photo by Inside Creative House via iStock
There are times when you would like to be able to use a tripod, but you either don’t have the space to put one up or a decent way to transport it. And sometimes, you just forget to bring your tripod.
These tripod alternatives will allow you to capture images and video steadily. Most of these are equipment ideas, but a couple of them involve techniques for proper hand holding your gear.
This is probably first on your mental list of how to stabilize your camera without your full size tripod. A monopod is one of the most useful supports outside of a full tripod. They offer a fair amount of stability and a lot of mobility.
Some newer model tripods have removable center columns or legs that are designed to be used as monopods when on their own as tripod alternatives. The Manfrotto Befree 2N1 Aluminum Tripod/Monopod with 494 Ball Head is an example of this type of convertible tripod.
A nice monopod on its own is the Slik Lighty Pod III Monopod w/SBH-100 Ball Head which combines being lightweight, quick acting, and durable, besides being nicely budget friendly.
Small tripods as tripod alternatives? Why not?! Especially when it’s such a versatile model as the Joby GorillaPod 3K Kit.
Mini tripods are also sometimes referred to as table tripods, since they are often placed on a table or desk in order to give the camera mount enough height. The Joby GorrilaPod has a special set of legs that are ultra bendy and can be used as a grip to attach to a pole, a fence post, a tree limb, or something else to provide that height.
One of the tripod alternatives I’ve become rather fond of since I originally tested it for my first review of it is the OctoPad camera mount.
The OctoPad is a unique type of tripod alternative that has the best features of a soft pad and a secure mount. The bottom pad is firm yet slightly flexible and has a non-slip bottom that allows you to place it on almost any surface up to about a 45 degree angle without sliding.
It’s not a clamp or a suction cup, so you can place it on a lot of surfaces that won’t work with a suction cup or clamp. At its low price point, you can use a couple of these together to put a camera and a light or microphone together where needed.
Sometimes, a simple clamp is just what’s needed to place your camera right where it’s needed with great stability.
One of my favorites is the Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp, a heavy duty medium size clamp that can hold over 30 pounds of camera gear. I usually pair mine with the Manfrotto 490 Center Ball Head that has a super secure quick release.
Camera Bean Bag
Bean bags for cameras have been around for ages, a little material filled with rice or beans (uncooked, by the way) is a super versatile way to provide camera support that can fit on almost anything from a car window to a pile of rocks.
LensCoat LensSack Bean Bag Camera Support is a slightly higher tech version of a sack with dried food in it. It’s made of waterproof material and has zipper closure to let you add whatever you want to use as fill. Alternatives to beans or rice are plastic beads or polyester fill.
Good Hand Holding Technique
Photo by Theodor Vasile on Unsplash
Sometimes, you may just need to learn how to shoot without a tripod or any other type of camera support. Camera stabilization techniques are easy to learn and will benefit your photography in all sorts of situations, not simply low light.
A good stance can help keep your hand steady. One I like to demonstrate is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart, one slightly in front of the other. Hold the lens in your left hand, cradled with your elbow pointed down and your arm pressed into your abdomen. The right hand holds the camera by the grip.
Everything is done in a relaxed manner, as an ultra tight grip will introduce unsteadiness and the jitters. Practice makes perfect, so try out this stance at slower and slower shutter speeds to show yourself how much you’re improving.
Once you get this technique down, you can do it with any shutter speed. It feels natural and allows for freedom of movement, too. Even without any camera support at all, you can get sharper images by learning how to use tripod alternatives and good technique for holding your camera.