How would you select a Tripod?
What is actually a tripod and why do you need it is the biggest question that you need to answer before you step out to get this new hardware. Is it actually worth the money, is it hyped up to have a tripod, is it doing what is it designed for, if you are all bogged up with such questions you have come to the right place to get yourself answers which would save you a buck and also make you spend wisely and not to regret afterwards.
So let’s start with what all you should look for when you go to get yourself this new accessory for your expensive camera and lenses. There are many things which would be required to make the tripod work in your favor so you can click the perfect picture you had invested for. Some of them are discussed below for your reference:
- Load Capacity: The main purpose of your tripod is to support your camera along with your lenses. So, before anything this is the most important aspect while selecting a tripod. The general rule of thumb is that the tripod you intend to buy should have a load bearing capacity of 1.5 times the maximum load you intend to use it for. Your load calculation should include your camera, your heaviest lens and also other accessories if you intend to mount them while using your camera on a tripod.
- Portability: Generally you will want to carry your tripod for outdoor shoots like long exposure and astro photography ect. So make it a point that when you select your tripod it is portable. It will spoil your entire trip if you don’t have a portable tripod which folds neatly and sits in your bag. It should be easy to carry and the collapsed length needs to be small enough for it to be handy.
- Weight: One more factor which is a bit tricky to decide, I say this because a heavy tripod is sturdier, and a light tripod is more portable and easier to use. So, when you are making a decision as to which factor you need to prioritize take one more bonus tip into consideration. Opt for a light tripod which had a Gravity hook, this is a small hook below the tripod which will allow to weigh it down using sand bags or any other weight for that matter to make it more sturdy. Generally, you will have options to choose from carbon fiber, aluminum or magnesium alloy tripod. The carbon fiber being the lightest is also the most expensive one to get.
- Sturdiness: As we have already seen the heavier the tripod the sturdier it is. However, we have also seen ways to make a light tripod sturdy by means of adding sand bags or hanging weights. The main concern for sturdiness is the tripod able to withstand the weight of your camera along with the heaviest lens you intend to use with it. Also, you need to decide the weather condition you intend to use it in. Also, there are optional rubber pads which damp the vibration and help to get a good grip on almost all surfaced. Selecting waterproof legs might also be a good option, so you don’t have to worry about taking shots in conditions where there is water, like sea, waterfalls, lakes, rain and so on and so forth.
- Height: Almost all tripods have adjustable heights, atleast I have never seen in my life whose height cannot be adjusted. So how do you decide what is the right height for you to buy. Now you would thing why not to go for a tripod that has a range from ground level to the max they can provide. Yes definitely you can, if you have a ton of money to spare. But for the general people you should take an educated decision. A simple rule which you can use to get your self a correct height tripod is, A tripod should be tall enough to shoot your subject of choice, so generally purchase a tripod that will bring the camera to your eye level, without using the Centre column. Stooping over the tripod for an extended period of time will not only wear you out and make you tired but also will make you lose focus.
- Value for money: It all boils down to this, the amount you want to spend. It would be almost impossible to decide the amount first and then look for all your requirements to fit in that budget. This is the reason I kept this cubical last to talk about. Now the only question you need to ask yourself is “Is the cost justifying the product and how many times will you really use the tripod”. I generally have this formula for everything that I buy. Divide the cost of the product by the number of times you really want to use before you upgrade it or stop using it. If the per usage cost seems to be justifiable, volla you have got yourself a new tripod!
For those of you who still are in a dilemma to buy or not to buy here are some valuable tips to use your camera for some steady shots without the tripod.
- Always rest your camera on a steady surface, find a ledge or a pile of books or even a simple table or a stool will do the trick.
- Make sure your elbow rests on a steady surface or is perfectly tucked in when you are standing.
- Breath in normally and slowly exhale. Click the photo when you are exaling, do not try to hold your breath while clicking, because that is only going to make you uncomfortable and also will start a muscle shiver.
- Shoot in RAW and also use a higher ISO so it will give you a leeway for using a faster shutter speed which in turn will minimize your chances of having a soft image. Also shooting in RAW will help you to enhance your photos later in post processing.