Tripod setup

Written by Gail Bjork

Tips for setting up a tripod correctly

Setting up tripodSetting up a tripod correctly helps ensure that it will provide maximum support and stability for your digital camera.
When using heavy equipment or long telephoto lenses, it’s very important that equipment is balanced on the tripod to prevent the tripod from tumbling over.

The order in which you extend the tripod legs and spread them evenly is important too.

  • When setting up a tripod, begin by spreading and fully extending the thickest leg sections first. Extend the thin leg sections last.
  • Lock each leg brace after you extend a leg and before extending the next one.
  • Raise the center post as little as possible, or not at all.
  • Whenever possible, set up the tripod on a level surface. If you are on an uneven surface, adjust and lock one leg at a time to level the tripod. If your tripod has one, check the built-in leveling bubble.
  • Tighten all locks and knobs, including the one for the tripod head unless you will be panning.
  • If your tripod has to ability to pan and tilt, adjust the handle to the desired angle, then turn the handle until the position is locked. Typically the handle is adjusted with the right hand and the left hand operates the camera functions.

Avoid carrying your digital camera when it is attached to a tripod. It can be more easily bumped and/or possibly fall off.

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.


  • Margaret, thanks so much for your kind words!

    I don’t mean to skirt your question but there are so many variables when it comes to tripods, tripods heads, weight and a myriad of other features, that you really should visit a local camera shop to see what works best for you. Another option is to call a place like B&H Photo for suggestions. They carry every imaginable camera accessory you can think of. Sometimes deciding which tripod is more difficult than deciding which camera to buy. :O

  • Hello,
    I would like to upgrade from my 20 year old tripod that was mainly used on ocassions when shooting landscape.  Now I have evolved into more advanced photography involving lot of real estate and would like to upgrade my antique piece of equipment – any suggestions?
    Thank you I know I can count on you since you have helped me a lot in the past with great advice.  Once again, great web site, great job !