Choosing a tripod can be an overwhelming experience, we are given with a wide variety of choices for choosing a suitable tripod which matches your requirements.
Tripod on one hand is a very simple tool to keep our cameras steady when we use them in challenging light conditions. On the other hand, there are so many different situations that come into play when choosing a tripod: How tall should it be? How light weight should it be? How stable it should be? how much weight can it support? How much should I spend on a tripod? These are just some of the questions that might strike you up as you look into buying a new tripod.
1. WHAT IS THE NEED OF A TRIPOD?
-To increase sharpness and depth of field in your images by keeping the camera still in low-light situations when using slow shutter speeds-To make heavy camera gear stable such as long telephoto lenses on the tripod.
-To enhance the quality of the images by keeping the camera ISO low.
- To do self-portraits with a camera timer.
- To shoot videos without vibration.
2. TRIPOD COMPONENTS - WHAT DOES A TRIPOD CONSISTS OF
Legs-Tripod legs are typically made of aluminum, basalt, steel or carbon fiber.
Head-The part that holds a digital camera or a lens.
Centerport or Center column - A separate leg that runs through the middle, allowing to further raise the tripod head.
Feet -good tripods allow changing tripod feet at the end of the legs for indoor and outdoor use.
1. WEIGHT OF THE TRIPOD
The first thing that should be taken care of is that how much weight a tripod can support. Many people make a mistake of buying a tripod that can only support a few pounds and is not made for heavy DSLR equipment. One should always make sure that the tripod you want to buy can support at least 1.5 times more than the total weight of your camera and your heaviest lens. Do not forget that you will at times apply pressure on your camera and sometimes even rest your hands on the setup if you are shooting with long lenses, which adds to the weight. You might also add an external flash or a battery grip to your camera in the future, so you have to keep all of that in mind while buying a tripod .
2. HEIGHT OF THE TRIPOD
Always buy a tripod which matches your height so that you don't have to bend to look into the viewfinder.Once you put your camera on tripod your viewfinder should be at your eye level. However if it is much below your eye level you have to bend down which can be a tiring experience.Another factor to consider is tripod height when it is folded for easier travel, So that the feet can be removed and you can carry it everywhere with you without much of a problem.
3. TRIPOD LEGS
Tripod legs generally made in two forms – tubular and non-tubular. All carbon-fiber legs come in tubular form and have a threaded twist-lock system to secure the legs, while aluminum, basalt and steel tripods might come in different shapes with a flip-lock.
4. TRIPOD FEET
Advance tripods will allow you to replace tripod feet for different conditions and situations – they just unscrew on the bottom of the tripod legs.
There are different types of tripod feet for indoors (rubber or plastic) and outdoors use (metal spikes). Unless you are planning to shoot in icy, rainy/slippery conditions, the standard rubber feet that come with your tripod should work just fine.
5. TRIPOD HEAD
The most essential part of the tripod system is a tripod head. It is responsible for securely holding camera equipment and controlling camera movement. A modular tripod system does not come with a head and you have to buy it separately. When choosing a tripod head, always make sure that it can support at least the same amount of weight your tripod legs can so that there's a balance between both and the equipment remains stable on the tripod system keeping it safe from falling.
There are three types of heads commonly available:
Pan-Tilt Head, Ball-Head, Gimbal Head
Stability is yet another factor that must be kept in mind before buying a tripod. A heavy tripod does not always mean that it is stable. There are plenty of tripod systems out there that are heavy and durable, yet lack the much-needed stability when used in various weather conditions.
When a tripod is fully set up, it has to withstand not only wind, but also occasional bumps and knocks that might happen in the field. You always need to make sure that your camera and lens balance on a tripod rather than lean towards one direction, because you might end up damaging your equipment if the head is not fully tightened or if the front outweighs the back and everything falls on the ground.
Munish Khanna is a well experienced creative photographer based in Delhi, India
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