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Very few photographers use a tripod or monopod to take all their pictures, and even the best built-in anti-shake systems have limitations. That's why it's still very important to hold your camera steadily when shooting pictures.
Digital SLRs with optical viewing systems have a great advantage over many point-and-shoot cameras in this respect because they're designed to be viewed at eye level w ith the camera pressed firmly against your face rather than held out at arm's length as you ogle at the LCD.
Unsteady hold: Many compact cameras lack an optical viewfinder, forcing you to hold the camera at arm's length—a position that can increase shaky shots. Photo © Jim Jurica / iStockphoto.com
The time-honored method of bracing your elbows at your sides, pressing the eyepiece into your eye socket, keeping your feet apart at about shoulder distance, arching your index finger over the shutter release, and gently squeezing the shutter button is still the best way to insure sharp handheld shots. Bracing the camera against any solid object—a big rock, car, tabletop or doorway—will also increase stability and minimize shake.
Not a DSLR, but not quite a Compact...
The new breed of cameras, MILCs (Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Compact), are almost as small as compact cameras but have interchangeable lenses like DSLRs. Some have electronic eye-level viewfinders and can be held to the face as you would with a DSLR. These are known by the acronym EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens). Some MILC cameras, to save space and weight, don't, but you may be able to buy an optical or electronic viewfinder as an optional add-on that slides into the flash shoe. I recommend spending the extra money to have this camera-steadying option.
A stable environment: SLRs must be held with both hands; by pressing the finder against your eye while tucking your elbow in your stomach you are creating a steadier holding position and your chances of getting sharper shots increases. Photo © Pawel Grabowski / iStockphoto.com
When buying a compact digital camera, make sure it has some form of image stabilization (most do). The best kind is optical stabilization; digital stabilization simply boosts the ISO, which can introduce digital noise, or grain, into your photos. If your camera has optical stabilization, keep it on all the time!