Ensuring proper mounting of the camera

Among the various camera accessories the tripod is one of the most essential accessories for obtaining the best picture quality. Years before, when I was taking my shots without a camera tripod, the picture used to be miserable many times. I was convinced that using the tripod is the only way to protect photography from shaking. The tripod and the camera slider are the two accessories that are essential to ensure the picture quality in photography. In photography there is no substitution for a strong tripod. It is very important to mount the camera on a tripod for all types of shooting. By way of leveling the camera and adjusting its position I was able to achieve tremendous improvement in the quality of photography. I further understood that the tripod is quite necessary for all types of photography – landscape, architectural, environmental portraits, still images, close ups, etc. For slow shutter speeds, long exposures and for macro photography also tripod is quite essential. Tripod helps composition also. Just by leveling the camera and making a few adjustments for proper positioning tripod brings great difference in the quality of the final outcome.

However, just having a cheap quality tripod is not sufficient to get the best results. It must be a strong and stable tripod. The tripod should be well built and must have the capacity to carry the heavy camera that is fitted with a telephoto lens. The ideal tripod will weigh approximately 2 kg and must b able to support a minimum load of 5kg.

The tripod kit

When I bought the tripod kit I could save a considerable amount of money. Moreover, I was able to choose the legs and heads of the tripod thereby ensuring a perfect combination. The material of the tripod is also an important aspect to consider. The aluminium tripod is considered as the best quality tripod. The camera tripod that is made of aluminium is rigid as well as hard. Though carbon fiber tripods are also equally good they are quite expensive.

Features of a tripod

The mounting platform of the tripod has a diameter in the range 50 – 60 mm. The tripod will have stability when the diameter of the mounting platform matches with that of the head base. The multi angle legs of the camera tripod enable low level shooting as well as shooting on tricky terrain. Pivoting centre column is a new feature of the advanced type of tripod. It can be locked at ay position. The legs of the tripod are made from three different sections. As a result it can fold down making it more compact. The clip locks for the legs function quicker than the twist locks. The rubber pads that are provided for the feet are good for all conditions. In order to make the equipment more secure the platform of the tripod is provided with grub screws which can be tightened to lock the head.

Different types of camera tripod are now available in the market. Though tripod is a simple equipment, selection of the best type of tripod is a challenging task.

Tips for buying a tripod

When I decided to buy a camera tripod for the first time my friend asked me,”why do you require a tripod?” My immediate answer was that the purposes of a tripod are
• Keep the heavy camera and telephoto lens
• Improve the sharpness and depth o the images
• Shoot close ups and macro objects
• Shoot at difficult angles
• Shoot video without vibration

The tripod system

Generally, tripod has four parts – legs, head, center column and feet. The legs of the camera tripod are made of aluminium, steel or carbon fiber. The head of the tripod will hold the camera or the lens. The common types of heads are ball-head and pan-tilt head. The center column of the tripod is actually a separate leg through the middle portion that allows to raise the head of the tripod further. The advanced type of tripod is provided with two types of feet at the end of the length – indoor feet and outdoor feet.

How to choose a tripod?

Before choosing my tripod I made it a point to work out how much weight it should support. Photographers should not make a wrong choice of the camera tripod. The tripod that they buy must be able to support a DSLR camera. In case the tripod is not strong enough and if it collapses, the DSLR, the lens and the tripod are destroyed. One should bear in mind that in addition to the weight of the camera and the lens the tripod has to withstand the pressure applied by the photographer on his camera, weight of the battery of the camera, etc. I wanted my tripod to match my height so that I need not bend down while using it. Since the tripod legs are adjustable, in case it goes above the eye-level of the user, it can be adjusted. I wanted to ensure that the head of the tripod will be on level with my jaw. The tripod when folded must be easy to carry.

Another important aspect is the weight of the tripod. I wanted to take my tripod out whenever required. Hence, I never wanted a heavy tripod. The tripod made of carbon fiber is light, durable, stable and will not rust. But, the disadvantage is that it is highly expensive. Though aluminium is heavier than carbon fiber, it is cheaper. Tripods made of stainless steel are too heavy and they are mainly for video.

While choosing a tripod, one should ensure that the total weight must be below 5 pounds. The common characteristics of tripod are size, collapsed size, load capacity, head type, feet, leg locks and common material. Those who know well about each characteristic will find it easy to choose the best camera tripod for them. One should not confuse weight of the tripod with maximum load capacity. The maximum load capacity is the heaviest load that it can support whereas weight is purely the weight of the equipment. Common material will be either aluminium or carbon fiber or stainless steel.

The world of tripods

I am a professional photographer and my camera tripod is an important component of my photography system. The tripod ensures stable support to the camera and enables the user to shoot with a slower shutter speed that will not be possible when the camera is handheld.

Why I wanted slow shutter speed?

When shooting is done in dim light the amount of light is not sufficient to provide high shutter speed. Also, when I am using a small aperture, the shutter speed will be lower. Moreover, when shooting at close-up, the camera is to be stabilized to minimize the shake.

Travel tripods

Camera tripods are basically unsuitable to traveling photographers because of their weight and larger size. It will be difficult for them to carry them along with their luggage. However, specially made tripods are now available for the travelling photographers. They are made light weight so that the users can carry them conveniently during their travel. The travel tripods are sold in two separate parts – the head and the legs. Both these parts can be further broken down so as to make them easier to carry. Depending on the cost, tripod legs are made of different materials. They are made lightweight, rigid and flexible in order to make them suitable to the travelling photographers. The plastic tripod legs are light as well as inexpensive but, they may break easily. Aluminium is strong and rigid and not as heavy as stainless steel. The carbon fiber tripod legs are light, strong and rigid. They are the best option for travelling photographers. However, they are very expensive.

Different types of tripods

Basically there are five types of tripods – table top, portable, pocket, medium duty and sturdy duty. Table top tripods are used where the camera can be mounted on a flat surface other than ground. They are compact as well as light and are ideal for travelling photographers. They are generally used for group shots, travel photography, self-portraits and close-up photography. The travel tripods will collapse so as to carry easily. They are ideal for hiking, biking and casual stroll. They can be taken in airline carry-on luggage also since they collapse down to 22 inches or even shorter. These tripods are ideal for nature, travel, sports and amateur video. Pocket tripods are less than 6 inches in length and can be kept inside a bag or waist-pack. They are strong enough to hold a compact digital camera. These tripods are mainly used for self-portraits, group shots and party pictures. The medium duty tripods are used for nature photography, portable portrait set-ups and for studios. They are also ideal for video cameras. Sturdy duty tripods are used by the professional photographers who usually buy specific type of tripod for specific purpose. These tripods are very big and some of them are immovable. These camera tripods are ideal for studios, advertising, etc,
The tripods enable shooting of available-light scenes without flash. They also enable shooting of fireworks, seamless panoramas, shots of stars and moon and a lot of other situations that require long exposures.