The origins of the tripod are lost in pre-history. Probably some proto-human noticed that when three branches leaned against each other, they braced each other in a stable position. Sometime later, someone tried hanging something from the apex… and so it goes. Perhaps it was Archimedes who took what was an observation in the real world and used it to discover the underlying universal geometric principle at work.
The modern sturdy but portable tripod stand with three leg pairs hinged to a triangular metal head was invented and first manufactured for sale by Sir Francis Ronalds in the late 1820s in Croydon. He sold 140 of the stands in the decade 1830-40. His design was soon imitated by others, thus leading to the photography tripod.
Tripods are one of the essential pieces of equipment a photographer can own. Tripods help to reduce motion blur; they can help to increase sharpness, they provide better stability, and tripods slow you down (which is a good thing) because too many of us rush our work. Tripods are essential for low-light photography, especially in dimly lit churches and cathedrals.
Tripods keep your camera still for sharper and clearer long-exposure shots. Tripods are necessary for HDR photography and help with framing and composition. Tripods can also be used as a stand for other photography equipment such as lights, reflectors and Wimberly plamps.
Tripods are essential for landscape, panorama, product, tech, still life, macro, Astro, flora, storm, architecture, food and drink, special effects, and some styles of portraiture photography. In addition to this, tripods are required for videography, editorial and photojournalism work. Tripods are necessary for time-lapse and self-portrait photography too.
Tripods are also helpful for disabled photographers; tripods help reduce the weight of heavy lenses and cameras. Photographers that suffer from hand tremors, arthritis, fibromyalgia, hand cramps, repetitive strain injury, dizziness, etc., may benefit more from using a tripod.
As mentioned above, tripods slow us down, which is a good thing, especially in protected grasslands, woodland, meadows, and nature reserves that are home to threatened, vulnerable, and endangered species of flora. They help reduce trampling and damaging flora and fauna by slowing us down.
Tripods are required for most photography projects. I never leave home without my tripod; however, which is the best tripod for you and your work? Let’s take a look.
Tripods are not always required for portrait photography. I have a friend who works for Vogue that shoots portraits without one, and I know of several other photographers who prefer to photograph headshots without a tripod. With that said, tripods are essential for detailed and close-up portrait photography. Therefore, it’s always best to have one with you on every project.
Portraiture photography requires a tall tripod that is highly adjustable and durable. In addition, the portrait tripod must be lightweight, preferably (carbon fibre), solid, stable, and must come with rubberised and spiked feet. Furthermore, a decent portrait tripod must have beefy locking mechanisms, dampers, a ball head or a three-way head.
If you’re looking for a decent portrait tripod, you’ll need to spend a few hundred pounds, if not more. Therefore, the Manfrotto studio tripod Mk2 or the Gitzo GT4543LS systematic series four carbon eXact long tripod is likely your best option for semi-professional and professional studio portraiture photography.
Manfrotto Studio Tripod Mk2
The Studio Tripod Mk2 is the tallest in the Manfrotto range and is a beast of a tripod. The Mk2 gives you all the scope you’ll need to capture that perfect shot, whatever the angle. It’s also ideal for large format cameras, so even in the most demanding shoots, you can be sure this tripod will be up to the challenge. It can support gear up to 20kg, making it an authentic, heavy-lifting piece of kit. And it’s made to Italy’s leading quality standards, giving you total peace of mind that it’s built to last. Read more here.
Most photographers know that I use FLM tripods because they’re durable and made to last, but the Manfrotto Mk2 is pretty impressive, and it’s now reduced from £810 to £549. The Mk2 is built to last; it’s strong and has super smooth movements. It’s an excellent tripod for detailed work, especially up-close portraiture and its height makes it an ideal choice for all portrait projects.
Gitzo GT4543LS Systematic Series 4 Carbon eXact Long Tripod
Fеаturіng Саrbоn еХасt tubеѕ, ultrа-ѕtаblе fееt, аnd аn Еаѕу Lіnk аttасhmеnt, thе Gіtzо Ѕуѕtеmаtіс GТ4543LЅ Тrіроd Ѕеrіеѕ 4 4Ѕ L (lоng) саn rеасh а mахіmum hеіght оf 158сm, сlоѕе dоwn tо 61сm, аnd саn саrrу uр tо 25kg. Еаѕіеr tо ѕtоrе аnd саrrу thаn thе Ѕеrіеѕ 5 trіроdѕ, thе GТ4543LЅ uѕеѕ thе G-Lосk Ultrа lеg lосkѕ fоr соmfоrtаblе ореrаtіоn, аnd lеg аnglе ѕеlесtоrѕ tо оffеr mоrе grір rооm. Read more here.
Most portrait photographers love the Gitzo tripod; it’s solid and robust due to its high-quality Italian build. The Gitzo is reliable, durable, easy to carry, lightweight and has excellent ergonomics. The only disadvantage I found with this tripod was the rubber turn screws. Indoors, they’re not an issue; however, outside, in cold, wet conditions, the rubber can deteriorate over time. In addition, photographers that suffer from hand cramps or arthritis may find the rubber screws challenging to operate. Otherwise, it’s an excellent piece of engineering, albeit pricy at £899.
Tripods are required for most landscape photography projects. Tripods help you to shoot crisp and sharp images. Moreover, a tripod allows you to shoot low light early morning and evening photography and long exposures when shooting city, landscape and seascape scenes. A tripod will help with focus, depth of field, shutter speed, ISO, framing, composition, focus stacking and HDR. Tripods slow us down, which in turn helps us to create much finer landscape photography.
When shooting landscape photography, it’s important to note that your tripod must be able to carry heavy loads and be lightweight. It’s recommended that you buy a tripod that matches your height, that’s easy to adjust and durable too. I prefer a tripod with robust locking levers over twisty knobs because it’s easy to adjust the tripod in cold, wet and damp environments.
Three-sectioned legs are generally more stable and safer than four or five-sectioned-legged tripods. A sturdy landscape tripod also needs a strong head. I prefer a fluid lever head for shooting fine landscape photography because it helps me to compose scenes easily. Ball heads are just as great, but they’re not practical for all weather conditions.
I prefer a strong carbon fibre tripod that can bear heavy loads with adjustable feet for shooting in wet sand, soil, etc. Two of the best tripods I have used in the past decade for landscape photography are the Peak Design travel tripod and the Benro Induro hydra 2 waterproof carbon fibre tripod.
Peak Design Carbon Fibre Travel Tripod
Тhіѕ trіроd hаѕ gаіnеd muсh ехсіtеmеnt duе tо іtѕ ѕlееk аnd lоw-рrоfіlе dеѕіgn. Whеrе оthеr trаvеl trіроdѕ wоuld wаѕtе ѕрасе wіth unnесеѕѕаrу bulk, thіѕ trіроd расkѕ dоwn tо thе dіаmеtеr оf а wаtеr bоttlе wіth zеrо dеаd ѕрасе. Dеѕріtе thе tіnу dеѕіgn, іt hаѕ bееn орtіmіѕеd fоr uѕе wіth full-frаmе DЅLRѕ аnd tеlерhоtо lеnѕеѕ, but саn bе uѕеd wіth а whоlе rаngе оf kіt іnсludіng mіrrоrlеѕѕ ѕуѕtеmѕ аnd ѕроttіng ѕсореѕ. Іt’ѕ wеаthеrрrооf, іmрасt-rеѕіѕt аnd wіth thе tіnу ѕіzе оf thіѕ trіроd, thеrе rеаllу іѕ nо rеаѕоn nоt tо brіng уоur trіроd wіth уоu оn уоur nехt аdvеnturе. Read more here.
The Peak Design is a five-section legged tripod, which I found was just as stable as a three-sectioned tripod. Released in 2019, it comes in black but with no horizontal centre column. The tripod’s maximum height is 153cms, and its weight is 1.27kgs making it ideal for most travelling photographers.
Made from carbon fibre, the Peak Design can bear loads of 9.1kg, making it an ideal choice for most landscape photographers using mirrorless cameras with long heavy lenses. The Peak Design has a few design flaws noted by numerous photographers, such as the legs only have two leg angles — tall or very low, and there’s no middle angle. That said, the Peak Design is sturdy and does precisely what on says on the tin.
Benro Induro Hydra 2 Waterproof Carbon Fibre Tripod
The Hydra2 tripod has locking legs and feet that can endure most elements (including water) and is fitted with a built-in set of Allen keys to adjust leg tension. The oversized, dust-resistant metal twist locks can be used in any environment, and there’s no need to remove your gloves when the cold weather hits.
With its reverse folding design, the Hydra2 folds down to an impressive 42.4 cm, reaching a maximum height of 153 cm with the centre column extended. The Hydra2 features 5-sections that can support loads up to 17kg.
The Hydra2 comes with interchangeable rubber feet, stainless-steel spikes, an attached weight hook that helps maximise your tripod’s stability and an accessory mount for additional mounting flexibility.
Furthermore, the oversized CNC machined centre column locking collar makes it easy to secure the centre column in any vertical position. The Hydra2 is waterproof too. Read more here.
I wasn’t keen on the Hydra2 when I first read about it. In my opinion, it didn’t seem worthy of me to spend that amount of cash on what looked like an essential beginner’s tripod.
Fortunately, the Hydra2 isn’t a beginner’s tripod, and although the design looks pretty basic, it’s built for the adventurous outdoor photographer. The Hydra2 can be used in rough terrains, including fresh and salt water. It’s built to perform and last and won’t let you down.
I found its design was sleek, well-engineered, robust and very sturdy. The built-in toolkit is also a bonus. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve left my tool kit at home and regretted it. I’m not a fan of twist locks; however, Hydra2’s oversized locks are easy to tighten and undo. In addition, they’re dust resistant and repel moisture, grit and sand. The invertible centre column is also solid. Read more here.
MACRO AND PRODUCT
A good tripod is essential for macro and product photography. Having a tripod with you when shooting means you can get your framing right and then make adjustments to white balance, aperture, shutter speed etc., without the camera’s position changing. It also means your hands are free to adjust/remove distracting objects from the frame without the camera having to be put down.
Tripods range in weight, but for macro and product photography, you will need a reasonably light tripod. Macro wildlife photographers travel a lot. Especially over rough terrain, therefore, finding a lightweight carbon fibre tripod is essential.
If you’re a studio product photographer, you may want to invest in a heavier tripod such as plastic, wood or aluminium because they cost less than carbon fibre.
The Vanguard VEO 3+ 263CB carbon fibre tripod and the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 100 aluminium tripod are incredibly stable for macro and product photography in and outside the studio.
Vanguard VEO 3+ 263CB Carbon Fibre Tripod
The VEO 3+ is an innovative and premium carbon fibre all-in-one tripod with an Arca compatible ball head that includes an innovative Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC) that is ideal for any style of photography, from macro to landscape. The MACC can also be used as a Multi-Mount to attach additional kit for the best results. Read more here.
The Vanguard 3+ is a well-engineered tripod for the most challenging photography projects. Most macro and product photographers prefer the Vanguard 3+ over other branded tripods because it’s robust, sleek, adjustable and lightweight.
The Vanguard 3+ can bear loads of 15kgs and extends to 172.5cm. The tripod’s folded length is 76cm, which is long but is standard for full-size three-section tripods; the advantage here is that the legs are made of fewer sections, which ultimately improves stability because the lower sections don’t need to be so thin.
The carbon fibre legs can be set at 23°, 50° and 80° angles to provide stability in a range of situations as well as control over height. These positions are locked in place with the metal notches at the top of the legs and released with the push of a metal button that makes changing the leg position quick and easy. Read more here.
The only disadvantage I found with this tripod (like most tripods on the market) is that the twist knobs collect a lot of dust and grit, especially in coastal terrains. Apart from that, the build quality is excellent.
Vanguard is a woman-owned family business with years of expertise and thousands of positive Trust Pilot reviews.
Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 100 Aluminium Tripod
The Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 is a tripod kit with a 26mm, three sections Alta Pro 263AT aluminium tripod and Alta BH-100 ball head with an independent friction control knob and max pay load of up to 7 kg/15.5 lbs. As with the VEO 3+, the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ comes with a Multi-Angle Centre Column (MACC).
The Alta Pro 2+ is more than suitable for studio and macro photography; however, its weight (2.4kg) makes it unsuitable for the travelling photographer. Read more here.
The Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 is robust, versatile, adjustable and reliable, too; furthermore, it’s practical for regular use; however, because the tripod is made from aluminium, it comes in on the heavy side at 2.4kg.
Alta Pro 2+ can be bent and extended in a variety of ways. There are seven rubber knobs, each one fulfilling a specific purpose. Moreover, the Alta Pro 2+ can bear loads of 7kg and comes with four leg angles – 20°, 40°, 60° & 80°.
The Alta Pro 2+ is suitable for most DSLRs, mirrorless and professional camera kits and comes with rubber and spiked feet. There is also no hook at the base of the centre column to add additional weight for sturdiness. Moreover, two tripod legs have rubber grips, which are excellent when used in colder climates.
At first, the tripod may look complex with all its markings and rubber knobs. However, with regular use, it becomes significantly easy to work with. All the knobs and locking mechanisms were smooth and effortless to use.
Finding the right tripod for wildlife photography is not straightforward. I see so many wildlife photographers with the wrong tripod making critical mistakes that often lead to poor quality images in the long run.
A tripod and gimbal head are must-have accessories for wildlife photography, especially if you are shooting with large prime lenses. The tripod stabilises heavier camera and lens setups, so you don’t have to strain while holding your gear.
Before buying your wildlife tripod, you must try it first. Look for photography equipment hire firms or contact the company you’re thinking of buying from to enquire about hiring before buying. You won’t regret it, but you will if you buy the wrong one.
Key things to look for when buying a wildlife photography tripod:
- Must be waterproof
- Dust, sand, and moisture resistant
- Able to bear heavy loads
- Oversized quick-release twist knobs are ideal when working in cold and wet environments
- The taller, the better 57-79 inches
- Lightweight (preferably carbon fibre)
- Centre hooks are an advantage to help stabilise the tripod when shooting in windy environments
- Fluid gimbal heads are specifically for long lens users. However, ball heads are a great allrounder. Therefore it’s best to choose both in my opinion.
- Leg adjustments of 25, 55 and 89 degrees are crucial for low-level wildlife photography
- Bubble spirit level
- Monopod leg
- Quick but silent set-up
- Easy to clean
Two of the best tripods I’ve used for wildlife photography are the Gitzo Systematic Series 3 Tripod with series 4 ball head lever release and the Gitzo tripod systematic, series 5 XL, 4 sections.
Gitzo Systematic Series 3 Tripod With Series 4 Ball Head Lever Release
The Gitzo Systematic Series 3 Tripod with series 4 ball head lever release is a three-section carbon fibre tripod that features an ultra G lock system for secure leg locks and quick operation. The Gitzo Series 3 is lightweight, can support loads of 25-30kg, has a maximum height of 130cm, 9cm lowest height, and 61cms closed length. Read more here.
The Gitzo Systematic Series 3 Tripod with series four ball head lever release is for professional wildlife photographers. The Gitzo Series 3 has excellent vibration dampening and a clear rock solid build quality.
The form factor and practical uses seem to cover all bases, and plenty of add-ons can be purchased to extend the functionality further.
These tripods are at the top end of the spectrum and are lavished with top-end materials. Lightweight carbon fibre has a multilayer design: high-quality twist locks, huge flat top plate, and rock-solid stability.
Gitzo Systematic Series 5 XL Tripod, 4 Sections
The Gitzo GT5543XLS Series 5 Systematic XL is an extra-tall, 4-section, professional carbon fibre tripod designed to reach high while securely supporting longer lenses and heavy cameras. Series 5 models are Gitzo’s most rigid tripod, and like the rest of the Systematic family, they set the standard in terms of strength, stability and modularity. Read more here.
The Gitzo GT5543XLS Series 5 Systematic XL has an overall weight of 3.12kgs, comes with a 3/8″ screw, and has a maximum height of 190cm with a minimum height of 10cm.
The Series 5 is fitted with one spirit bubble level, and the leg angles can retract to 26°,55° and 89°. The minimum working temperature is -30oc, and the maximum working temperature is 70oc. The maximum payload is 40kg.
The GT5543XLS top casting can be configured with a flat disk, geared or sliding centre column, video half-ball adaptor or levelling base. The extra long size is new in the Series 5 for users requiring overhead height.
The Gitzo tripod range was originally built in France, where the company was initially founded. However, the company was sold to Manfrotto, an Italian company specialising in high-quality top-of-range tripods for beginners and professionals.
Depending on what type of sport you photograph and whether it’s in a congested or non-congested area, you need to think carefully about your equipment. For example, some photographers prefer to use a monopod because it’s easier to set up and move about, and there’s less risk of people tripping over it.
Unfortunately, monopods come with numerous disadvantages, such as camera shake. Monopods do not eliminate camera shake. Indeed they provide more stability and offer you an extra stop or three of light, but that’s about as far as it goes.
Furthermore, monopods aren’t as flexible as they’ve been made out to be. There are some shooting situations in which shooting with a monopod can be difficult. For example, shooting in vertical mode instead of horizontal is hard (unless you go for a swivel or ball head.
In this scenario, it’s always best to conduct a risk assessment before getting tooled up and heading out. Suppose there is a risk of someone tripping and seriously injuring themselves. In that case, it’s probably best to consult with senior event organisers to locate a spot where you can safely use your tripod.
Many professional sports photographers use tripods (three legs) instead of monopods (one leg). Most tripods will offer better stability and are great for capturing the scene. However, as mentioned, it’s best to consult with who owns the land you’re shooting on first because some stadiums ban tripods. In which case, you’re left with the not-so-reliable monopod or shooting handheld.
From my experience, big stadiums where sports photographers compete with one another and where you’re restricted to certain areas will limit and ban tripods. However, small amateur sporting events do occasionally allow for tripods.
For large sporting events where tripods are usually banned, it’s best to go handheld or invest in the black Steady Shot with Camera Vest from Cotton Carrier. With smaller events where you’re not competing with other photographers, and you’ve permission to use a tripod or monopod, from my experience, it would be wise to opt for the Gitzo GM4542 Series 4 4-Section Carbon Monopod.
Black Steady Shot With Camera Vest From Cotton Carrier
The black Steady Shot with Camera Vest from Cotton Carrier is a unique chest harness system that supports your camera, eliminating the neck strain usually associated with shooting long jobs such as weddings, sports, public relations and photojournalism. The system is designed for the photographer who carries a DSLR with a battery grip. The system comes complete with a camera tether that securely supports your camera and two hubs – one that tilts 15° and the other that hangs straight. Read more here.
The Steady Shot with Camera Vest from Cotton Carrier is a game changer for most amateur and professional photographers. The Steady Shot eliminates the tripod and monopod but still provides stability for professional sports photography jobs.
The Steady Shot allows photographers to carry 1 or 2 readily available and “locked in” cameras that eliminate neck and shoulder strain by placing weight on the person’s midsection. The Steady Shot is also ideal for most disabled sports photographers too.
The buckles are Nifco brand, and the clips are UTX. Hubs and plates are 60/61 rugged anodised aluminium. The Lexan receivers are produced with Lexan brand virgin black Lexan. Using materials like these ensures top quality and security for your cameras.
In addition, It provides not only comfortable but “steady” shooting and eliminates the “shake” generally associated with rapid action photography. This is especially valuable when photographing wildlife or sports.
Gitzo GM4542 Series 4 4-Section Carbon Monopod
The Gitzo GM4542 Series 4 4-Section Carbon Monopod is a rigid potable 4-section carbon fibre monopod with extreme stability for professional DSLRs with long lenses. The Gitzo GM4542 is robust and comes with a G lock ultra system. In addition, it captures moving subjects with an innovative pivoting foot, and it comes with removable feet that are easy to accessorise via 1/4″ and 3/8″ attachment. Read more here.
As with all Gitzo products, the Gitzo GM4542 Series 4 4-Section Carbon Monopod is made to exceptionally high standards. Most photographers will agree with me that Gitzo is by far one of the best tripod makers around.
The Gitzo GM4542 Series only weighs 0.68kgs, can support a payload of 30-35kgs, has a maximum height of 159cm, close length is 58cms and comes with four leg sections. This particular tripod is liked by most professional and amateur sports photographers and is priced at just under £400.
Gitzo claims that the GM452 is the best-balanced solution in its range, featuring 50mm rubber feet with a pivoting ball joint for a smooth movement that is perfect for capturing moving subjects. Moreover, unlike cheaper brands, it comes with a removable wrist strap and textured hand grip that absorbs and drains away hand sweat.
I purchased the Gitzo GM4542 when it was released, and it’s one of the best monopods I’ve used to date. Apart from being an excellent sporting tripod, I can easily fold it back up and slip it into my backpack or clip it to the side with ease.
It’s reliable, sturdy, robust, smooth and sleek. Moreover, it’s great for interior photography where traditional tripods are restricted or prohibited. I’ve used a range of heavy cameras and long prime lenses with this monopod and found image quality was the same as using a standard tripod system.
A tripod is an essential piece of equipment a photographer can own. That said, a tripod is not always required for photography; for example, when shooting up-close portraiture, fast sports, and fast-moving wildlife such as Kingfishers, Peregrine Falcons, Cheetahs, Leopards etc., photographers tend to handhold instead of using a tripod system.
Using a decent well-built tripod helps to improve your photography skills and overall image quality. A tripod can help slow your shutter speed down during low light photography, thus reducing blur and noise.
Moreover, a tripod is essential for creative long exposure and Astrophotography. Tripods offer improved stability and help to capture sharper images. Without a tripod, you’ll likely struggle with focusing, stacking, composition, HDR and framing.
Tripods help to slow us down too (which is a good thing) because most of us often rush our work. Setting up a tripod gives us more time to think, analyse and study what we’re looking at. When working at low elevations with a tripod. The tripod helps reduce trampling and damaging protected flora and small fauna underneath us.
Tripods help reduce the weight of heavy lenses and cameras. Photographers that suffer from hand tremors, arthritis, fibromyalgia, hand cramps, repetitive strain injury, dizziness, etc., may benefit more from using a tripod.
Professional and hobbyist photographers agree that a tripod is required for most landscape, portrait, real estate, architecture, macro, travel and product photography. In addition, tripods are essential for videography and photojournalism too.
There are many examples where you may find yourself prohibited from using a tripod system, such as in protected buildings, i.e. Kings College Chapel in Cambridge, England; in addition, in some cities in Continental Europe, I.e., Paris and Rome, you will need a permit to use a tripod in certain areas. Without one, you could face a hefty fine. Therefore, it’s essential to shop about and look for alternatives to a tripod or monopod, such as the Steady Shot with Camera Vest from Cotton Carrier or the Novoflex’s Chestpod.
Generally, I never purchase tripods online, especially not from Amazon, eBay or second-hand, or that look fancy with exotic brand names. Buying a tripod is not straightforward. There are many things to consider before trying and buying, such as:
- Weight: A lightweight tripod is essential for travelling. However, a heavier tripod may be more beneficial if you work in the studio
- Load: Before purchasing a tripod, you must understand how much weight it can bear. If you own or rent a heavy camera with heavy lenses, you need a strong tripod capable of holding that load
- Adjustable: An adjustable tripod is essential for macro, product, flora, and some landscape and wildlife projects at low elevations
- Height: A tripod should be tall enough to hold your camera steady at your eye level. Sixty inches is tall enough
- Elements: A robust tripod must be waterproof, rustproof, sand and dust resistant, and capable of working well in extreme heat and icy conditions
- Leg adjustments: 25, 55, and 89 degrees are crucial for low-level wildlife photography
- Extra features: Extra features are good; for example, the option to attach a small LED light is a bonus
- Folded length: You want to aim for a tripod that can fold down to around 90-100cm. The smaller, the better, in my opinion, because it’s so much easier to transport when travelling
- Bubble level: A tripod bubble level is a levelling device that shows how straight a tripod is standing. By aligning the bubble to the centre, you can guarantee the tripod head is sitting perpendicular to the ground. This helps to ensure your tripod is well balanced and makes the horizon lines in your photos appear straight.
- Type: If you’re shooting in protected areas or regions where tripods are banned, a monopod may be more suitable; however, it’s always best to check before buying
- Overall stability: A robust and well-designed tripod should be stable enough to take the load of a DSLR and mirrorless camera with long heavy prime lenses. Moreover, it should be strong enough to take a moderate gust of wind or a few accidental knocks. If your tripod struggles in a moderate breeze, it’s not a keeper
- Centre hooks: Centre hooks are not always essential; however, if you’re working in windy conditions or environments where you need to weigh your tripod down for more stability, you need a centre hook
- Knobs or levers: Each to their own; I prefer oversized strong but fluid levers because knobs tend to fail in cold and wet weather
- Head: Regardless of the genre, you need a robust, oversized head to fix your camera to the tripod frame that can be easily tightened and undone
- Leg sections: Three leg sections are better than four in my experience
- Ball-head: Most tripods come fitted with a ball head, but I prefer to look for a custom ball head that suits my needs. For example, I suffer from hand cramps, so twisty knobs are not best for me. Instead, levers work well. Look for a robust tripod head that can shoot vertically and horizontally with full tilt options. When buying third-party tripod heads, checking the maximum weight-bearing load is essential
- Price: Depending on your budget and whether you’re a professional or hobbyist, in my opinion, a tripod priced under £100 is an instant failure. I prefer mid-range starting from £300-£1000+. Your tripod must be capable of holding your expensive camera and lenses, not forgetting being able to perform
- Try before you buy: It’s essential to try before you buy. Many hire firms on the market allow you to rent photography equipment; therefore, try it, then buy it if you like it
- Don’t invalidate the warranty and get it insured: While it’s tempting to make a few modifications here and there or add extra pieces of kit onto the tripod. In doing so, you immediately invalidate the warranty. Furthermore, your insurance won’t cover it. Get it insured, don’t invalidate the contract, and maintain it regularly.
- Brand name: I tend to stick to brands I know, such as FLM, Gitzo and Vanguard. In my opinion and from experience, I think Germany, England, Italy and France make the best tripods
I hope you’ve found this article helpful and informative. I have decided not to include astrophotography tripods in this segment because there are many to choose from. However, I will be writing about Astrophotography in my next article and all the fantastic tech you should be looking at buying if you’re considering becoming an Astro-photographer.