• Me and my tripod – reflected in paintwork – tripod myths •
I use a tripod most days in some pretty tight situations. They are
quick, effective and give great results!
[Image by Damon Guy • Click to view large]
Tripods improve your results – fact!
Tripod myths can be heard regularly. Actually they make life a lot easier and faster. So, why are amateurs tripod shy? Why buy cheap? Why is simplicity apparently so difficult for tripod starters? Read on…
What are the tripod myths?
Over the years I have heard all the excuses. Here are some things I have heard…
- I’ll miss the moment!
- Tripods are too much bother.
- I can shoot great shots hand-held.
- It slows me up.
- I like to walk the scene…
- They are cumbersome, get in the way and heavy.
- It’s not possible or easy to use it all the time.
I am sure there are other issues. But let’s look at these in detail.
Tripod myths: Missing the moment?
Every photographer gets lucky sometimes. They happen to point the camera pointing right and, snap, they got it.
Let’s be honest. How many times does that lucky capture happen? “Journalists?”, I hear you say? Actually, they rarely get lucky either. Photo-journalists train in preparation, planning and investigation. Being there and aware when the event happens is not an accident. They get the story time and time again.
If you plan for your tripod you will get the shot too. You won’t miss the shot getting your DSLR out either.
Forethought and planning are good photographic habits. Cultivate and develop these skills. You get the shot, and it’ll be sharper. If you are going to shoot, do it properly. Have both camera and tripod ready. Don’t be a victim of tripod myths, be in control of your photography.
Too much bother? One of the tripod myths that is just silly
What can be too much bother about getting a sharp, properly framed image? Loading a tripod is no more trouble than putting your camera in the car. It takes only 15 seconds to set up. The tripod will also give you time and scope to take a great shot. It holds your camera for lens changes and while scouting the next shot. Bother? Not really.
Bothered people think tripods are hard work. Do they realise how much the picture is improved? Attention to detail over your shots is what makes excellent images. Taking a quick snap may be no bother. Its unlikely to yield a great image either. This is one of the tripod myths that does not stand up!
Tripod myths: Great hand held shots
There are lots of situations where great light and a steady hand can get a sharp result. Congratulations. The time and effort you put into your photography is paying off. However, of all the situations I take pictures in, only about a third can be hand held. High ISO might help. More likely digital Noise would spoil the image. Better to take a longer exposure and use, say, ISO100. Quality is important.
Tripod myths will limit you to one third of your potential as a photog. It makes you a limited photographer. Tripods extend your shooting time, flexibility and quality of image.
Tripod myths: It slows me up
Yes, finally, a fact! Tripods make you think about your photograph. Perhaps not one of the tripod myths, more of a tripod mistake.
Since digital cameras became common I see a lot of machine-gun photography. A keen photog arrives, sprays off a hundred shots… Then, off they go. Wow.
Spend the first few minutes considering options. Proceed with a plan and with care. Cover all the shots you need. Sometimes you will get new ideas. Great, get more shots.
Once, at an aircraft museum with a keen photographer I was alone in minutes. My friend shot out of sight. We met up later. He had over 1000 pictures. He was elated. I had less than seventy shots. “Ah!”, he said. “You should’ve left the tripod at home!”
Later that week things turned around. He had eleven fair shots and one really good one. He had spent hours and hours in post-processing and missed lots of sleep. My more careful approach paid off. I had more than 40 quality images. As he looked at them he kept saying, “I took a picture of that too, but it didn’t come out”. And, “How did you get that one to look so good?”. My care, quality and composition paid off. The tripod helped me think about my photography and take care. I only spent about two hours in post-processing too. Most on simple tweaks. I had plenty of time for other shoots that week.
One question… Who was really slowed up here?
Tripod myths: Working the scene
One of my regular jobs involves 15 – 20 finished pictures of a scene. Picture order and camera height is important. We often work in low light. Space is restricted at many sites. We are not allowed to do any post-processing.
This is fast work. In 15 minutes I make up to 35 shots at a high enough standard to meet the needs of a court case.
Does a tripod hold me up or prevent me working the scene? Does it prevent my shots? On the contrary. I could not do the job without it. I would have to take many more shots. My shots would be less flexible. I would not achieve court-ready sharpness and detail. Without a tripod I could not work the scene properly.
Tripod myths: Cumbersome, heavy, intrusive?
Sometimes. A tripod can be badly adapted for what you are doing. So, if you are going to do something a lot, buy the right tripod. Travel a lot? Get a light one. Work on beaches a lot? Choose sealed feet to keep the sand out. Working special scenes? Get a special tripod. General photography? Buy general.
If you have the wrong equipment you can rightly claim it’s no good! So, buy the right equipment for the job. Make sure you get a quality piece of equipment. You spend thousands on your camera and lenses, so there is little point in spending only ten on your tripod. Quality workmanship and materials are important to producing quality images. You would not accept less with your camera so why with your tripod? This is one of the tripod myths that does stand up – if you have the wrong equipment. Get it right and you have a friend for life.
Sometimes ya gotta go with the flow…
I am not saying tripods are everything. In fact there are many situations where they are not suitable or you can’t use them. Also, we all enjoy the freedom and creativity of hand-held shots sometimes. If we fall prey to tripod myths we will never get past auto settings and bright daylight shots.
All I am saying is, don’t limit yourself. Get past the tripod myths. Buy a tripod and make sure you know how to use it. Your photography will improve if you use it a lot. Use it only a little and you’ll pay a penalty.
Why not look at some of the options now…
General tripods for DSLRs
Manfrotto – Quality tripods for committed photographers .
Also check out this post and recommendation…
Buy a good tripod – nothing beats it
Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod Legs Only – Black
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Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)
Damon is managing editor of Photokonnexion.com with professional experience in photography, writing, image libraries, and computing. He is also an experienced, webmaster and a trained teacher. Damon runs regular training for digital photographers who are just starting out.
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