Using Tripods – Five reasons why a camera tripod helps to produce better shots
Author: Gregory van Slyke
There is a huge range of camera tripods available for all kinds of different situations and scenarios.
No matter whether you’re framing up for a multi-shot panorama with a DSLR (digital SLR) to be stitched together later with a software editing program, capturing a natural sequence in time-lapse, shooting a video or you just want a sharp, crisp image, then you will need to be both precise and steady when you take the shot and the best way to achieve accuracy in photography is with a tripod.
Yes, tripods can be cumbersome and they can be a hassle but use of a tripod in certain circumstances has many benefits. Anchoring the camera or camcorder on a solid base, such as a tripod head, allows the photographer to concentrate on photo composition, a slow and steady press of the shutter and other aspects of the picture such as horizon lines, lighting, weather, surroundings and so on.
Awareness of factors outside the immediate control of the cameraman such as the strength and velocity of the wind, vibration of a railing that might otherwise have been used as a prop or support in lieu of a tripod and mitigation of these circumstances through use of a tripod will result in better images.
Conversely, trying to compensate without a tripod increases the risk of poor photographs. Shooting in low light, for example, requires a rock steady camera. With the shutter open longer, to let enough light through the lens, the risk of movement producing a blurry image is that much greater.
Selecting the right tripod is a task that requires taking into account a number of different and sometimes conflicting considerations. What kind of use will the tripod be put to? What kind of camera will the tripod support? What environments will the tripod be used in? What features should the tripod have?
The greatest numbers of cameras manufactured are relatively lightweight, weighing in at less than 3 lbs so don’t require an unwieldy platform to shoot from. In general then (and unless required for specialized work such as in a studio supporting a heavy-duty movie camera), a light weight, aluminum, three-legged, telescopic tripod, ideal for flexible use in most circumstances and easily transported or packed will satisfy most scenarios.
A tripod should also feature a quick release to easily separate camera from tripod, a fluid head for jerk free movement, lock control of horizontal and vertical head movement and an in-built level for level horizons in uneven ground.
If planning to use a tripod on a frequent basis then key to the decision-making process when purchasing a tripod should be durability, flexibility and quality of construction.
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About the Author
I’ve walked this earth for the last 56 years and started taking pics as a kid on a “Box Brownie” before migrating to a Kodak Instamatic 110. I moved up to 35mm with a Minolta 7 Series II in 1976 and eventually made it to SLR via the Canon T70 and some decent Tamron Telephoto and wide angle lenses in 1983. I recently moved into digital photography and just love the instant immediacy and myriad options that the new technology brings.
I specialize in landscape photography. Living in New Zealand (Godzone), I am blessed with many spectacular photo opportunities. These days my camera is almost always close at hand and I have been rewarded with some awesome results.
I have twice been the recipient of the Editor’s Choice Bronze Award from the International Library of Photography and have been involved for the last 10 years in my church video team where my responsibilities include cameraman, director, team manager.
A foray onto the Internet a couple of years ago led to the establishment of my first photography website (since sold) and I have a string of similar projects in train including a photography store-front,