People always ask us why we use these when most cameras now have great tools for keeping the camera level. We have been using them for many years attached to our hot-shoe and although initially, we used them only when the camera was mounted on a tripod we have found them to be very useful in other situations. There are many different models and can be found on eBay, Amazon or at your local camera shop.
Here are a couple of reasons why this cheap little gadget should be in your camera bag –
- They are very handy when using the camera low to the ground. They will make it a lot easier to level the camera without “standing on your head”.
- They are extremely accurate. They also have multiple bubbles for confirming accuracy.
- Designed for horizontal & vertical shooting.
- If your camera doesn’t have a built-in spirit level and you do a lot of tripod work.
However, where this gadget is absolutely invaluable is that it gives you the ability to shoot at waist/stomach level. This is crucial at times in Travel Photography. During your travels, you will visit places such as churches that don’t allow photography. This is generally due to people using flashes. In these instances, if it’s ethically viable, taking a shot with this gadget can help, here are some steps to consider before taking the shot;
- Make sure that your flash is turned off before entering a place where flash photography is not allowed (check your camera manual if you are unsure how to do this)
- Turn off the AF assist illuminator function in your camera, (the red or white beam which assists your camera to focus in low light) as this light is a real giveaway that you’re taking a photograph.
- Attach the Spirit Level to your hot-shoe
- Increase your ISO so that you can handhold the camera as tripods will obviously not be allowed either. Even though you will be taking photos from stomach/waist level still try to attain a shutter speed as though you were hand-holding the camera.
- If your camera has a Quiet Mode available then use it.
- Be discreet and don’t get caught 🙂
Unfortunately, we live in a photography world where the majority of people don’t know how to turn off the flash on their camera. So many places like historic churches, museums, galleries etc will not let you take photos simply to protect their artwork from thousands of camera flashes every day. This is particularly the case in many cities in Europe where there are many churches and galleries with valuable art.
When not to use this method? Well, you really shouldn’t use this method if –
- You plan to use the images commercially.
- When the location you are shooting has a contract with a photographer.
- During religious ceremonies where it would be disrespectful.
- After being caught by an attendant it would be fairly rude to keep doing it.
- Near military installations, government buildings, and other sensitive areas. Always research and be aware of the photography restrictions and regulations of the countries that you are visiting. Being thrown in prison is a sure way of ruining a holiday or a photography assignment.
If you want to purchase one click here.
Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know where this item has been useful for you when shooting.
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