It has been a long, expensive, and tedious voyage down tripod lane! I currently own four tripods and have returned five tripods to the store. I wished I could sit here and write about the “Holy Grail” of tripods, but folks there isn’t one. Bottom line is that tripods are a very individual thing like a person’s mate! There is no one size fits all tripod!
Let’s take the photo below for an example of a specialized tripod.
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I had to hike into this lake for about a mile in knee high snow. So it was important that the tripod was light. Secondly this shot required a long exposure, so I needed a steady tripod. Getting the tripod steady was tricky because the shore was strewn with various size boulders, which required my tripod to be positioned like a Romanian gymnast on a pommel horse during a tough routine.
My favorite way to shoot is to jump in the car and drive around or walk around until I see something cool to shoot. This requires a lot of setting up and taking down of the tripod. I had a tripod with 5 different joints on each leg. It got super frustrating to adjust each joint. Back to the store with that tripod! I am a 3 joint per leg maximum type guy!
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Your tripod must be able to handle the weight of your camera and lenses. Let’s look at the photo below for an example.
This shot is a macro capture of an interesting glass vase. To get this closeup look I used a 105mm macro lens, which is a moderately heavy lens with three different sizes of extender tubes. The 105 mm at a downward shooting angle sticks out a good distance from the camera body requiring a reasonably stout tripod to handle the weight. However, a lot of adjustments must be made during fixed lens macro work. A super heavy tripod designed for handling 600 mm lenses that wildlife photographers favor would be a pain in the ass to make these small adjustments.
I am a huge fan of the carbon fiber tripods. Not only do they look cool with the diamond patterns created by the criss-crossed carbon fibers, but they do not rust and are light weight. If a photographer is going to walk very far with their camera gear a light tripod is essential.
Make sure your tripod allows you to reverse the central post so you can position your camera upside down for super close to the ground shots. When do you want to make super close to the ground shots? Small flowers, extreme macro shots, and I used this option with a mountain reflection off a lake setup. Handy feature for your tripod to have, but I am not going to lie it really sucks getting down on your belly to set your camera into the proper position.
So folks, you will just have use and play with several types of tripods to find one that works for you! Wished I had better news! Be sure to keep your receipt!
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