A Guide to Pick the Best Tripod for Your Camera

To maintain stability of the camera while you click photos, it is highly recommended to get a tripod. However, choosing the right tripod can be a tedious task. We have put forth a buying guide that will help you in your feat.
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Tip to choose the best tripod for your camera
Did You Know?
You can use a fluid head to convert your photo tripod into a video tripod.

A tripod can make all the difference between good and bad photography. Thus, amongst all the camera accessories, the tripod is the most important one. Stability at low shutter speeds and support for heavy cameras are the main reasons behind buying a tripod. In this Buzzle article, we have highlighted the things to look for while buying one.

Construction

The make of the tripod is the first feature that you should look into. Carbon fiber, aluminum, and basalt are the main materials used to make the tripod legs.

Lightweight aluminum tripods lack the strength and thickness that are needed to keep the camera steady, while steady aluminum tripods are very heavy. However, they are cheaper than the other materials and thus, are widely used. You will find most media camera crew using an aluminum tripod.

The carbon fiber tripods are light in weight and rigid, but come in trendy designs. These have a reputation of getting damaged when you drop them. However, due to their aesthetics, these tripods are costly.

The new entrant in this market is the basalt tripod. They are low-end versions of the carbon fiber tripods, but lack the rigidity of its competitors.

Center Column

Center column tripods are not liked by many photographers. Once you extend the full legs of the tripod, the center column can introduce the unwanted vibration. The tripod is not at its stable best when raised to a higher level. But, you will find a lot of tripods that allow horizontal and vertical shooting due to flexible center columns. However, given a choice, it is better to buy tripods without such columns or the ones with removable columns.

Leg Lock

Tripods come with two types of leg lock mechanism: twist grip or spring-loader lever. The spring-loader lever is the quickest mechanism that is currently available, but has metal parts that can be subject to rust. The twist grip, on the other hand, is fast enough, but there are chances of slippage while locking/unlocking. However, there are no add-ons to this type of mechanism.

Leg Covers

Most of the tripods have foam leg covers that help keep this camera accessory warm while it is freezing outside. Though not an essential, it is better to check this feature when buying a tripod.

Tripod Head

One of the decisive factors in choosing the right tripod is its head. The tripod should be stable enough once you tilt the camera to one side. This is the best way to check the stability of the tripod head. Ball head and pan head are the two most widely available options.

The ball head, as the name suggests, has a ball in the socket arrangement which provides you the freedom to rotate the tripod head using a knob. Due to the sheer comfort of rotating the head fast, motion photography becomes easy.

Pan and tilt heads have handles that can adjust the camera in horizontal and vertical positions along with sideways tilting for portraits. By tightening the screws, the camera movement will be limited to a certain axis, which makes it ideal for landscape photography.

The other type of tripod heads available are panoramic heads, which allow the camera to rotate around the nodal points of lenses. This makes capturing panoramic images easy due to the avoidance of parallax errors.

You will also find gimbal head tripods that are suited for wildlife photography due to their fluidity, while handle-style heads have a bike handle-style arrangement, which upon squeezing allows the photographer to move the tripod in the desired direction.

Supports

Professional photography involves placing the camera on difficult terrains. Thus, it is necessary to support them in order provide the stability with filming. For this purpose, look out for photographic bean bags. These are similar to the ones that we use in our homes.

Maximum and Minimum Height

It is necessary to know the maximum height that the tripod will extend to. It should reach your eye level, else you will need to bend down to the camera to click pictures! The other factor that you need to consider is the minimum height that the tripod can be lowered to. This is needed for closeup shots or below-eye level photography.

Folded Height

Tripods will be carried everywhere you go. Hence, it is necessary to check the height of the tripod once you fold it. It should be convenient enough to carry.

Quick Release

This feature allows you to easily release and place the camera on the tripod. This option allows you to keep the hardware screwed to the bottom of the camera and press a lever to remove or install the tripod. Thus, you will be saved of the additional work to manually unscrew the tripod.

Alternatives

If you are hooked on a particular type of photography, you can choose special tripods made for those purposes.

Monopods, as the name suggests, have only one leg. This gives freedom to the photographer to rotate the camera (and the tripod) in all angles. Such tripods are used in sports photography.

Tabletop tripods are mini tripods that are free-standing, allowing the camera to sit firmly on the tripod without any support from the photographer. These are best suited for traveling and hiking. Though they are small in size, they offer features similar to actual tripods.

Best in the Market


Benro Transfunctional Travel Angel Aluminium Tripod Kit

Induro Alloy AT213 Tripod

Manfrotto 294 Aluminium Kit (MK294A3-A0RC2)

Vanguard Auctus Plus 283AT

Velbon GEO E-530

Slik Pro 700DX Complete

Manfrotto 055CXPRO3

Benro Versatile Transformer BRA2970F

Velbon Sherpa 450R Complete

Giottos Silk Road YTL8354 3D Column

Summary

In case you are a first-time buyer, it is necessary to study your needs and then choose the tripod. Amateurs can go in for aluminum tripods with integrated head and legs. These are the cheaper lot in the market, and once you are used to using this additional accessory along with your camera, you can go in for high-end tripod models.

As far as professional photographers are concerned, get yourself a better tripod that is lightweight and has quick-release heads. You can also try table tripods or monopods for specialized photography.

Before you buy a tripod, check whether it fulfills all your needs or not. If you own a heavy DSLR, choose the tripod accordingly, else you will end up ruining both equipment. When you finalize the tripod, make sure it makes a good compromise between the price, weight, and photography type.
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Published: March 17, 2014
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