No Tripod? No Problem! Use Burst Mode

Situational experience can be one of the best learning grounds on the planet. One problem that plagues digital camera owners is marginal light situations. We’ve all been in situations where the light is low enough that we know very well the best answer would be to use a tripod. But you guessed it, tripod’s in the car, or if you’re like me it’s at home sitting in the closet. I know, everyone proclaims the tripod is your best friend and is the best tool for low light situations.

burst mode or tripod

“the hunter” captured by phantom (Click Image to See More From phantom)

Anyway… it’s no secret, I hate tripods. It’s not so much that I hate tripods, I just don’t like dragging them around, setting them up, attaching the camera, you know the drill. So I lean on technology to solve the problem.

Digital cameras with image stabilization, (true image stabilization, not ISO pumping) are wonderful, and they allow me to shoot in situations that cameras without stabilization would not. So when I shop for a new camera whether it’s a point-and-shoot or DSLR, image stabilization and picture quality are the first two items on my list. It’s just more fun knowing you can take your camera into situations where other cameras will need to fire their flash or be mounted on a tripod.

Here’s a trick I ran across about a year ago when trying to take photos in a museum. As they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” As I walked into the museum, the first thing I saw was a huge sign indicating “No Flash.” Great, now what? I knew the camera I was packing was simply not going to be able to pull it off. I knew then and there ALL my pictures were going to be blurry, so why bother?

burst mode camera setting

Photo captured by Sohail Nakhooda (Click Image to See More From Sohail Nakhooda)

Have you ever sat there and thought, “I paid how much for this piece of technology, and now it’s about as useful a rock. If only it was image stabilized, I would at least have a chance of getting some decent photos”?

So as I sat there staring at my point-and-shoot digital camera feeling sorry for myself, it came to me. I knew if I tried to hand hold the pictures in this subdued museum lighting, at best, I was going to end up with 100 percent crummy looking photos.

Wait just a minute…

I know of a way that would allow me to hand hold the camera AND end up with at least some decent images.

Using Burst Mode on Your Digital Camera

Here’s how it works. We all know that when you try and take a photograph in low light your worst enemy is camera movement. I don’t care if you try to not breath and press the shutter slowly as you fire off a shot, your photo will probably be blurry. By setting your camera to burst mode you’re now taking 3-5 photos in a very short time frame. Come on! At least one of them is bound to be fired when you’re not moving. If nothing else, you put the odds in your favor.

It worked! Of course I fired off a gazillion photos to get a bunch that were sharp, but who cares? That’s what digital camera do best. Take LOTS of pictures and when the dust settles you can pick the ones that you like and delete the rest.


“Manhattan Skyline” captured by William Doyle (Click Image to See More from William Doyle)

Now, I use this little burst mode trick even with my cameras that have image stabilization. Unless it’s almost pitch black I don’t even think about the tripod anymore. A lot of good it would do me anyway; it’s still sitting in my closet at home.

Technology to the rescue!

About the Author:
Michael Huddleston from

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4 responses to “No Tripod? No Problem! Use Burst Mode”

  1. Mei Teng says:

    I have been shooting alot lately with my tripod (and experimenting with long exposures) so much so that the thought of shooting without one in low light situations is almost not feasible. I still prefer shooting with a tripod whenever possible.

  2. Sarosa says:

    Shake your hands Michael, I also don’t like trypods. Great tip, which I will be using soon, as I am heading to shoot at a music festival (no flash too). Thank you very much!

  3. I use a mono pod all the time in low light situations. much easier to handle than a tripod

  4. Paul says:

    A useful tip. Some of us aren’t landscape photographers and do not require 100% sharpness all the time anyway. :)

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