Tripods are probably the most essential accessories for a professional photographer, and they are without doubt an investment. With the number of options available, all bombarded with user-friendly features, and also costing a dime, choosing the right one for you and your device can seem like a task. This tripod buying guide has everything you need to know before deciding on the perfect tripod for yourself.
The Ultimate Tripod Buying Guide – 2021
Why use a tripod?
You will need a tripod if you want to achieve long exposure shots, shoot in low light or with filters, for shooting landscapes, nature, taking close-up shots of flowers, insects, etc.
A tripod will provide stability while shooting videos and help you with heavy camera gear like a telephoto lens, assist in shooting time-lapse HDR, panorama, astrography, action, and sports photography, and provide for better framing of shots and self-portraits
Importance of a good tripod
A good tripod is imperative no matter what kind of a photographer you are. Tripods are easy to set up, which is essential if you are an on-the-go street or nature photographer because special sights don’t last for long and you need to be fast.
The primary function of a tripod is to provide stability to your gear but they also enable you to take photos at low shutter speeds and capture moments like a waterfall or a footballer running. When your camera is stable you can easily take good quality photos not only in daylight but also at night that too with low shutter speeds.
Also Read : Best Tripods of 2021
A tripod has the following components:
- Legs – Tripod legs are typically made of aluminum or an aluminum alloy, steel or carbon fiber, and generally have 3 or 4 section height adjustment.
- Head – It is the part that holds your device. The most popular types of heads are bubbleheads and pan-tilt heads.
- Centerpost/ Centerpost – a separate leg that in the middle, providing an extra extension to the tripod.
- Feet – are usually padded to withstand wear and tear, for both indoor and outdoor use.
Tabletop tripods are suitable for group pictures, self-portraits, close-up nature shots, travel photography and can be placed on any flat surface other than the ground. They are small and easily portable and support small cameras.
These tripods provide both a great height extension and also a portable collapsed size in a second. They’re great for small cameras, small SLRs, nature, travel, sports, and amateur video making. They’re probably the best option for travelers.
Medium duty tripods are best suitable for medium format cameras, nature, birding, or wildlife photography, sports, weddings and events, location portraits, and macro photography. These tripods lie between lightweight and sturdy options in terms of functionality.
These tripods lie in the realm of professional photography, they are big and not really portable and are almost always used with a specialised head. They are best suited for studio photography, advertising, still-life photography, and assist medium to large format cameras.
Features to look for :-
Following are the features you should absolutely consider when buying a tripod.
Load capacity. How much load can it bear?
The first thing you need to see is how much weight can a tripod can support. Typically, tripods for DSLRs should be able to support nearly two times more than your heaviest camera and lens. The more load a tripod supports, the more chances are of it being sturdy and more stable to support your equipment.
Height range. How high can it go?
You should always look for a tripod that is compatible with your height so that after mounting the camera, the viewfinder is at your eye-level. Also, take account of the minimum height of the tripod not only for portability purposes but for taking closer to ground-level shots.
There are three types of heads available commonly, the ball/bubble head, which provides a smooth 360-degree rotation. The pan-tilt head provides for one-handed vertical and horizontal movement and is usually built for cheaper models. A gimbal head on the other hand perfectly balances a heavy camera and lens and is best suited for fast-action photography. If you need to buy a head separately make sure it supports the same amount of weight as the legs of your tripod.
How stable is it?
Needless to say, a fully set-up tripod should be able to withstand wind and some occasional bumps. The stability of a tripod can be judged firstly by its load capacity. Secondly by removable or retractable spikes on the legs or even an anti-skid mat on the feet of the tripod, that help with extra-stability especially on uneven terrains. Some tripods also come with an accessory hook, to help you further stabilise the tripod.
The best quick release system is the Acra-Swiss Quick release system and it has become quite common and is available in almost all tripod models, however, it may not be available in cheaper options. The Acra-Swiss system has a durable plate made of aluminum and allows swift attachment of the camera or lens. You should look for this release system when purchasing a tripod.
Tripods are not the only camera support for providing stability to your camera. Depending on your usage there are other options like a Monopod which is perfect for hikers, owing to its lightweight and simple anatomy.
A Gorillapod is an extremely handy option, it has all the functions of a tripod, except it is more flexible, it does not have a great height range but is great for on-the-go photographers. Here are a few options you can check out if you are considering buying a monopod and or a gorillapod.
Also Read : Best Tripods of 2021
The Yantralay monopod has a 3 in 1 design, i.e. it can be used as a camera grip, an extension arm, and even a tripod. This monopod is compatible with a wide variety of devices and is waterproof. The maximum load capacity on this is 1kg and has a minimum and maximum length of 20cm and 52cm respectively.
This is more of a heavy-duty monopod having a load capacity of 10kgs. Its metallic body makes it durable and sturdy. This monopod is also widely compatible with different devices.
This Gorillapod has a maximum weight capacity of 2kgs and works well with DSLR cameras, tablets, phones even speakers, and flashlights. It is 12inches tall and the ball head allows a 180-degree rotation. This Gorillapod is flexible and compact and can attach to almost anything.
Also Read : 8 Best DSLRs in India
It is truly overwhelming choosing the right products for yourself in a market that has so many options. The aim of this tripod buying guide is to help you consider all the possible features and functionalities of a tripod and also the situations and environments you intend to use your tripod in before you set your gaze on a tripod.