Sometimes you want to take a picture and you do not have a tripod at hand. The slowest shutter speed you can use safely without a tripod and without getting any blur is the length of your focal distance. If your focal distance is 100 mm, then, the slowest shutter speed you can use without a tripod is 1/100.
More on that in an article I’ve written on taking clean crisp photos.
But at other times, things may get even complicated.
Slowest Shutter Speed for Crop Sensor Cameras
For example, if you have a crop sensor camera, this rule changes. Here’s why. Nikon crop sensors have a crop ratio of 1.5 and Canon crop sensors have a crop ratio of 1.6. If you use the rule above with a crop sensor, you will still get camera blur.
Because for a crop sensor camera, the real length of the lens at 100 mm is the focal length multiplied with the crop factor. So, 100 mm on a Nikon crop camera will be 150 mm, and on a Canon crop camera, it will be 160 mm.
So, the slowest shutter speed you can use now is 1/150 for Nikon and 1/160 for Canon.
But sometimes you want to go even slower. Maybe you want to capture a stream or a waterfall and you don’t have a tripod with you. How do you go slower than the rule?
A Few Tips to Get to Slower Shutter Speed
Here are a few tricks that will help you go to a slower shutter speed.
Tuck in Your Elbows
After you’ve gripped your camera firmly, tuck in your elbows closer to your chest and stomach. This way you will have more stability and will avoid some of the camera shakes.
Control Your Movement With Your Breath
Your breath also plays a great role in camera shake. This is a trick I have found very useful: as you are focusing the photo (your shutter button is pressed halfway), inhale deeply, exhale all the air and when you are close to exhaling all the air, hold your breath and then take the photo. This helped me is a lot of situations where I needed to get a slower shutter speed.
Use Your Camera Bag as an Improvised Tripod
This one goes to our resourcefulness as humans and photographers. Our camera bag is always with us, even when we don’t have a tripod. Why not use it instead? You can place your bag on a firm surface and then place your camera on the bag. This will help you get to slower shutter speed even without a tripod.
Or Just Place the Camera on Something Solid
Sometimes it happens that you don’t have neither a tripod, nor your camera bag. In these times we are to rely on our resourcefulness even further. You can place your camera on something firm and solid that will keep it still while you are taking the picture.
But sometimes, regardless of how hard we are trying, you can’t go slower past a certain point without a tripod. Because of this, it is best to get a mini tripod that will help us in these times. These are small and most of the time we won’t even notice having them on us.
The Best Mini Tripods
Here are a few fairly priced mini tripods that are fairly priced.
Pedco UltraPod II
This one weighs around 120 grams and has a capacity of 2.7 kg. Now it is easy to see how this small tripod will go unnoticed in your camera bag. Not only that but also the price is great for it. Usually, it goes around 25$. You can check the price on Amazon here.
Joby JB01507 GorillaPod 3K Kit
This one is a little heavier (actually, about 4 times heavier than the other one), weighing around 400 grams, but it is even more versatile and has a capacity of 3 kg. The legs of this tripod are flexible and you can mount this tripod just about everywhere. The price is usually around 55$. Here you can check the actual price of this tripod.
Out of the tree we have presented here, this one is the heaviest weighing around 700 grams. But, to compensate for that, it has a capacity of 5 kg and it is extendable.
Even though it is heavier, it doesn’t take a lot of space and it can extend to suit any of your needs. This tripod can extend up to 50cm. So, this is a mini tripod that allows you to ‘customize the height’. The price is usually below 50$, you can check the Amazon price here.
If you don’t have a tripod at hand, you don’t need to lose hearth, you can still go so slower shutter speeds. But the best compromise between a tripod and ease of carrying is a mini tripod.