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Home / Blog / A Beginner’s Guide to Finding the Right Tripod

 

Hey photographer! Martina here!

Tripods are one of those pieces of equipment that every photographer might need at one point or another. You don’t need one all the time, but when you do, having one makes all the difference.

The function of the tripod is very simple – to keep your camera steady. By having your camera steady you’re able to shoot at night, get those silky smooth waterfall photos, shoot the stars, take long exposure shots and a lot more!

Choosing a tripod can be overwhelming. There are just way too many choices out there.

Here are few guidelines to follow to find the right tripod for you!

Weight rating

The first thing to look at is how much weight a tripod can support. Depending on your camera and lens you’ll want to choose a tripod that supports their combined weight. For example, if you have a big telephoto lens, you need a heavy duty tripod. If you use a flash or battery grip, factor that weight in as well.

Tripod height

It’s important to have a tripod that matches your hight. If the tripod is too low, you might get tired of bending to look through the viewfinder. If it’s higher, you can always adjust.

Another factor is the height of the tripod when folded for easy travel.  I like to keep my tripod in my carry-on when I fly, so I prefer something light and compact.

Weight of the tripod

The weight of your tripod is very important unless you need it for your studio. If your tripod is too heavy, you’ll find yourself leaving it at home.

The lightest tripods are made from carbon but they tend to be more expensive.

Most budget-friendly tripods nowadays are made from aluminum, which is heavier than carbon.

Tripod legs

Tripod legs generally come in two forms – tubular and non-tubular. All-carbon-fiber legs come in tubular form and have a threaded twist-lock system to secure the legs, while aluminum tripods might come in different shapes with a flip-lock. Depending on the maximum height of the tripod, there might be between 3 and 5 sections on the tripod legs. The more sections, the higher the tripod can extend.

Tripod feet

Some advanced tripods will allow you to change the feet for different conditions. Unless you are planning to shoot in icy or slippery conditions, the standard rubber feet will work fine.

Center post

Some tripods come with a centerpiece in the middle that allows you to increase the height even further. Many photographers prefer tripods without it, simply because of the vibration created when using it with long telephoto lenses.

Tripod Head

The tripod head is the most essential part of the tripod. It is responsible for securing the camera and controlling the movement.

There are 3 different types of tripod heads:

-Pan-Tilt Head: Most traditional type. It is identified by the three control arms extending from the body of the head. They are used to adjust the position of the head one axis at a time.

-Ball-Head: Consists of a ball enclosed in a housing with a tightening knob.

-Gimbal Head: Designed to allow rapid movements of the lens to track fast-moving subjects. When set up properly, the camera will remain steady even when not being held by the photographer.

Stability

Just because a tripod is heavy it doesn’t mean it’s the most stable option. It’s important for your tripod to be able to withstand occasional bumps or knocks in the field or rough, windy weather. If not, it could tilt and break your equipment.

Here are few tripods we really like:

  • Sunpak Ultra 7000 – $59.95. Very cheap, weighs 4.1 pounds (1.9 kg) and can support up to 12.3 pounds (5.6 kg) of total weight.

 

  • Slik Pro 340DX Tripod (Black) with 3-Way Pan/Tilt Head – $99.95. Although maximum height is too short for some people at only 57.9″ (147 cm), it is very lightweight at 3.5 pounds (1.58 kg) and can support up to 8.8 lbs (4 kg) of total weight. This would be a great tripod to take on long hikes.

 

  • Slik Pro 700DX Tripod with 3-Way Pan/Tilt Head – $139.95. It is a little heavy at 7 pounds (3.18 kg), but it can support up to 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of total weight and can be extended all the way to 74.8″ (190 cm).

Happy Shooting!

 
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