If you want to buy a camera tripod, you are faced with an almost unmanageable offer. Whereas in the past camera tripods were mainly made of wood, today high-quality tripods are made of aluminium or carbon fibre. In any case, it is a good idea to consider the following criteria when choosing a tripod.
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7 tips how to find the right tripod for you
In most cases a tripod must be carried from the car to the place of use, therefore the device should be as light as possible. The lighter and transportable option should also be chosen when travelling. There is also a difference between a small, lightweight camera and a heavy DSLR with a large lens. Light travel tripods are available from 800 grams, while the large ones weigh more than 2 kg. Monopods weigh about 650 gr.
A high tripod weight does not automatically mean good stability. Ideally a tripod can be tested beforehand. How does the tripod behave on a windy day? Does it start swinging when someone bumps into it? Carbon tripods are less susceptible to vibration than aluminium tripods, so the shots don’t shake so easily.
3. Locking of the tripod legs
The tripod manufacturers use different mechanisms to lock the tripod legs in certain positions. Which lock is more suitable has a lot to do with personal preferences. A locking device should be easy to use and stable enough to hold that weight of the camera and its lenses. It is not advisable to use cheap plastic locks, which break quickly and make the whole camera tripod unusable.
4. Maximum height
Of course, all tripods can be adjusted in height by extending the tripod legs as well as the centre column. The maximum extendable height of a tripod is mainly determined by one’s own height. At full tripod height one should still be able to look comfortably through the camera. Large persons (1.85 or larger) often have difficulty finding a suitable tripod. If the legs consist of two extendable elements, the tripod is probably larger in the retracted state than with three elements.
5. Tripod heads
Tripod heads are one of the most important things on a camera tripod. A reliable tripod head gives the photographer absolute control over his camera, so this component should be chosen very carefully. Mainly 3-way-tilt, gear and ball heads as well as panorama and video heads are distinguished.
Video heads are often used by wildlife photographers, but also in sports photography and wherever long focal lengths are required. Speed and precision are among the main selection criteria. Photographers often buy the tripod head first and then select the appropriate tripod.
Compact design, flexibility and stability are the decisive criteria for the use of a monopod. Devices of this kind are the perfect companions for hiking and traveling. Not only do they take up little space, but they also provide sufficient support and stability during shooting. These tripods are also very popular with sports photographers, when using heavy telephoto lenses and frequent position changes. Ambitious photographers have the choice between compact tripods for small mirrorless cameras and sturdy tripods for medium format and heavy DSLR cameras.
Camera tripods are mainly used for long exposure times to prevent camera shake. If the shutter speed is slower than 1/60 of a second, a tripod should generally be used. A small spirit level is often used to check whether the tripod is in an upright position. When extended, the tripod should stand firmly on the ground and not wobble. The height can be corrected via the centre column.
Conclusion: Size and weight are the most important factors in camera tripod selection
Tripods should be large enough to allow you to look through the camera at maximum height comfortably and without bending your back. Nothing is worse than photographing the whole day with a curved back. But the bigger the tripod, the higher the weight. As a photographer you will usually have to make a compromise between size and weight.