Whether you are a professional or an avid photographer, knowing what to look for when buying a tripod is crucial.
Most of the time, a tripod can make the difference between a blurry and a crisp image – you know, the type that receives the awards.
Essentially, a tripod is a three-legged camera mounting device that makes it easier to take high quality pictures and avoid blurry or blurry pictures. With a tripod, we can also play with techniques like longer exposure. It is your passport to experiment with different photo techniques.
How do you get the best tripod? What about the price-performance ratio? Do you need special functions? Are the materials used in the construction of the tripod important?
We will provide the answers to many of these questions in this article. Maybe this is not your first purchase. In this case, tips and tricks for upgrading your tripod equipment are discussed. Finally, expect what types of tripods and features to consider when purchasing.
Types of tripods
It is important to understand that there are different types of tripods for different needs. There are cameras that are designed for shooting in low light, and vice versa, there are others that are better suited for action photography. The same applies to tripods. Here are some of the most common types of tripods:
1. All in one
As a rule, all-in-one tripods are portable and usually quite affordable. They are usually delivered with legs upright and head attached. Simply put, you can’t disassemble it. They’re great if you are starting out and don’t want to spend too much just to get started.
2nd Travel tripods
Buying this type of tripod signals the need for portability versus functionality. Travel tripods are relatively small and can easily be stowed in a bag.
3rd Studio tripods
As you probably suspected, studio models are often heavy, robust and stable. In terms of functionality, this is the best tripod type. However, the size of these can be challenging. Weight is a feature to look out for when buying a tripod.
They are only about 4 to 8 inches high and are best for quick pictures. Many photographers use them for self-portraits or when traveling. Some pocket tripods even have legs that can wrap around objects so you can secure your camera in various creative positions. The GorillaPod is a good example.
This type of tripod has only one standing leg, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a stable solution. For nature photographers who are wondering how to buy a tripod, start your selection process here. They are perfect for use with a telephoto lens and are a good compromise between sufficient support and portability. Monopods are also great for action and sports shooters.
Which tripod material should I get?
Tripods can be made from different materials, each with unique selling points.
- Aluminum: Relatively cheap and ideal for beginners.
- Basalt fiber: durable and affordable, but more expensive than aluminum.
- Carbon fiber: durable, portable and usable in all weather conditions.
Many photographers prefer a carbon fiber tripod. However, it can be more expensive compared to other tripod types.
If the budget is not a problem for you, it shouldn’t play a critical role when buying a tripod. Instead, we recommend photographers to focus on features and functions. If budget is actually a problem, there are some great aluminum tripods on the market today.
The standard functions and general functions of a tripod include:
- Leg construction and adjustability
- Minimum and maximum height
- Available tripod heads
- Clamping lever
- Spirit level
Okay, let’s think about what these mean.
What to look for when buying a tripod
Use this checklist to make an informed decision before adding a device to your cart.
1. Tripod height
It’s best to buy a tripod with adjustable legs. However, always pay attention to your height and the height of the legs. You probably don’t want to have to grind to look into the viewfinder.
For tripods with attached mounting heads, the tip should rest against the chin line. With a removable model, the tip should be at shoulder height.
2nd Weight rating
This is the maximum weight that a tripod can carry. Before you buy a tripod, you need to know what the maximum weight can be – this could be your heaviest camera body attached to your heaviest telephoto lens with a set of filters.
Then buy a tripod that can hold 1.5 to 2 times this weight. This gives you some leeway for the weight of your hands or other accessories such as a flash, batteries, etc.
3rd Essential tripod functions
A tripod consists of several parts, here are some of the basic ones:
- Center column: Helps with the height adjustment. Can make the tripod less stable when fully extended.
- Leg locks: A twist grip mechanism looks neat and is easier to use. On the other hand, a spring load system is more durable.
- Independent legs: With this function tripod legs can be adjusted in 2 or 3 different angles.
- Leg design: Pipe constructions offer the highest stability.
4th Tripod head
This is the most critical component of a tripod setup (after the tripod itself, of course). Its main function is to control camera movement, angle and movement. There are three types of tripod heads.
- Pan-tilt head: Has a single handle for horizontal camera movement. More expensive models offer control over vertical and horizontal movements.
- Ball head: Very flexible. It has controls for loosening or tightening the camera grip. The camera can be placed at almost any angle.
- Gimbal head: Best for heavy lenses and time-lapse or video photography. It also enables camera movement in almost all directions.
When buying a tripod, the weight does not necessarily mean absolute stability. Instead, ask the seller about the device’s ability to withstand external forces such as wind.
After all, even the most stable tripod out there won’t eliminate all possible blurring if you shoot light trails on a wobbly bridge on a windy evening.
Buying a tripod is easier if you better understand your own needs, set a budget, and stick to it. Buying a new tripod doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Good luck finding your next (or first) tripod!