"Shooting" -- pistol triggers and shutter buttons

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by oldracer, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Apologies in advance; this is going to sound a bit like a lecture but I am hoping it will help at least a few people.

    In a thread a few days ago, someone stated that image stabilization for camera rotation was important because their camera rotated "with the pressing of the shutter button." IMO this is not a stabilization problem. It is a technique problem.

    Long story short, about ten years ago I spent a lot of time and money trying to get good at bullseye pistol shooting. I never really succeeded but tens of thousands of practice and match shots did teach me how to pull a pistol trigger. I release my camera shutters the same way.

    Here is what the Army Marksmanship Unit manual (Encyclopedia of Bullseye Pistol) says:


    1. Positive Uninterrupted Trigger Pressure - Surprise shot method - is primarily the act of completing the firing of the shot once starting the application of trigger pressure. The shooter is committed to an unchanging rate of pressure, no speed up, no slowdown or stopping. The trigger pressure is of an uninterrupted nature because it is not applied initially unless conditions are settled and near perfect. If the perfect conditions deteriorate, the shooter should not fire, but bench the weapon, relax, re-plan, and start again.

    ... when the shooter has established stable minimum arc of movement and sight alignment, he must immediately begin to press on the trigger, smoothly but positively, and straight to the rear without stopping, until a shot is produced. This method of controlling the trigger action will give the shooter a surprise break of the shot before any muscular reflex can disturb sight alignment.

    The key words here are "pressure" and "surprise." I start a shot withe the shutter button half-pushed. When I mentally commit to a shot I simply start to apply pressure, never knowing exactly when the shutter will trip. Since my finger isn't moving, I am not transmitting motion into the camera body either. My finger never intentionally "bottoms" the shutter button. The whole process takes maybe 1 to 3 seconds, during which I also hold my breath.

    In fact, an interesting thing happens fairly often with my current GX7s: I will get two shots. The shutter button doesn't move when my pressure triggers the shutter and something in the camera design often causes a second shot to fire. Maybe the shutter shock is enough to do this. I don't know.

    Probably many people do this already, not ever having handled a target pistol, but there it is. A little technique suggestion that will hopefully help someone to have a more stable camera.
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  2. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I have been shooting rifles since I was 8 and went thru sniper training while in the Navy. I shoot my camera exactly as I do a rifle, that includes everything from my stance, how I hold it, tricks to getting more stable, breathing, to how I press the shutter button. It's also why I can't comprehend it when people say they have a hard time finding a bird when using a super telephoto prime, for me it's as natural as putting on my shoes.
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  3. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Absolutely agree. I wanted to keep the post simple and one-topic but you are right; most photographers could learn a lot from studying rifle shooting positions too. When I am shooting in broad daylight and fast shutter speeds I still look around for something to lean against for stability. I'll take whatever IS gives me, but my fundamental belief is that there is no such thing as a camera that is too stable.

    Now if I could just find those damned birds in the brush when my 100-300 is zoomed all the way long. Any tips?
  4. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Only advise I can give is sit in your backyard and practice practice practice. Because I basically learned (shooting a scoped rifle but basically the same thing) when I was 8-10 it just became natural and I don't really remember how I learned other then running around the woods shooting anything and everything. Guess it was just practicing over and over.
  5. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    When my grandfather taught me how to shoot he taught me a couple of very worthwhile things (right handed shooter)

    - 70% of the gripping power should be form the left hand, 30% from the trigger hand. Since you don’t have as much pressure from the right hand gripping the gun it makes it easy to keep an independent and steady pressure on the trigger with your forefinger.

    - We have an innate and natural ability to accurately point things out. Hold your right hand with your thumb and forefinger like they are a pistol, pick you subject/target and point. If you notice your figure is right on the subject/target!

    These translate well to photography. Most of your gripping power from your left hand and then with the camera/lens as extension of your right hand pistol – pick your subject/target and point. With a little bit of practice and eye/hand coordination – you’ll find in short order you can point right on target. For those that it takes a little longer, I have them hold the camera out further and use live view, and also use the camera body and lens like there are sights on top similar to a gun with open sights.
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  6. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Same when I see posts from people claiming some large lens won't work well on a certain body because the setup will be unbalanced. I say regardless if the lens is giant and the camera is tiny, if it is unbalanced then you are simply holding it wrong. Like your rifle, most/all the balance should be on your left hand holding the camera & lens. And almost none should be on your "trigger" hand. In fact, if you are holding it properly you can simply drop your shutter hand and the camera setup shouldn't really change position at all (no sudden tilting up or down, etc.). When your "trigger" hand isn't being depended on to maintain position, you can now also "fire" off your shot without that hand upsetting the balance.
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  7. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010

    I was taught many years ago that my left hand supports the camera, elbow tight against my body, and my right hand has no role except to trip the shutter.

    I have found following that rule to be harder with these small cameras and lenses than it was with the big film Nikons, but the principle is still sound. I, too, laugh at the posts where someone is talking about an "unbalanced" lens/body combination.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
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  8. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    At the super telephoto range I find the smaller and lighter to make it harder to get sharp handheld shots. When using my Olympus 75-300 I have to really concentrate on my technique where as with my 150/2 and EC-20 I have a much easier time. When you get super light like the 75-300, the smallest movement (like breathing) can move the camera where a heavier setup takes more force to actually move.
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