How to Choose a Tripod ? Tens of thousands type of Tripod heads cam make your head spinning when you have to choose a tripod. Here is a guide to choose tripod. Basic articles like Tripod in Digital Photography, Is Tripod is Really Useful, Details of Tripod Head can additionally help you apart from this article on how to choose a Tripod.
How to Choose a Tripod : Introduction
The camera tripod is virtually an indispensable tool for any photographer. No camera kit would be complete in the absence of this essential product, which should not be defined only as an accessory. The stand, in fact is critical to many types of photography; among which there is landscape, architecture, macro, still life and photographic safari for wildlife and bird photography. It is also very useful in portrait and sports photography or in any case of action (although for the latter case we prefer the monopod), as well as for studio photography – such as for fashion photography or glamor photography. Therefore you should not skip at all to research and invest the money to buy a tripod, as you do for camera bodies or lenses.
How to Choose a Tripod : Typical Types and Construction
Before you think about how to choose a Tripod, you must know the basics to distinguish what are the issues to be considered for a tripod in photography, better to identify the main parts. The trestle is usually formed by : three legs of course often divided into sections as telescopic part, a base on which the legs converge and on which you can directly mount the head or the camera, a central bracket extension (which is supportive and sliding into the base) to increase the total height of the stand. Besides these parts, the head should be considered, all are necessary complement of each other. In cheaper models, they are integrated but the best solutions lives in those in which the head can be separated from the tripod. So you can choose the right tripod head for your needs. For a conscious decision, you have to consider the features and details of all the Tripods and all its parts.
To choose a tripod, you should also focus on two requirements often in conflict : portability and usability. There is no doubt that a tripod is big, tall and heavy. The tripod is bulky and heavy, it is less convenient to carry and use in some specific fields. But the basic thing it offers is the stability.
To adequately judge the size of the tripod see if they are suitable for your needs and you must evaluate them both when is opened and is closed. In the latter case of course, the shorter and therefore occupies less space is desirable. Let us say for portability 40-50cm (excluding the head) are in average, is the usual value for the tripods, more bigger can exceed this value, the more you will be uncomfortable to carry it around. The tripod should be suitable to bring the camera up to your eye level when you are standing, so it should be proportionate to your height.
We must remember that necessarily tripod head must be mounted (which may be from 10 to 30cm high, typically), if it is not integrated and the camera itself, which will add more to the total height about 10cm (even more in the case of SLR with battery grip, less with mirrorless). So it will be a good foresight to choose a Tripod that at maximum extension is about 20cm lower than your height.
A tripod, that is taller than you, might be still handy for shooting in certain conditions; for example, to overcome the embarrassment of an obstacle (using the live view) or holding the lens diagonally for very high frame. It is important to evaluate the maximum height of the stand is with the center column can be extended and with the center column down: with the same other parameters the tripod will be the perfect one that will reach the most comfortable height without removing the center column. Even the minimum height is very important to consider : often in some special shots you require to be close to the ground. Some genre are almost impossible to do without a tripod, such as macro photography. In these cases, you can choose to have an additional stand which is very small, especially for these occasions.
The weight is also important: a very heavy tripod is stable and suitable for long exposures, but it is also inconvenient and annoying to carry around on a few occasions, such as excursions into the mountains or in cases where there the need to move often. Even in this case, collision of usability and portability matters. Heavy tripods are those that exceed a pound and a half, reaching up to three pounds and beyond. The lightweight tripod instead fall below this value too much, sometimes even under two pounds.
The weight depends almost exclusively on the materials those are used to build the product: aluminum, magnesium and titanium have generous weight, excellent stability and immobility generated due to vibration. They are the most common materials (especially aluminum) and represent the widest range of the market. Their price, compared to other materials, it is quite cheap. The carbon fiber re-in forced materials is the material that instead ensures greater lightness, at the expense of a little stability (but with an excellent vibration damping). Unfortunately, the cost of this material are much higher than the previous common ones and obviously carbon fiber prove to be very expensive. In addition to aluminum and carbon, there are wooden Tripods (also of excellent quality, and at very high prices) and plastic (usually extremely unstable and suitable only to compact or mirrorless) tripods.
Stability is a structural characteristic, as said is influenced by all of the previous features more or less in this way : the stability increases as the weight increases and vice versa, stability is higher in tripods which are less tall and less in the hight, stability is much greater in tripods with the center column not extended, while stability decreases greatly when the center column is extended to the maximum height. In addition to the size and weight, stability is also affected by some constructive aspects of the tripod, in particular: stability is greater when the number of sections are divided is less, stability can be increased when at the lower end of the central column allows to attach weights so as to better the balance the whole system, stability may increase even in the case in which the feet are designed to adapt to the land, for example by the steel spikes designed to be driven in the ground in certain occasions.
Construction and details
First, the sections of the legs of the tripod can be tightened from various systems : they can be closed clamp or made tight by a screw. The systems in the grip are faster and practical, but last less and may be less secure. The screw systems suffer a little less intensive use on the passage of time, but on the field may be a bit less immediate to use, especially in case of tightening screw of non-optimal quality. Furthermore it is not always easy to understand at a glance if the closures are tight or less, but must be re-checked every time, to prevent from falling all over the ground.
Secondly, some tipods do not have the center column, but allow you to screw the head or the camera directly on the base. It is an extremely stable, but unfortunately not very versatile if you are going to change the height of the frame often and / or faster. Then, a few tripods have the center column for shift lens through various systems. In this way the center column will no longer only to vary the height, but also allow to place the camera in awkward positions and in creative way. You can find them to be very useful, for example, for macro photography or in all those situations in which you can not intervene on the position of the subject to be photographed. Finally, some tripods include a monopod, integrated in one of the legs or in the middle column. In this case, you just need unscrew / remove the monopod to have it available. It can be very handy if you often use the monopod and you do not want to bring one extra in addition to the already cumbersome tripod.