The Third Most Important Piece of Kit

You only need three pieces of equipment when you go out to shoot. You will need some computer equipment at home, true. In the field however, your main needs are a camera, a lens and a tripod. Simple!

A tripod is probably the third most important piece of your photography equipment. The one thing a lot of starters don’t have is a tripod. I am frequently asked “why is my shot blurred”? Hand-held movement is the most common cause. It is generally pretty ugly at its worst. The messy, jerky blur ruins your shot. At best your shot is soft. Here is what happens. While the shutter is open the sensor records the light entering the lens. A very fast shutter movement does not allow the hand time to move – sharp shot. A longer shutter opening and even slight hand movement causes blur. On a very long shutter opening, like for a dusk shot, even a steady hand moves.

Most digital cameras get great results for most bright daylight shots. They auto-adjust the sensitivity of the sensor to shorten the time the shutter is open. This eliminates movement blur. During the short shutter opening (say, 1000th second) the hand does not have time to move. Great shot!

Light levels are the issue. Low light needs longer shutter opening. Using flash would raise the light levels and shorten the shutter opening time. In a landscape it just does not have the power to light the whole area. Flash is less effective in a bigger field of view – the light is lost. In the darker conditions even nippy point and shoot cameras cannot open the shutter for short times. There is just not enough light to get the shot. Result, blur or softness in the shot.

To overcome blur you need to leave the shutter open for longer. This is where we came in. Long shutter times need a tripod. Actually, to get pin sharp, quality shots, in most circumstances, you need a tripod. Landscapers are the ultimate tripod users. Wedding photographers would not be seen without one. Still-life photographers find them essential. Natural history shots must be sharp to be effective. Generally, if the shutter is open longer the final shot tends to be better quality. If you want your shot to be pin-sharp use a tripod.

Not all shots need a tripod. For most shots though, a significant gain in quality and sharpness will come from using one. Some shots are not possible without a tripod. So to improve your shots get a tripod. Camera – lens – tripod! A winning triad.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
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