How To Hold Binoculars Steady (easy ways for better long viewing)
Do you find when using binoculars for any length of time the image starts to blur? You can’t seem to prevent it whatever you do even though your binoculars are no greater than 10x (because any magnification above 10x causes our natural shake to be exaggerated). If this sounds like the problem you’re having read on, we’ll explain why it happens, and what you can do to reduce it.
Why Do Binoculars Shake After Holding Them For Any Length Of Time?
It’s all down to the physiology of the human body and something every human being has to put up with. When holding any object, even a sheet of A4 paper out in front of us for even a relatively short time, our arms begin to shake. It’s not because we’re weak, or tired, it’s simply the way the human body works.
Putting parts of our body under tension causes them to shake involuntarily, there’s even a medical term for it. It’s called a tremor and it’s perfectly natural and normal. There are many ways to relieve this tremor when trying to keep binoculars still enough to use them correctly, and that’s what we’re going to find out about now.
21 Ways To Remove (Or lessen) Shaking Binoculars
Now we know it’s nothing to do with the binoculars, it’s us, we can do something about the shakes. Actually, the first thing to do is ensure your binoculars are no more powerful than 10x, this is because anything above 10x exaggerates our natural shake and makes it impossible to see a clear image.
Get The Magnification Right
Imagine that slight shake under 15x magnification. Every image will be moving 15 times due to that slight shake. Making it impossible to see anything but a blur. So the first thing to do is be sure your binoculars are no more than 10x.
Use The Correct Holding Technique
The most common way to look through binoculars is to grab them with two hands and lift them up to your eyes and look through them with absolutely no thought on how you’re holding them. To help our bodies to hold the binoculars steady there are a few things we should do, they are;
- Grip The Binoculars With Both Hands
Using a light grip, don’t squeeze the binoculars tightly as that increases the risk of shaking. Relax your hands and arms slightly. The less tension in your arms and hands, the less shaking in the binoculars.
- Tuck In Your Elbows
Don’t stand with your elbows out at the sides like wings. Tuck your elbows into your body. Rest your arms onto your chest and belly, your body has now become a brace for the binoculars, it’s not just your arms doing the supporting now, it’s most of your upper body.
- Stand With Your Legs Braced
By bracing your legs as if you were about to hold a heavy weight, you will find your whole body becomes part of the support for the binoculars.
Improve Your Grip
Instead of just holding the binoculars randomly, try to consciously hold them close to the eyepieces. Then rest your thumb and index fingers against your face, this not only helps to support the binoculars weight, but also helps to block any light from the side.
Make An Elbow Cradle
This is achieved by holding both hands on one lens tube resting the binoculars on the other arm. Just grab the binoculars holding the right lens tube with your right hand. Then using your left hand, grab the same lens tube (right) the binoculars should now be automatically resting on your left arm. When the arms get tired, just swap grip onto the other arms.
Use The Strap
By wrapping the binocular strap around your arms to give support through the tension of the strap.
Use A Fence
If possible, use a nearby fence to rest the binoculars on, this will transfer the majority of the weight of the binoculars from your arms and onto the fence. Giving your arms less to hold, will relieve the tension in your arms and reduce the shake.
Use A Rock
Exactly the same technique as the fence only using a rock if that’s all you have close to you. You might find you need to kneel down with this one, but the principle is exactly the same.
While on the subject of kneeling down, this can reduce tension in the body and therefore relieve any shaking.
This is purely and simply taking the kneeling idea one step further. Why Kneel if you can sit? Seriously, it does help relieve shaking binoculars if you’re sitting down.
This works really well for stargazers, by lying either on the ground or in a horizontal reclining chair and resting the binoculars against your face you will relieve any shaking.
Lean On Something Solid
If most of your body weight is being supported by a solid object, you will have more available strength to keep the binoculars still. Use anything you can find including;
- Sides Of Buildings
You’ll need to use your imagination and use whatever support you can find. Once you’re leaning against your selected support, practise a good holding technique to minimise any shake.
Relax Your Grip
Of course you need to hold the binoculars with enough grip that they don’t fall from your hands. But if you grip them too tightly, you can actually introduce a shake due to your hands and arms being under tension.
Try The Two Fingered Hold
Instead of using the whole of both hands to grip the binoculars, just use your thumb and index finger. This not only relaxes your grip, but also causes you to physically hold less tightly.
Use The Strap
Place the binocular strap around your neck, put your arms inside the strap loop and hold the binoculars as you would normally, now push your elbows out. The strap takes much of the pressure and causes you to fatigue less.
If You Want To Get Ahead, Get A Hat
Wear a baseball cap or something similar with a strong peak, hold the binoculars to your eyes and with one or two fingers grap the peak of the cap. This now becomes part of the support of the binoculars helping to prevent the shake.
Use A Stick
Hold your binoculars in the normal way and place a stick under one lens tube, you have now effectively become part of a human tripod.
Use A Broom
This works in a similar way to the stick and is handy for use at home in your garden. Use a soft bristled broom with a long handle turned upside down. The bristles should be at the top, but facing away from your face. The broom handle becomes your third leg as in a tripod and the bristles work as a makeshift mount for your binoculars.
Invest In A Tripod
If all else fails, it might be time to buy a tripod. Choose one large enough and strong enough for your needs. Remember the larger the objective lens diameter, the heavier the binoculars will be. If you do decide to get a tripod, you could also invest in more powerful binoculars too, because once supported by the tripod there will be no arm tremor, so no shaking image either.
Use A Chest Harness – Binopod
This is a relatively new idea which consists of a harness that straps to your chest and neck and then the two metal rods connect to the front of your binoculars and rest against the harness. As your arms aren’t needed at all, they will not get tired. But your body can get tired faster wearing this sort of harness, which can be counteracted by using a tree etc as a support.
Use A Monopod
This is just a collapsible pole that attaches to the base of the binoculars. At the other end are three small feet that provide some stability at the base. You still need to hold the binoculars or the monopod to support them as it is only a single pole, but you don’t need to exert so much pressure.
Use Lower Powered Binoculars
We always recommend 10x as the highest power binoculars for hand held usage. Because anything above 10x can exaggerate that natural tremor, but for some people, 10x is too strong. Try 8x or even 7x you’ll still see images 7 or 8 times larger through the lens than with the naked eye respectively but with less chance of that annoying shake.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can hand hold 12x binoculars but that extra magnification can exaggerate any natural tremor you have, making the image appear blurry.
To make binoculars steady you need to hold them lightly with both hands. Using just the thumb and index finger to hold them whilst resting the thumb and index finger against your face for support.
One way is to use any natural support you have around you like a fence, wall, tree etc to lean against. By making yourself more steady your binoculars will not shake as much.
The key to stopping your binoculars from shaking is to keep your posture solid. Then grip the binoculars lightly while tucking in your elbows.
Depending on your physiology 10x binoculars can be shaky, if this is so, use a support or tripod or buy lower powered binoculars.