Tripod heads

Written by Gail Bjork

A tripod is an important accessory to help prevent camera shake, particularly in low light or when a lens is too heavy to hand-hold. There are four basic tripod heads to choose from, each suited for specific photographic tasks.

tripod_headsThe ‘head’ is the part of the tripod that attaches to a camera allowing it to be aimed in various directions. Some heads are integrated into the tripod; others are separate from the tripod legs.

This article provides a very basic overview of the type of heads available. If you need more than a basic tripod, it’s very important to do your homework. Tripods and heads can be expensive and some are better suited than others for specific photographic tasks.

Types of tripod heads

Ball head – Ball heads are the fastest to use and adjust. They allow for quick locking and unlocking of the head. Ball heads are smooth and stable and do not “creep” when used with heavy cameras and lenses. However, ball heads can be less precise than other heads.

Pan-tilt head – A pan-tilt head can be moved to pan and tilt to either side. This enables a camera to be held in horizontal and vertical positions. To control movement, pan-tilt heads have a trigger mounted on a handle that are tightened or loosened to alter the camera position. There a two-, three- and four-way heads.

Geared head – Geared heads, often used in studios and for certain types of field work, offer precise control and great stability for heavy photographic equipment. Capable of fine adjusting and control, a geared head allows the photographer to obtain very exact framing.

Fluid head – Fluid heads contain a lubricating fluid around moving parts that enables very smooth movement of a camera. Fluid heads are particularly useful for panning.

For user reviews and additional information about tripod and tripod heads, visit the Digicamhelp Amazon Shop.

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.