How to Select and Use a Tripod

A tripod is without doubt one of the most important—and sometimes overlooked—items of pictures gear. Here’s what you must know to get probably the most out of 1.


Why You Want a Tripod

A tripod helps and stabilizes your digital camera. With out one, it’s virtually unimaginable to do issues like:

  • Take photographs with a shutter velocity longer than a fraction of a second with out having every thing be a blurry mess.
  • Simply take self portraits and group photographs that embrace you.
  • Preserve your digital camera locked down in the identical place so you’ll be able to take HDR photographs or composite pictures (the place you mix a number of photographs right into a single picture).
  • Use an extended telephoto lens for prolonged durations of time with out huge quantities of again ache, shoulder ache, and emotional ache.
  • Make timelapse movies.

Get the Proper Tripod For Your Wants

There are a whole lot of various tripods on the market that value something from $20 all the best way as much as properly over $1000. It’s necessary to purchase a tripod that matches your wants.

Tripods are available two predominant supplies: aluminium and carbon fiber. Aluminium is cheaper however heavier, whereas carbon fiber is lighter and dearer. Numerous producers make in any other case an identical tripods in each supplies.

There are two components to any tripod: the tripod legs and the tripod head. The legs assist the digital camera, whereas the top is the place you attaches the digital camera. Completely different heads let you place the digital camera in numerous methods. Low cost tripods could mix the 2, however principally, you’ll be capable to purchase the identical tripod with a few totally different interchangeable heads.

There are a great deal of totally different kinds of tripod head, however an important ones are:

  • Ball heads: A ball head is the most cost effective and most typical tripod head for pictures. They’re very versatile and allow you to place your digital camera just about anyway you would need.
  • Pan and tilt heads: A pan and tilt head locks your digital camera to 2 axes which are managed independently. You may pan the digital camera facet to facet with out affecting its tilt, or tilt the digital camera up and down with out by chance panning it. This makes it simpler to make small changes and take panoramic photographs. They’re additionally higher for video than ball heads.
  • Gimbal heads: A gimbal head helps heavy digital camera setups whereas nonetheless permitting you to maneuver it shortly as if you’re hand holding it. They’re primarily for wildlife and sports activities photographers, fairly than individuals who wish to lock their digital camera in a steady place.

What tripod setup you must get is determined by your precise wants. In case you simply want one thing to carry your digital camera for household portraits, the most cost effective factor you should buy with three legs will work. It solely wants to carry your digital camera regular for a fraction of a second.

Then again, if you need the tripod to carry your digital camera regular for a 30 second exposure—or a six hour timelapse—then you must put money into one thing much more steady. With tripods, you get what you pay for.

Personally, I exploit an aluminium Vanguard Alta Professional with a ballhead. At $169, it’s reasonably priced whereas nonetheless being steady sufficient to assist a heavy digital camera arrange for lengthy exposures and timelapses. The one draw back is that it’s a bit large and heavy to journey with.

The best way to Set Up Your Tripod So It’s as Secure as Attainable

Each tripod comes with nested segmented legs that reach so you’ll be able to collapse your tripod down for travelling whereas nonetheless having the ability to get an affordable quantity of peak whenever you want it. The issue is that the additional you lengthen your tripod, the much less steady it will get. This implies you must by no means lengthen your tripod greater than is critical to get the shot you need. It’s higher to need to bend over or kneel down and have your digital camera steady at waist stage than to have it unstable at eye stage.

When you’re extending your tripod, begin with the thicker leg sections first since they’re probably the most steady. These are usually the highest sections. After, work down by means of the 2 or three thinner leg sections utilizing as few as attainable.

Take into consideration what floor you’re placing your tripod on, too. If it’s one thing unfastened like sand, snow, or gravel, then there’s probability the tripod may shift. In case you can, place it on one thing firmer; if not, push and rock your tripod down firmly in order that something that’s prone to shift, like pebbles, have already got performed earlier than you begin taking footage. There’s nothing worse than your tripod shifting an hour right into a timelapse.

In case your tripod has a middle column, you must solely lengthen it as a final resort whenever you completely want the additional peak. It’s the least steady part of a tripod.

Numerous tripods include a hook beneath their centre column. That is so you’ll be able to grasp your digital camera bag—or higher but, a plastic bag crammed with rocks—from the tripod to essentially maintain it in place and cease the wind from affecting it. In case your digital camera tripod has one, at all times use that hook if you’re taking an extended publicity shot or timelapse.

Use a Spirit or Digital Degree for Flat Horizons

It’s virtually unimaginable to place a digital camera in order that it’s completely stage and not using a spirit stage (or a digital equal). This isn’t as necessary for pictures when you’ve bought a bit extra flexibility to repair uneven horizons in submit, however it’s important for video work.

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Many tripod heads have a spirit stage inbuilt. There’s probability your digital camera additionally has a digital stage you should utilize. In case you don’t have both, decide up one thing like this small $7 spirit stage and use it to get your digital camera completely stage.

Cease the Digital camera Shifting Whereas You Take Photographs

Once you take an image, there’s really lots of motion taking place within the digital camera. You simply don’t discover it as a result of you’re transferring a complete lot extra. Along with your digital camera on a steady tripod, nevertheless, that little little bit of motion can have an effect on your images—particularly lengthy publicity pictures.

Don’t simply press the shutter button to take a picture. Both get a digital camera distant or use the 2 second timer that’s inbuilt to each DSLR. Which means you can’t introduce any motion whereas snapping your shot.

Once you take a picture with a DSLR, the mirror inside snaps up actually shortly. This will additionally add some shake. To cease it, you’ll be able to allow mirror lock up mode (in case your digital camera helps it). The easier choice although, is simply to shoot utilizing reside view; the mirror is at all times locked up then.

Though it would sound counterintuitive, in case your lens has picture stabilization, you must flip it off when you’re utilizing a tripod. Picture stabilization works by having components contained in the lens that may transfer a number of millimeters. This works nice if you’re holding your digital camera in your arms, but when you’ve bought it locked down on a tripod, the small quantities of motion from the stabilization system can really make every photograph barely totally different.


A tripod is an important little bit of package for lots of various sorts of pictures. There’s a motive panorama photographers are ready to lug them for miles to get the shot.

Picture Credit: ShareGrid and Andrey Emelianov by way of Unsplash.

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