Cameras with inbuilt image stabilizers are increasing effective, but for optimum stability and noise prevention one needs a good tripod. My first tripod cost me thirty dollars. Needless to say, it was secondhand and fell apart during its second run. I later opted for a sturdier, more expensive tripod and have never had to replace it. Recently, however, I have researched a few varieties of tripod on the market and there is a lot more out there than simply a stand with three legs.
Although tripods vary in compatibility, it is better to have a terrible tripod than no tripod at all! The fact of the matter is if you want the best image quality, you always need a tripod, and if you’re heading outdoors with large lenses: tripods are on the necessary checklist before setting out. There is nothing worse than climbing a mountain with two camera bags of equipment, a day pack and an incredibly heavy tripod attached to your back, but unfortunately this is sometimes unavoidable unless you have a crew of people that are either paid to join you on your expedition or willing to help. Truth be told, there is nothing to like about tripods aside from what they do to stabilize your equipment and sharpen your image quality. Looking at the range of tripods on the market there does seem to be a few defining factors that will make your life a lot easier as a photographer, but inevitably all solutions will cost you more than thirty dollars.
Cheap tripod nightmare
Although a tripod simply looks like a three-legged stand, there are a few things to look out for. I have found that the biggest problem with cheap tripods is that the head cannot sustain the weight of a medium-bodied SLR camera. The camera may sag once you have tightened the tripod head to the camera base. This can worsen when you attempt to take portrait shots and you are left holding up one side of the camera to take a level shot. It’s a complete nightmare. The other problem is that the legs don’t tighten or that they slip when you are tinkering with the camera. Legs may be difficult to adjust, and therefore move.
Material and weight
Most photographers are looking for a light but sturdy tripod. This is a little tricky. I know some professionals who opt for two tripods; one secure and heavy beast, the other cheap and flimsy. The light tripod can easily be attached to a camera bag and carried around and the larger tripod can be used occasionally or in the studio.
Most tripods are made from aluminum because the material is cheap and sturdy; others are made from carbon-fiber and even wood. Carbon fiber weighs less than aluminum but is more expensive. Wood is less expensive but much heavier and therefore not as popular. Some more expensive tripod models will attempt to keep the sturdiness and security of the tripod and cut down on the overall carrying weight. If you have an expensive camera, consider how much it weighs and what the tripod will have to hold securely. Hakuba’s carbon fiber HG-503MX is a lighter alternative to others on the market, weighing 5.5 pounds. It is 17 inches and can easily be attached to a camera bag. It is designed to support SLRs that weigh up to 25 lbs. Gitzo has a mountaineering range that is worth a look at.
Leg-set and Design Flexibility
Although at first it would seem that height would be a priority, it isn’t. It is best to buy a tripod that has a desirable base height without extending it to its maximum. The more you extend the device the less stable it may be. Look out for a twist lock system that will secure the legs to the required adjustment
s. Also, some tripods may come with a split center column that will enable photographers to take photographs at low angles.
Some tripod heads have a wider range of possible positions that you can work with. The Silk Pro 814 CF-II Carbon Fiber Tripod has a reversible head in addition to three-way pan tilt. This allows you to take photographs with the lens just a few inches from the ground. A ball socket head is more compact and easier to handle than a pan head, and many tripods on the market opt for a ball head design. However, the ball head is generally more expensive than the pan head. Although the ball head is easier to handle, the pan head model will have a higher load capacity. Whatever head you buy, it is important to think about the weight of both the camera you wish to use and any large lenses you have. Add up the weight and think about how much the tripod is designed to support. Make sure that the tripod head you buy has a fast release function, allowing you to easily move the camera or switch cameras. When you have decided on the tripod design you like, it is also a good idea to buy extra mounting plates to accommodate different lenses.
As with most photography equipment, tripods are expensive. And, unfortunately, you get what you pay for. If you have expensive lenses and heavy cameras it would be pointless to risk everything and buy an unsteady tripod. Expect to pay between $ 200 and $ 2000 for a tripod that will suit your requirements.