« 'Light: Science and Magic': Book Review | Main | Random Excellence: Valerio Perini »

Sunday, 18 January 2009


This is something that should be coming with all the cameras. I've seen heaps of people who raise their left elbow way up, put their left thumb below the lens and their fingers above it so their left hand has almost no role in supporting the camera.

This manual page should also be required reading for those who want to review Olympus E-4xx series and similar cameras. _This_ is the way to hold them. Do not try to hold E-420 like it has a grip and then later complain it's uncomfortable to hold. It's almost the same as holding your fork like a spoon. You can do it, but it's awfully awkward.

It's a shame that camera makers don't include this advice in their manuals any more. When friends ask me about curing "out of focus" (actually fuzzy) pictures, there usually follows a lesson in holding the camera steady.

I expect a healthy Swiftian debate between those who insist that when the camera is in portrait orientation the right hand should be down to stabilize the camera, and those who insist that the left hand, which has nothing to do except stabilize the camera, should be lowest.


Mike Butkus has a great site.

A few years ago I remarked to a friend who still owned a Nikkormat that if the thing stopped working, he could attach one of those inexpensive 400 mm Spiratone lenses to it and keep it by the front door to bash burglars with. That combo would make a daunting weapon.

Mike Butkus' site is an excellent resource. Here are a few other sites with classic camera manuals available for download:

KY Photo: http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/manuallinks.html

LensInc.: http://www.lensinc.net/freeuser.html

DessauPhoto [Special-interest only: broschures for DDR (East German) cameras]: http://www.dessauphoto.de/Prospekte/body_prospekte.htm

Best regards,
Adam McAnaney

Pentax is great with things like this. They offer manuals for many of their old cameras as free PDF downloads, so if you're not sure how to use your Spotmatic or ME Super (the latter has instructions on how to hold it just like the Nikkormat manual) then go to http://www.pentaximaging.com/support/manuals-and-literature/ -- no $3 necessary.

I would like to suggest an alternate title:

"How to Hold a Nikkormat like James Bond"

The posture that erlik describes in the first comment is a dead giveaway that the person is an amateur (and not just and amateur -- a beginner). It always riles me up when I see a movie or TV show where an actor is playing a pro photographer and they hold their camera like that. It completely ruins the scene.

The comments to this entry are closed.