Tag Archives: Tripod head

Buy a good tripod – nothing beats it

Good tripod as an all-rounder - Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod

A quality, versatile and robust tripod – the Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod External link - opens new tab/page is unbeatable as an all-rounder. Buy a good tripod – you will not regret it!

Can you recommend a good tripod?

Nothing beats a good tripod. Most people forget about them until they have struggled for a long time. Then they buy a cheap one. Later they have to think again. Well, I suggest you buy a good tripod now and save yourself strife down the line! I have recommend a good buy at the page end.

Why buy a good tripod?

Too many people I have taught and worked with have told me tales of three legged woes. Everyone thinks that to make your DSLR camera stable all you need is three legs. This is simply not true. Quality is just as important. You need a good tripod. Here are some reasons to go for a quality purchase from the start…

 Good Tripod  Cheap and cheerful
 Solid and stable  Limited by poor engineering
 Reliable fittings  Fittings regularly break
 Quality paint  Poor or no paint – highly reflective aluminium
 Quality footings seal the legs to stop dirt getting in  Legs left unsealed let dirt in and grit quickly wears the joints
Strong enough for all DSLRs and a big lens Wobbly with anything larger than a bridge camera
 Top platform precisely engineered – no movement and good fitting for the camera  Wobbly platform, poor clip, loose fitting. Screws sometimes damage the camera
Quality joints on legs for long life and stable grip Leg joints quickly wear and become wobbly with poor materials
 Multiple leg positions to allow adjustment on uneven ground  One leg position
 Fully adjustable top column to allow multiple positions.  One wobbly top column
 Legs can be adjusted to many wide angles  One angle for legs
 Reversible – so you can get your camera near the ground  Not reversible
 Proper hand grips  No hand grips
 Interchangeable head fitting  No head fitting – or low quality flip up quick release

There are other reasons to buy a good tripod, but you get the idea. Nearly every aspect of camera stability is reduced to keep the price down. I am not one to advocate gear lust or spending money where it is not worth it. However, I have come across each of the design and quality flaws above. From personal choice and experience it’s clear only the best is good enough when making your camera stable.

Adaptability

While a quality tripod is great, you normally need to buy a good head too. Cheap tripods usually without them, or have poor quality ones. A good tripod head is an investment for life. Inter-changeable heads are very useful. I have five heads for different purposes: for macro work; small cameras; panoramas; and one for precise adjustment. My most versatile head I use every day for general purpose work. The Manfrotto 322RC2 Heavy Duty Grip Ball Head External link - opens new tab/page is precise robust, reliable, versatile and has never let me down.

So which tripod do you recommend?

I recommend…

Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod External link - opens new tab/page

This is a robust, and well designed unit with strong legs. It comes as a legs and platform – ready for your inter-changeable head. The black paint is hard wearing and will not create odd light effects. The two comfortable hand grips are essential in cold weather. The legs and centre column are adaptable to a wide range of angles and heights.

 
The Manfrotto 055XPROB is a great tripod and would make a wonderful present for a DSLR owner. It is on special offer on Amazon. Buy one now. External link - opens new tab/page

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer 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 photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Buying a tripod – the essentials

Buying Tripods

• Buying Tripods •
Buying a tripod? There are a lot to choose from. So what should you look for?
Image from the video.

Why would you buy a tripod?

Because a tripod is of the central pillar of your sharpness strategy. Without a tripod you are denying yourself the opportunity to use a large proportion of the settings on you camera. Let’s look more closely at what this means…

Settings

Your camera has three primary controls…

  1. ISO – Controls how sensitive your camera image sensor is to light.
  2. Shutter speed – Controls how long your sensor is exposed to light.
  3. Aperture – controls how much light is allowed to reach the sensor.

These are inter-related. As we want a high quality result (with low digital noise) we set the ISO to around 100. Therefore, for our purposes here we are particularly interested in two of those settings.

  1. Shutter speed – movement blur created with long exposure; movement frozen at short shutter speeds.
  2. Aperture – Wide aperture, shallow depth of field; small aperture gives a deep depth of field.

Looking at these you need to consider how you do photography where only low levels of light enter your camera. Here are some examples:

  • Landscape – Use aperture f11 or higher. Small aperture gives Depth of Field, but lowers the light influx. Therefore you need to have a longer shutter speed especially during the Golden Hour. Hand-holding is not an option.
  • Portraiture – In bright sunlight a shallow depth of field (wide open aperture – blurred background) would overexpose the shot the shot.Use a Neutral Density Filter. This reduces light influx but means a ling exposure. A tripod stops handshake.
  • Still life: You are doing a still life requiring low light for the mood shadows. To get the exposure you need a longish exposure. You do some test shots. Your best exposure is with a shutter speed of one second. Tripod needed!
  • Fireworks: You need to hold the camera steady for about 1/20th of a second to get the full spread of the explosion. Tripod – essential.
  • A disco dance floor – If you want to capture movement you will need to work at around 1/60ths of a second. But you also need sharpness right through. You will need an aperture of f8 or f10. A Tripod is essential if you want the movement blurred and the rest of the room sharp.
  • Photographing a baby. Flash changes the mood and invites crying. It’s also harsh light. Baby skin loves natural light. Use a fast shutter and tripod. Make the composition right then watch the baby. Pick your moments and take several shots. A tripod helps you can concentrate on the right moment while baby is still and happy. You don’t have to recompose for every button push.
  • Family photo – Set the timer, join the group! A tripod is essential.

I could go on… there are dozens of everyday scenarios requiring a tripod. These are just the obvious ones. For sharp, quality shots I need to use a tripod around 75% of the time. My tripod is essential to my business.

If you are an amateur you probably cover more varied situations than me. You need a tripod for a high quality result. It is not uncommon for me to hear students say, “I never use a tripod, I don’t need one”. Then in almost the same breath, “Why are my pictures always blurred or dull?” The answer to the question is – to get a proper exposure you need a tripod.

Lots of people say, “A tripod just slows me up!” My response is simple. Most amateurs take ten shots to get one – and are not necessarily successful. A tripod actually saves you time. You can rely on one shot being sharp. In post production you review one shot for each composition, not dozens.

What to look for…

In general the main considerations are:

  • Well designed: smooth operation, strong leg clips so you can set the tripod at various leg heights.
  • Centre column: Solid, little movement, clamps solid.
  • Legs – variable wideness: You can spread the legs out wider and at different angles to each other.
  • Tripod provides a platform for different heads: Do not buy a tripod with one type of head pre-fitted. It may not be suitable for your camera and there are different heads for different types of photography.
  • Weight or lightness: Solid and heavy tripods mean a good platform. Lighter carbon fibre tripods are more expensive, but the carbon fibre has the ability to reduce vibration (especially when stressed by a weight bag hanging on it to steady it).

For general work I use this tripod…

Of course you need a good head on a good tripod. This head is my mainstay for most work…

A good tripod will last you years. It will be stable and steady even in wind. It will not wear out easily. A worthwhile investment. Don’t be tempted to go cheap. Look for quality brands with after sales parts and good design. Spend more and you will have a flexible friend that helps you in all aspects of your photography.

Have a look at these ranges of tripods. I use a Manfrotto for most situations, but there are other quality ranges. My Benro tripod is very rugged and nothing beats it on a beach or mountainside. Check out these links for a range of ideas…

Manfrotto tripods  External link - opens new tab/page

Gitzo Tripods  External link - opens new tab/page

Giottos Tripods  External link - opens new tab/page

Benro Tripods  External link - opens new tab/page

Which Tripod Should I Buy?

Mike Browne introduces this video with the basics of how to think about what you want in a tripod. What he says is good thinking. At the end two other photographers add their advice. I was impressed with the comments of both. There is a lot of great advice in this video.

Mike Browne  External link - opens new tab/page

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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 photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Focus On Imaging NEC Birmingham 3 – 6 March 2013

Focus On Imaging 2013

Focus On Imaging 2013  External link - opens new tab/page
National Exhibition Centre Birmingham 3 – 6 March 2013

A broad range of new equipment.

It appeared from busy aisles at this years Focus On Imaging Exhibition External link - opens new tab/page that photographic business is actively fighting off the economic depression, possibly even in rude health. With around one hundred and sixty exhibitors there was plenty to see. There was a whole range of new developments as well as the old favourites.

A Key aspect of the show this year was the new ranges of cameras. Leading manufacturers were actively promoting mirrorless cameras. The gradual shift away from the point-and-shoot market also seemed to continue. The camera market appears to be changing. Heavy duty technologies from the top-of-the-range DSLRs are being used in the lower end cameras. The market seems to be shifting in favour of high resolution processing right through the full range.

The economic climate is obviously still impacting. A predominant theme on retail stands was deals and offers. There was plenty on offer too. In previous years many of the accessories available in the UK seemed to be expensive compared to current prices. Today imported goods appear to be impacting the market. Exhibitors were showing equipment which appeared robust and very competitively priced. The shift in the camera market also appears to be creating deals. There were very good prices offered on cameras in all segments of the market. Many of these deals reflect depressed prices in the market in general but the many of the stands were offering greater reductions than even shop prices.

The show organisers unfortunately failed to publish the event list this year. Show goers were left to pick up what information they could about various talks and demonstrations from stands themselves. It made choosing how to spend our time was a little difficult. However, I managed to see three interesting demonstrations. There was a lot of emphasis on lighting techniques this year. Some very good models and backdrops were shown and lots of people were taking photographs. If you are going to go to the show take your camera for some additional fun.

Aside from impressive stands by Canon and Nikon, Sigma had an impressive spread of lenses available. There were some excellent tripods on show this year on several stands. Despite the reluctance of beginners to buy them, the tripod market is both competitive and innovative. Tripod heads are getting smoother and there are some very interesting new ideas, particularly in the high-engineering end of the market. However, the top tripod head units were weighing in at around £500… not a price to be taken lightly.

Other stands of interest included the extremely active Disabled Photographers’ Society. That society fosters a wonderful camaraderie and energy among its members. The Royal Photographic Society were also at the exhibition showing continuous short events which were well attended. They also are in active recruiting mode.

My overall impression of the exhibition this year was one of great energy. There was a lot of business being transacted and show-goers were being dynamic on all the stands. It was an enjoyable day, and one that will help to keep me informed about products and trends in this business.

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 photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

A simple introduction to tripod sharpness and tripod heads

PhotographyPhactoids

Photography Phactoids number 006.

Buying a decent tripod can be quite taxing. Getting a quality result requires a quality tripod. Many photographers do not realise how important the tripod head is that fits on top of a good tripod. Today we have included a new article in our Photographic Glossary that explains all about tripod heads, how they work and the different types.

Photographic accuracy and sharpness

It is surprising how accurate your photography becomes as you develop. After all, improving your sharpness (see: The Zen of sharpness – 12 easy ways to improve) is about tightening up your camera control and minimising any movement in the process of taking the shot.

Most starter photographers rarely use a tripod. After a while they realise that the softness they suffer is down to poor control of the camera and lack of a tripod. What they do not realise is that a poor tripod is as bad as no tripod at all. I know many, many people who have bought cheap and then had to buy again – because with tripods, cheap is rubbish!

Well, the same can be said of tripod heads. A poor piece of engineering on a tripod head, or one that is too flimsy will give you as many problems as a poor tripod. Almost certainly you will get poor accuracy, bad alignment, wobble, poor locking and damage. Working to improve your sharpness is about being accurate, tightly controlled and stable in all aspects of the shot – including the tripod and tripod head combination. When everything is tight and there are no weak links you can expect tight and sharp photographs.

Make sure you understand about tripod heads… they are an essential item. You may have a great tripod, but a poor head will let the whole combination down.

See: Definition: Tripod Head for a detailed examination of how the heads work, the different types and some example pictures.

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 photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.