Digital Camera Tripods

Digital Camera Tripods: How to Pick the Best One

Digital Camera TripodsTripods are one of the best assets a professional photographer has, especially in situations where low lighting requires an extended exposure that could result in blurry photos and other negative effects. Tripods, though, can be one of the toughest things for the average professional photographer to buy. That’s because they come in a wide variety of heights, weights, and materials, each of which has its own unique benefits and disadvantages. And, like all major sectors of the photography market, there are high-quality and low-quality models that can either impress photographers or cause them a severe number of headaches.

Before deciding on any brand or tripod style, be sure to consider a few essential things beforehand. Even if a brand has a great reputation and is used by others in the industry, it might not be the best option for a specific use. With careful shopping and hands-on testing, the right tripod will be much easier to find and much more enjoyable to use for many years in the future.

1. The Tripod’s Weight Matters

The weight of a tripod seems to represent the largest internal conflict that most photographers deal with during a purchase. Most people want to go with a pretty light tripod, largely because they’ll be carrying it between locations where photos are being taken, and it can be a huge pain to carry a very weighty tripod all day long. No one wants to expend more energy than they absolutely need to, and this makes a pretty strong case for models made of lighter, thinner materials.

Conversely, however, lighter tripods are known to have some pretty major issues when it comes to supporting heavier digital SLR cameras with heavy lenses or additional flashes attached to the device. Their light construction makes them good for “light photography.” Anything beyond the basic camera setup will virtually require professional photographers to find a heavier, more durable model.

The best compromise might just be to own more than one tripod: A heavier model for shoots when a large lens or a flash is needed, and a lighter model for when those things aren’t required and photographers are looking to get a slightly lesser bicep workout.

2. Make Sure the Tripod Doesn’t Wobble or Rock

In tripod purchases and in other areas, most people have come to associate weight with stability and durability. That rule might be true more often than not, but it isn’t without exceptions. Be sure not to confuse a tripod’s weightier construction with greater durability after a camera has been attached. Sometimes, even the heaviest tripods on the market suffer from a lack of balance and stability that can negatively impact photos in all lighting environments.

The best way to discern whether or not a tripod is going to rock back and forth during photos is to find a retailer that allows its tripods to be tested prior to purchase. Attach a camera and see how the tripod performs. In some cases, it might even be a good idea to attach lenses and a flash to the camera in order to determine whether a heavier overall weight will change the tripod’s stability in a big way. Pick the model that stands tall, doesn’t move, and gives photos their best shot at a professional appearance with every push of the button.

3. Consider the Tripod’s Length During Transit

Digital camera tripods are designed to be pretty flexible in terms of height, but they do this in several different ways. Some tripods come with only two leg sections, though they’ll be able to shoot photos as high as ten feet in the air. That means the tripod’s length at its shortest is five feet. Carrying that tripod, no matter how light it is, is going to be a daunting task for any photographer or assistant who has to do it. By adding just one more leg section, the tripod’s maximum length during transit decreases to a much more manageable 3 feet in this case.

The number of leg sections definitely matters when choosing between digital camera tripods. Vehicles vary in size, and their space is limited. While it might be more convenient to only adjust one leg section when setting up, it might not be practical in terms of transporting the tripod via vehicle or via the help of an assistant. Compact is always better, and it’s generally worth the extra effort required when setting the tripod up for use.

4. Consider the Maximum Height Required of Photos

Just as important as the number of leg sections featured in digital camera tripods is the device’s maximum height. Photographers are often asked to take pictures in a diverse number of positions or styles, and that can necessitate pretty high camera positions. Buy the tripod that reaches the best height, while also offering the right number of leg sections and the right overall weight. Again, don’t shy away from considering multiple tripods for different heights or uses, as this will improve the quality of the pictures.

As a general rule, tripods intended for taking pictures of other people should be at least five feet tall. Beyond that, the tripod’s height will be up to the unique needs, preferences, and requirements, of each photographer’s job.

5. Pay Careful Attention to the Tripod Head

Tripod heads come in two main varieties. The first is the ball and socket head, which offers the maximum amount of flexibility when attaching and positioning the camera on the tripod. These tripod heads can be very complex to use, though, with plenty of things to be positioned, tightened, and rotated, to get the best picture. Pan and tilt heads are a bit more restrictive, but are easier to use and more common. Pick the option that fits best with most clients’ requirements the personal taste of those who will be taking the pictures.

A Great Tripod is the Key to Great Photography

The careful consideration of a tripod is one of the most important things a photographer can do when ensuring that their work will be professional and well received. With the right height, weight, tripod head, and other features, every picture will impress.

PhotographyVox Newsletter

If you want to learn more about photography as well as get the latest updates on new cameras and equipment, you need to subsribe to our newsletter. On a weekly basis, we're sharing select exclusive tips and tricks. For a limited time by signing up you'll also get our new ebook "The step by step guide to take better photographs instantly", FREE.

Leave a Comment

Skip to toolbar