Every serious photographer uses a tripod
Is the use of a tripod something from a previous century, or is it still needed? After all, we can increase our ISO to previously unheard of values, and we now have lenses with built-in image stabilization.
I ALWAYS USE A TRIPOD, AND I’LL TELL YOU WHY:
High ISO ratings always give you more noise. How much more depends on the quality of the camera, but a lower ISO is still always better.
Longer lenses are also more difficult to hand-hold, not just because they are heavier, but the longer focal length will exaggerate small movements and cause motion blur.
A tripod makes it possible to very accurately determine your composition and your focus-point, especially with the use of live-view function.
A tripod also gives you the freedom to use longer shutter speeds, which is often required when you use a polarizing filter or very small apertures for more depth-of-field.
It is also easier to photograph your subjects with varying shutter speeds, apertures, and exposures (or light metering methods), so you can later determine you best shot on the computer. This can be very educational.
By taking the time to set up the tripod you allow yourself a moment of reflection, to better visualize your shot.
You might take fewer pictures in a day, on fewer different locations, but that can actually give you a greater sense of accomplishment.
You might get several great shots, instead of hundreds of average ones. It will also save you an enormous amount of time in post production, when you need to evaluate and edit your day’s work.
I actually use two types of camera stabilizers, a gun-stock shoulder mount, and a tripod.
The shoulder mount (see the article of December 2011) is for subjects that just won’t sit still. I usually use it with flash-fill with a Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX.
For all other subjects, even sleeping or resting insects, I use a tripod, the Manfrotto Photo Pro 458B.
There no other tripod in the world that is as quick to set up as this one. There are no twist grips or clamps to adjust the legs. Just pull out the leg to the desired length, and you’re done. Fantastic! Press the button, and you collapse it to achieve a lower vantage point. Release the button, and it’s locked again. Check out the video on YouTube to see how easy it is.
Working quickly with macro photography can make all the difference between a great shot and a bug that’s gone. This tripod works well in the water too, up to 45 cm (18 inches) deep, because the bottom leg section is water tight. This is particularly handy when photographing dragonflies, frogs, or water lilies. Overall stability is also enhanced because the bottom leg section the thickest. The reverse is true with other tripods. There is a center column with this tripod, but luckily you can unscrew the bottom section, so you can spread the legs to shoot at a very low angle. The center column can be removed and mounted horizontally to shoot straight down, or it can be mounted upside-down to get the camera down to ground level or just above the water surface.
Remember, when you are using a tripod, always turn off the lens Image Stabilization.
While you can’t say this tripod is cheap, it is definitely an important part of your kit, just as important as the camera and your lenses.
1. The tripod can actually drop completely flat, which is lower that shown here.
2. If that’s not low enough, I can invert the center colums and hang the camera below the tripod.
3. In order to shoot straight down, you can mount the center column horizontally.
4. This shot clearly shows how the leg segments go from thin to thick.
5. This ensures that legs are water-tight up to the red line you see in this photo.
6. Even when the tripod is completely extended, it is stable enough to support 8 kg. (17 ½ pounds).