The common attribute of good Tripods is that they are heavy. Even if I do not always want to bring the tripod on my photo tours, still have it with in in the car.
I have often considered buying a lightweight tripod, but am abandoning the idea every time. Lightweight tripods all to have the common downside; they seems never to be designed for reasonable sized loads with any degree of stability. And stability, that is the whole point about tripods. You can buy specialized tripods which are great for a particular purpose, but remember that a tripod optimized for one is rarely your best choice for the other.
What about those fancy materials; carbon fiber, they are strong and lightweight. And it’s true; a carbon fiber tripod knows that they are lighter in weight compared to the same model in aluminum. But if you compare the weight of a carbon fiber tripod to an equivalent aluminum one you will see that the weight saved is fairly diminished. Remember that it is only a small portion of the tripod that is made out of carbon. As a fact everything but the leg tubes is non carbon. You might save half a kg give and take, but for me it’s fairly unimportant and certainly does not justify the expense when considering the weight of your camera, lenses, camera bag and everything else. What matters to me is the fact that carbon doesn’t conduct cold like the aluminum tripod does. If there is one argument I’ll by that’s cold, aluminum becomes freezing cold.
Tripods are great when
- Doing HDR, ND photography or just slower shutter speeds where you want motion blur or increased DOF.
- Doing Macro
- Doing photos that need large scale development
- The longer the focal length of the lens, and the longer the exposure, the more time the camera has to wobble. You will need a tripod if the shutter speed is longer than the reciprocal of the focal length (e.g., 1/50 for a 50mm lens, or 1/500 for a 500mm lens).
- When doing Panoramas
The purpose of a tripod is keeping your camera as stable as possible. The tinniest of vibrations will have effect on your photo. To avoid shakes there is a number of things you can do to minimize the risk.
Look for a stable underground, if it is hard surface make sure you do have a grip. If needed be stabilize your tripod by hanging a weight from the center column, be careful that you do not introduce shakes due to the weight swinging. Wind is a great evil here, if at all possible do shield from it.
Limit the height of your tripod; the higher you extend your tripod the more instable it will be. When extending the legs of your tripod make sure to extend the thickest part of the legs first. The central column should only be used for fine adjustments; it is not as solid as the legs.
Always spread the legs fully. Common sense really, it’s going to be more stable the further you spread the legs.
Tripod and Stabilization
Many shooters turn the camera or lens’s image stabilization on and never look back, combined with a Tripod and the results ranges from everything from blurry pictures to catastrophic situations where the lens or cameras stabilization is broken.