Thursday, 15 February 2007

Improve Your Photos, Buy A Tripod

… and get the right one first time!

If you want to take more than snapshots with your camera, get a tripod. Any landscape work will become much better and it is the only way to take impressive night scenes.

There are basically two opinions out there:

1) Weld your camera to your tripod and never take it off. Well, yes, you will get much sharper images. Also the fact that the tripod is slowing you down will make you choose/ lock-in a better composition.

2) Forget the tripod. It is limiting your creativity and you will loose too many opportunities/ shots. Many angles/ views you would never consider if your camera were mounted to a tripod.

Of cause the truth lies somewhere in between. Be aware of the facts and use the equipment to your advantage. Below are two photos, one taken with a tripod, one without. Take a guess ;-)

If you want to use the tripod outside, you will need a solid one! Forget the cheap/ tabletop ones. You will end up buying twice. Unfortunately solid means heavy. Solid and lightweight means carbon-fibre, and that means big $$$.

Good tripods get sold in “two parts” – legs and head. The legs determine the stability and hight. The head is used to move/ position the camera and lock it. Ball heads are the most used type for photography.

I bought a package with Bogen / Manfrotto 3001BN Tripod Legs and 486RC2 Compact Ballhead. This combo weighs 2.5 kg (1.7kg legs + 0.8kg head) and can support up to 4.5kg of equipment. It is ok for me to carry around. So I assume that is true for the average built male photographer. The package costs about 200 US$ (Dec 2006).

However, if you want to travel light, you will need to spend much more. Carbon-fire legs (approx. 1kg) plus a magnesium head will weigh approx. 1.5kg in total. It saves you 1kg compared to non-carbon set-up, but will cost you at least 500 US$.

A good place to buy is B&H Photo ( Great reputation, no scams there. Check it out.

Below are two more tripod photo examples.

Twilight city shots are most impressive as the lights and the dark blue sky create a great atmosphere.

Long exposures capture the lights of the cars on the road.

1 comment:

Trevor & Rachel said...

Great site, great tips and great photos.