Everything You Need to Know about Buying the Best photography Tripods

tripod on the sunset

Whether you shoot film, digital, or video, you need a tripod. The slight blur you sometimes see when you shoot with your long-range zoom camera is brought by minor camera shakes. And although cameras or lens are coming with shake reduction features, you will still need to buy a tripod if you want to eliminate the shaky shots.

Tripods are also great for shooting light-scenes without a flash, fireworks, seamless scenes, family portraits with you included, shots of the moon or stars, and plenty of other situations that need long exposures.

In other words, with a tripod, you can have better close-up images and plenty of sharper images. With a tripod, you can use a smaller aperture as well as slow shutter speed without fear of camera shakes.

Here Are More Reasons Why You Need a Tripod

  • To increase the sharpness of your images by eliminating camera shakes. A tripod will help you take sharp shots in low-light situations when the camera is set in slow shutter speeds

  • It offers a platform where you can rest your camera gear

  • To allow more detailed composition while getting the shots right

  • To do self-portraits using your camera timer

  • To shoot macro- insects, flowers, etc.

  • To shoot at impossible or difficult angles

  • To take vibration-free videos

  • So take panoramic or HDR shots that need the exact precision and framing

  • To increase quality of shots by maintaining a low ISO

If you want to keep the noise in images at a minimum, a tripod is a must. Also, if you are into landscape photography, a good tripod stand is a must. For those who want to photograph birds, you should invest in the best tripod for wildlife photography.

Features to Consider When Looking for Best Photography Tripods

Blond photographer female on a grey background

Collapsible size

Collapsed size is how big or long the tripod is when everything is folded up. For those looking for the best tripod for travel, this is an important consideration since you will have to pack the tripod in a bag. The size will let you know if it will fit.

Maximum height extension

This is how tall the tripod will stand when mounted. This determines the maximum height you can take shots.

Load capacity

You should not confuse weight with load capacity. Weight is how heavy a tripod is, whereas maximum load capacity is the maximum weight of camera and lens combination a tripod can handle.

Knowing the maximum load capacity will ensure that you don’t overload your tripod to the extent that it collapses or breaks, thereby damaging your camera or lenses. Therefore, make sure to weigh your camera first with its heaviest lens and flash attached, then buy a tripod that can handle the weight.

Type of head

Most of the tripods come with a head, which ensures your camera equipment are secure. The tripod head also controls the camera movement. If you go for a modular tripod system, you will have to buy a tripod head separately. If you are to buy a tripod head separately, make sure that it can support the same weight amount your tripod legs can.

They are three common types of tripod heads;

Pan-tilt tripod head- this is the most common type of tripod head and is normally built into the best budget travel tripod models. It either comes with a single handle to facilitate horizontal movement or dual handles for vertical and horizontal movement.

Ball-Head. These have one control that tightens or loosens the grip. Their flexibility allows for smooth operation while keeping your lens/camera securely tightened.

Gimbal Head. Compared to ball-heads and pan-tilt heads, gimbal heads perfectly balance heavy lens and camera, making them great for fast-action photography. These tripod head can be used in any direction and doesn’t require tightening of the head anytime you want to rotate the lens/camera.

Feet

Tripod for photo and video cameras

Tripod head feet should come in rubberized ends to allow for usage in outdoor and indoor shooting. If you want it specifically for outdoor shooting, it should have spikes so that it can firmly hold in the ground. There are others that come with ball-bearings. The choice is yours.

Stability

The reason you are buying a tripod is to make your camera and lens stable, right? However, a completely stationary tripod can experience vibration from the wind blowing across your gear or from trembling caused by heavy track movement on the road. A quality tripod should absorb vibrations so that they do not appear on the camera.

Therefore, we can recommend that you go for larger and heavier tripods as they are known to be more stable. But remember, they will be heavier to carry around. Smaller tripods are portable but have less stability.

Also, tripods with legs that have a center column are more stable than those without, but they tend to be less versatile.

As you can see, it is all a matter of compromise.

Material used

Professional lighting equipment tripods

The most common material used to make tripods is either plastic, which is the least expensive and not very durable or aluminum, which is mostly inexpensive as well but lighter. However, high-end tripods are made of carbon fiber. This is not only durable and flexible but also lightweight. And yes, the best carbon fiber tripod will cost you a significant amount. You can also find tripods made of wood, which is great for those in nature photography who may not mind carrying large-format cameras.

With this knowledge in mind, you are now one step closer to buying the best budget tripod for DSLR. To help you make an informed choice, let’s discuss the various types of tripods you can find in the market.

Types of Tripods

Pocket tripods

This is the smallest type of tripods and can easily fit into a backpack. It can come in handy at parties, family get-together, restaurants, and places where you don’t want to drag something big. They will easily support the weight of a compact digital camera.

These are best used for group photos, self-portraits, and party pictures with you included. Remember they should be used with small, light cameras.

Tabletop tripods

These are designed to be positioned on a flat surface but not on the ground. You can just place it on a tabletop and set the time to take the shot. Keep in mind that they have a short maximum height (12-inches), which means that they are great for close-up photography for down-to-earth subjects.

These are great for group shots, travel photography, small cameras, group shots, and self-portraits.

Travel tripods

These are great for biking or hiking. They can support digital SLR with a modest zoom lens or a kit lens. Avoid using a long-zoom lens as it can make the camera tip over. They are best used for sports, travel, nature, small SLRs, amateur-video, and compact cameras.

Medium duty tripods

These can be used for nature photography, studio work, and portable portrait set-ups. They are heavier and sturdier, and better when image sharpness is needed. Medium-duty tripods are a great choice for video cameras thanks to their stability. They are best for birding, nature, location portraits, macro photography, medium-format cameras, nature, and sports.

Studio/ sturdy duty tripods

These are designed for specific purposes. They are big and sometimes immovable, and thus designed to handle large-format cameras. They are best for advertising and studio photography.

Bottom Line

A tripod is an investment that can last you for a very long time. If you go for a cheaper tripod, you will likely upgrade to a better one in the future. You don’t want to work with a sub-par tripod that doesn’t offer you the stability you need. Soon, you may find yourself buying several tripods instead of buying one high-end, pricey tripod the first time. If you are serious about photography, then go for the best tripod that suits your style of photography.

Posted in: Camera basics