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Photo Tips > Tripods

Why Use a Tripod?

More Shutter Speeds & Lens Openings

Your camera has a tremendous range of shutter speeds and lens openings.

However, you can use only part of the range when hand-holding your camera.

Put your camera on a tripod, and you can use just about any shutter speed and lens opening.

Large Focal Lengths

If you're using a 400mm or greater lens, use a tripod.

Framing & Composition

A tripod allows you to frame and compose precisely.

Because the camera is stationary, the image in the viewfinder is more easily studied.

The Fantasy Tripod

The fantasy tripod:

• Is stable.

• Is sturdy.

• Can hold point-and-shoot cameras as well as the heaviest DSLR.

• Is light weight

• Is easy to open and collapse

• Extends so your camera is at eye level.

• Has enough leg sections so that when collapsed, it doesn't take up much room.

• Has a ball-and-socket head for quick re-aiming of one's camera, in contrast to a pan-and-tilt head

• Has a quick-release plate for the easy attachment of your camera

• Has a center column that can be used upside down or sideways, for macro (close-up) photography.

• Has a center column that moves up-and-down with a crank.

• Sand and dirt won't become trapped in the locking mechanisms of the legs.

• Costs only $29.95.

• Appears or disappears when you clap your hands twice.

The Reality Tripod

The fantasy tripod only exists if you own several different tripods.

You can't get all of those features in one tripod.

You must pick-and-choose among the features above.

Add Mass

The camera is more stable when you add mass to the tripod and camera combination.

You may want to hand your camera bag from the tripod, as long as it isn't windy.

Tripods Have Legs & Heads

When you buy a tripod under, about $150, you'll get the legs and the head.

A tripod head is what attaches the camera to the legs.

When you buy a more expensive tripod, you'll only get the legs.

You need to buy the head that matches your needs.

A head may be a ball-and-socket type.

You release a lever, adjust the camera position, and tighten the lever.

A tripod head may also be a pan-and-tilt type.

There are two levers to position the camera on two axes.

There are specialty heads, such as those for doing panoramic or stereo photographs.

Use a Remote

When using a tripod, and slow shutter speeds, trip the shutter with a remote or your camera's self-timer.

Turn Off Image Stabilization?

Your lens may have image stabilization (IS) or vibration reduction (VR).

If so, turn it off when using long exposures.

Otherwise, the lens may shift during the exposure, causing blur.

Some cameras can detect when you're using a tripod.

If your camera does this, there's no need to turn off the image stabilization.

Tripod Manufacturers


Berlebach Wood



Joby Gorillapod






Arca Swiss No website

Kirk Enterprises


Nodal Ninja Panoramic heads

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