Just a quick posting and a few random thoughts about tripods. One of the great things about being a photographer today is a ton of information on the web, and tripods are no exception. I wanted to share a couple useful postings about them.
There is an expression that says: “the easiest way to improve your photography is to use a tripod.” All photographers know this, and most ignore it, myself included. Is there any truth to this expression? Yes, the tripod will stabilize your camera, but the other major benefit is that it forces you to slow down and pay attention to your composition. So those are pluses, and there are many times that the only way to capture some images is by using a tripod.
Selecting a Tripod
So yes, if you are going to be serious about your photography, sooner or later you are going to need to purchase a tripod. I'm really resisting going completely tech on this subject, so I am going to just refer you to an article written by Thom Hogan. Although it is getting a little dated, it is pretty much the definitive article on tripods, and there is a lot of wisdom there. I read this years ago and didn't pay attention to it, so I am going to give you the same opportunity:
No, not every shot needs to be taken from a tripod; this is not practical or realistic. In many places, use of a tripod is not allowed. This is where the improvements in high ISO levels becomes very useful. A problem a lot of people have when using a tripod is that people will set up their tripod and never move it again. Normally before setting up my tripod, I will use the viewfinder in my camera and handhold it until I find the composition that I like, then I will set up my tripod. Don’t be afraid to move your tripod once you have it set up and try different compositions.
Sooner or later you are going to have to clean your tripod. You really need to do this if you have been operating in mud or salt water. Luckily this is nowhere nearly as stressful as cleaning your camera's sensor.
Jay & Varina Patel have a great video on how to do this:
“Buy a good tripod once, and it’s the last tripod you’ll ever need.” Obviously I am not adhering to this expression, and no one tripod can do everything. The larger tripod I try to use the most, but it is not practical when my trip involves getting on and off airplanes. In that case, I take the smaller tripod and put it in my check bag. Monopods tend to be more specialized and are sometimes allowed where tripods are not. Monopods are very useful when using longer glass and a lot of movement is required.
I hope you found this interesting. Please feel free to leave any thoughts, questions or comments that you might have.