimes they work together, for instance Olympus has a really good system that they work together very well, and they combine. In other cases it just reverts to the one in the lens, 'cause the lens is usually the better working one. The one in the body is more convenient, does a good job, but it's generally not as good as the ones in the lenses. But it varies from item to item. And so this is usually a pretty notable feature, and so it's something that they're going to note with special letters on the lens. And they've all tried to choose different names but they all do the same thing. There's a gyro in the lens or the camera that is sensing your movement, and then it's counter moving with either the sensor or the lens movements itself. And they're all good, I'm happy with all of them, I like them all, they're quite fine. It does vary from one manufacturer to the other in only the slightest of ways. So what difference would it make? Well if you're using a 200 millimeter lens, what shutter speed do we need? One over 200, well one over 60's not gonna be good, that's too slow a shutter speed. We're likely to get a blurry shot. So if we can't get a faster shutter speed, we could use the stabilization system that we have in the lens or the body, and shoot pictures of non-moving subjects and get them sharp at slower shutter speeds than we would normally need. Normally with this I would want to have one 250th of a second, 'cause that's the closest shutter speed to 200th. So different companies will have different standards as to how good they are. And they might rate them, and you might have to dig into the product literature, or the technical specs of that particular item to find out how good it is. So the Nikon 300 two-eight is good for three stops of stabilization. What does that mean? It means normally you should be at 250th or above, but with three stop stabilization, 125, 60, you could shoot it handheld at a 30th of a second, and probably get a sharp shot. It depends on your movement as well. Some people are more steady than others, and you might need one above what everyone else needs or one below, it varies. Another popular option here is Canon, most of their lenses have four stops of image stabilization. With a 35 millimeter lens, you would normally be at a 30th of a second, and then you just count down four stops. So with that lens, in theory, theory, this isn't real world, you could get a sharp picture, handholding, at a half second. Sometimes the manufacturers in the past have been a little boastful about their claims. "We're good for this!" And then everyone else who tests says, "No, it's one stop less than that." So if you take one stop off of what they say that's probably more real world, but they do actually have to meet industry standards now. So it's a little bit more accurate now than it was in the first 10 years of stabilization. So if you think about a 50 millimeter lens, basically you need everything from 60 and above for handheld is fine, below that, you need tripod stuff. And so you're gonna get nice sharp images there, and what I've found is sometimes I get sharp images when I shoot at slower shutter speeds but sometimes not, so there's kinda this mixed zone where it's kind of a grab bag whether you're gonna be sharp or not and then there's some other ones, like I am always blurry at a quarter of a second. And what a stabilized lens will do, well it will extend my reach as to how far I can reach in to those slower shutter speeds. When I'm using a 24 millimeter lens, I can use a little bit slower shutter speed to get my handheld shots. And then when I use a stabilized 24 millimeter lens, it extends even further. And so stabilization just extends the opportunity for handheld shooting. But remember this is only for stationary subjects where you are the only thing that's moving. With a 200 millimeter lens, I can shoot at 125th, most people are around 250th, I'm a little better than average there, but with stabilization, boy that can really help out. So I much prefer to have a stabilized lens than a non-stabilized lens. It just makes it more versatile in most all cases. However, one thing that you need to remember for stabilized bodies and lenses, is that you need to turn it off when you put it on a tripod. Apparently belts and suspenders are not a good thing to use at the same time. The lens is trying to look for movement, and so if it's not moving, it tends to like, "Are you moving? Are you moving?" And then that actually causes the blur. And so if you know your camera's rock solid on a tripod, you should turn it off. Now there are some cases where you might put a camera on a tripod and the wind is still buffeting and hitting it, you should still leave it on. So if the camera's moving or has a chance of movement, then you should leave it on. So in the world of photography, we have handholdable shutter speeds, and then we have tripod shutter speeds. And I know a lot of people who get into photography are kinda like I was when I got into photography and I didn't want to be the tripod photographer. I wanted the freedom of just walking around with my camera and taking photos, and the whole tri-- that just goes to so much stuff, you know, who wants to do all that stuff? Well the fact of the matter is that if you don't want to use a tripod, first, that's totally fine. That is your choice. But if you say, "I'm willing to use a tripod 'cause it's gonna solve some problems for me," it allows you to do a lot of things that you can't do handheld. And I like versatility. I like options, and thus I like the tripod. Because it gives me more options and more things that I can shoot with. Now obviously it's gonna help out shooting in low light conditions, but it helps out in many other ways as well, and we'll talk more about this when we get into the gadget section. But it's gonna get sharper images, it's gonna give you greater depth of field which I'll talk about in the lens section, and it forces you to slow down and think a little bit more. If I go up and I shoot something handheld, I'm probably gonna shoot 10, 12 shots of it. If I get up on a tripod, I'm gonna probably shoot three or four shots. Just 'cause I know that I've narrowed out all those problems that I would normally get handholding, getting things lined up. I'm sorry, you cannot shoot this picture handheld in any way, shape, or form. There is no stabilization system that will keep you steady for 30 seconds. You'll not be able to get the Milky Way in a 45 second shot, you have to have a tripod in order to do that. You want those blurry shots of water? Most of them are gonna take a tripod. 'Cause it requires a very long shutter speed. And if you're working off of a tripod, you can use a cable release to trigger your camera so you're not moving it, I sometimes like to cheat, when it's okay, and in this case I use the self timer. A two second or a 10 second self timer, get my hands off the camera, the vibrations settle out, there is no movement in the camera when the picture is being taken. But the cable release is really nice when you're trying to time something. Which can be very important in those situations. So, your next learning project, take a look at it, is the handholding test. This is not holding hands with your partner or anything, this is how steady can you hold a camera. And this one's a fun one to do. How good are you, walking in and getting a shot at a slow shutter speed? And you can do this, the steps are in there, I'm not gonna go through them here, but you want to do them a couple of different ways. You want to just do them, "Okay, stand like this. Okay, now I'm gonna stand like this, knees bent, feet apart. And then I'm gonna do it leaning up against this, and then I'm gonna do it sitting down, and then I'm gonna try it with my longer lens, then I'm gonna do it with the stabilization turned off," and see where those different limitations are for you. Because of me, I know that when I get down to certain shutter speeds, I gotta get on a tripod. But I know my limit, because I've gone through this test, and so this is a good test for you to go through, and just be really knowledgeable about what is your limit, for holding shutter speed, for holding the camera with slower shutter speeds.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.

Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.
  • How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.

John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. You’ll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Photographic Characteristics
  3. Camera Types
  4. Viewing System
  5. Lens System
  6. Shutter System
  7. Shutter Speed Basics
  8. Shutter Speed Effects
  9. Camera & Lens Stabilization
  10. Quiz: Shutter Speeds
  11. Camera Settings Overview
  12. Drive Mode & Buffer
  13. Camera Settings - Details
  14. Sensor Size: Basics
  15. Sensor Sizes: Compared
  16. The Sensor - Pixels
  17. Sensor Size - ISO
  18. Focal Length
  19. Angle of View
  20. Practicing Angle of View
  21. Quiz: Focal Length
  22. Fisheye Lens
  23. Tilt & Shift Lens
  24. Subject Zone
  25. Lens Speed
  26. Aperture
  27. Depth of Field (DOF)
  28. Quiz: Apertures
  29. Lens Quality
  30. Light Meter Basics
  31. Histogram
  32. Quiz: Histogram
  33. Dynamic Range
  34. Exposure Modes
  35. Sunny 16 Rule
  36. Exposure Bracketing
  37. Exposure Values
  38. Quiz: Exposure
  39. Focusing Basics
  40. Auto Focus (AF)
  41. Focus Points
  42. Focus Tracking
  43. Focusing Q&A
  44. Manual Focus
  45. Digital Focus Assistance
  46. Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF)
  47. Quiz: Depth of Field
  48. DOF Preview & Focusing Screens
  49. Lens Sharpness
  50. Camera Movement
  51. Advanced Techniques
  52. Quiz: Hyperfocal Distance
  53. Auto Focus Calibration
  54. Focus Stacking
  55. Quiz: Focus Problems
  56. Camera Accessories
  57. Lens Accessories
  58. Lens Adaptors & Cleaning
  59. Macro
  60. Flash & Lighting
  61. Tripods
  62. Cases
  63. Being a Photographer
  64. Natural Light: Direct Sunlight
  65. Natural Light: Indirect Sunlight
  66. Natural Light: Mixed
  67. Twilight: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  68. Cloud & Color Pop: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  69. Silhouette & Starburst: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  70. Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  71. Quiz: Lighting
  72. Light Management
  73. Flash Fundamentals
  74. Speedlights
  75. Built-In & Add-On Flash
  76. Off-Camera Flash
  77. Off-Camera Flash For Portraits
  78. Advanced Flash Techniques
  79. Editing Assessments & Goals
  80. Editing Set-Up
  81. Importing Images
  82. Organizing Your Images
  83. Culling Images
  84. Categories of Development
  85. Adjusting Exposure
  86. Remove Distractions
  87. Cropping Your Images
  88. Composition Basics
  89. Point of View
  90. Angle of View
  91. Subject Placement
  92. Framing Your Shot
  93. Foreground & Background & Scale
  94. Rule of Odds
  95. Bad Composition
  96. Multi-Shot Techniques
  97. Pixel Shift, Time Lapse, Selective Cloning & Noise Reduction
  98. Human Vision vs The Camera
  99. Visual Perception
  100. Quiz: Visual Balance
  101. Visual Drama
  102. Elements of Design
  103. Texture & Negative Space
  104. Black & White & Color
  105. The Photographic Process
  106. Working the Shot
  107. What Makes a Great Photograph?


a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!


Dear John, thanks for this outstanding classes. You are not only a great photographer and instructor, but your classes are pleasant, they are not boring, with a good sense of humor, they go straight to the point and have a good time listening to you. Please, keep teaching what you like most, and I will continue to look for your classes. And thanks for using a plain English, that it's important for people who has another language as native language. Thanks again, Juan