Tripods

Tripod features

Written by Gail Bjork

Tripods are indispensable for preventing camera shake. Learn about some of the features to look for when buying a tripod for a digital camera.

Mini TripodA tripod is an important accessory that creates a steady, level platform for a camera. Use of a tripod eliminates blur in images caused by camera shake that can occur when taking photos while hand-holding a camera.

A tripod is useful for close-up, panning and landscape shots. It is used for taking photos in very low light, for timed exposures, when using slow shutter speeds and when using a heavy lens with a long focal length.

There are so many types, qualities, sizes and weights of tripods that buying one for the first time can be daunting.

A decent tripod does not have to cost a lot but don’t buy one that is cheaply made. Paying up front for a decent tripod is less expensive than having to buy a new camera if the tripod falls over. A sturdy, well-balanced and well made tripod is particularly important when using heavy cameras and lenses.

A tripod should be easy to set up, easy to use and have controls that are easy to adjust. It should be stable, rugged and high enough so you can easily look through the viewfinder or observe the LCD.

If you travel a lot, consider a tripod which is lightweight and folds to a compact size.

If your digital camera has image stabilization, check your camera manual if it should be shut off when using a tripod.

Tripod features

Stability – First and foremost, a tripod should be stable: light enough to carry, yet strong enough to support your camera. If you use add-on lenses factor in the weight of your heaviest lens. Extra lens weight at the front of the camera can topple the tripod.

Quality construction – Avoid tripods that have a lot of plastic parts, particularly mounting screws. Quality tripods are made of metals such as aluminum, carbon fiber and titanium alloy.

Tripod Mounting PlatformQuick Release – A tripod has a mounting screw to enable attachment of a camera by screwing it into a hole found at the bottom of your camera. A tripod with a quick release mounting platform comes with a plate to attach to the bottom of your camera. This lets you quickly attach or detach the camera.

Camera positioned horizontally and vertically – The tripod should be able to hold its position when the orientation of the camera is changed.

Height – High enough for comfortable viewing so you don’t have to bend over. Most tripods have a center extension pole that can be raised for extra height. There are three heights to consider: maximum, minimum and folded height.

Tripod heads – Most consumer tripods have permanent three-way pan tilt heads. There are other types of tripod heads including geared heads and fluid heads.

Clamps levers or flip-locks – Used to adjust the legs of a tripod when on uneven ground.

Bubble level – Built-in level helps keep photos straight when shooting scenes with horizons and other horizontal or vertical lines.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.