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Thread: Holding your camera level

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    neverhood311's Avatar
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    Holding your camera level

    I have trouble holding my camera level, especially when I hold it vertically. Even when I try to use the autofocus points as a reference, I usually come out a little slanted. I really don't enjoy rotating and cropping my photos in Photoshop because I usually frame the photos with the exact focal length I need. Plus, I can't stand trimming pixels off my 10.1 megapixel images.

    What are some ways to improve holding my camera level? (besides buying a Canon 7D)

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    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Holding your camera level

    I replace my focus screens with the grid screens that Canon sells.They help alot.

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Speaking just personally.

    Until I recently took early retirement, I was a commercial fisherman and always ended up with badly aligned horizons when shooting from my moving boat. Eventually, I always said to myself, 'Is the horizon level before pressing the shutter'. Not easy for action shots on a rolling boat; but eventually my horizons improved and I now get them fairly correct without even thinking.

    But for quick shots, that does mean 'fairly correct' and they still often require a very slight rotation. I think this is normal unless you are shooting on a tripod and can afford time to concentrate on exact levelness before shooting.

    Therefore, I always allow some spare space for cropping, and that often 'saves the day' because I failed to notice something important about the scene.

    Think before you click, is the best advice I can offer.

    Also, the 'megapixel race' is frequently overrated. For most applications, 10 mp is more than adequate so you can lose 10% without any worries. In fact a lot of us can remember when 4 mp was considered excessive!

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Quote Originally Posted by neverhood311 View Post
    I really don't enjoy rotating and cropping my photos in Photoshop because I usually frame the photos with the exact focal length I need.
    I used to tell my flying instructor that I didn't like trimming the aircraft in a turn; his response: GET OVER IT! I'd suggest the same for you (but politely of course). In ACR there is the leveling tool that levels and crops in 1 operation - in Photoshop just go ctrl-A then ctrl-T and use the mouse (dragging a new guide from the ruler can help too).

    Plus, I can't stand trimming pixels off my 10.1 megapixel images.
    Get over it too!

    Seriously, it's a way of life. You shouldn't need to throw away too many, but unless you're producing very large prints (talking feet, not inches here) you won't notice the difference.

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    neverhood311's Avatar
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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    In ACR there is the leveling tool that levels and crops in 1 operation
    Wow, I had no idea this existed! That's pretty cool. That was another one of my problems: finding the best crop from the rotated image. I guess this solves that problem. Thanks Colin. And also Geoff and Jim.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Now Y'all see - if you had only bought Nikon, the default screen comes with the markers on

    (I just know I'm gonna regret that)

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    the default screen comes with the markers on
    I know - aren't they awful!

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I know - aren't they awful!
    In much the same way the lines in the centre of the road encourage cars not to have head on collisions

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    One of the best ways i know of keeping the camera straight is to shoot with both eyes open.

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Holding your camera level

    I too have issues with straight horizons.

    I was at a market selling prints and things were a bit slow. There was a chiropractor offering to measure up people to see if their spine was straight.

    I said you may as well give me a go while we are waiting.

    His diagnosis was, apart from many differing angles in my spine, was that I carried my head slightly tilted to the right. When I said ‘I know’, he asked ‘how did I know’. I replied ‘because I cannot take a straight horizon’. That goodness for PS

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    In much the same way the lines in the centre of the road encourage cars not to have head on collisions
    Unfortunately the pilot in me requires me to line up on the centerline whenever I think about flying whilst driving!

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Now Y'all see - if you had only bought Nikon, the default screen comes with the markers on

    (I just know I'm gonna regret that)
    I like the fact that you can turn them on or off, unlike on the old Nikons where you had to pysically change the focus screen.

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    I'm going to be the heretic, here and note that I use Picasa when I need to straighten a horizon. The easiest tool of all the editors I have.

    When my D70 came in last Friday, I spent probably 30 minutes just turning on grids, looking through the finder, turning off grids, looking through the finder, turning on ... You get the idea.

    Pops

  14. #14
    wilgk's Avatar
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    Re: Holding your camera level

    I second that Pops - Picasa for a free program, I think has quite a lot of quick & easy tools - before you get serious with the keepers.

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Now Y'all see - if you had only bought Nikon, the default screen comes with the markers on

    (I just know I'm gonna regret that)
    The grid lines on the Nikon work fine, but actually what I use in my Ricoh GX200 is the automatic levelling, which you can turn on or off. It shows you when you are exactly level, works great and every camera should have that in the future.

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    OK, I messed up here due to a lack of concentration!

    [IMG]Holding your camera level[/IMG]

    I was concentrating on the pole not the background.

    But this is a close crop anyway to demonstrate the advantages of leaving your self a bit of working space. On the original there was enough room for correction.

    And there are enough other problems on this photo to ensure that it won't be a prizewinner anyway! But the subject's mother (I've known 3 generations of the family) was struggling with a basic point and shoot so I've still managed something which is better than the alternatives.

    The light is always difficult at this event, but I only need one image which will be printed very small in next years programme so I should get something usable from the 50+ that I shot.

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    neverhood311's Avatar
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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Geoff, your image brings to mind another problem I sometimes have. Sometimes I use the waterline/horizon in the distance to judge how level my photo is before taking it. However, sometimes (actually, most of the time) the waterline/horizon isn't perfectly perpendicular to me, so I can't use that to judge; sometimes it's SUPPOSED to be a slightly slanted line in the photo.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Holding your camera level

    True, so then you use a vertical building edge (near the middle of frame) - and if that ain't there, who cares

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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    True, so then you use a vertical building edge (near the middle of frame) - and if that ain't there, who cares
    Just be careful when visiting Italy.

    Pops

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Holding your camera level

    Quote Originally Posted by PopsPhotos View Post
    Just be careful when visiting Italy.
    Now you're just taking the Pisa!

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