November 19, 2008

Quick Tripod Tips

If you use a tripod, get in the habit of tightening and checking all the tripod and head knobs in exactly the same order every time you set up and break down your tripod. Practice setting it up and mounting a camera to it during times when you haven’t been shooting for a while. Above all, if you own a tripod, carry it everywhere you go with your camera. No matter how stable, how solid, or how perfect your tripod, it can’t help you if you don’t bring it along.

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This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store

Join the conversation! 36 Comments

  1. i seriously need to get a tripod …
    scott has been talking about the importance of tripods for so long now … and i still haven’t got one …
    this month i’ll buy myself a good tripod …

    Reply
  2. i seriously need to get a tripod …
    scott has been talking about the importance of tripods for so long now … and i still haven’t got one …
    this month i’ll buy myself a good tripod …

    Reply
  3. Interesting, Ken Rockwell has the exact opposite opinion about tripods: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/digital-killed-my-tripod.htm

    I think there is a happen medium. Cheers.

    Reply
  4. Interesting, Ken Rockwell has the exact opposite opinion about tripods: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/digital-killed-my-tripod.htm

    I think there is a happen medium. Cheers.

    Reply
  5. @subcorpus I generally consider it a good thing when my opinion is different from Ken’s.

    Reply
  6. @subcorpus I generally consider it a good thing when my opinion is different from Ken’s.

    Reply
  7. I found the TrekPod Go from Trek-Tech.com to be my happy medium

    Reply
  8. @Kevin I don’t agree with that article, I think a lightweight tripod should be part of everyones “carry around” kit. The extra weight of having it with you pays off if your using larger telephoto or macro lenses as you don’t have to hand hold the kit.

    Thanks for the tip Scott, keep ‘em coming!

    Reply
  9. @Kevin I don’t agree with that article, I think a lightweight tripod should be part of everyones “carry around” kit. The extra weight of having it with you pays off if your using larger telephoto or macro lenses as you don’t have to hand hold the kit.

    Thanks for the tip Scott, keep ‘em coming!

    Reply
  10. That is soooooo true! The times I thought “oh, I can go without” were the times I was kicking my self! I just recently put my tripod in my truck so that I DON’T forget it! I also just bought a mini gorilla pod…it was a lot more mini than I expected…but now I have something in my camera bag at all times too! :-)

    Reply
  11. That is soooooo true! The times I thought “oh, I can go without” were the times I was kicking my self! I just recently put my tripod in my truck so that I DON’T forget it! I also just bought a mini gorilla pod…it was a lot more mini than I expected…but now I have something in my camera bag at all times too! :-)

    Reply
  12. @Kevin, Ken Rockwell must have a very steady hand compared to the rest of us because I’ve never been able to get a clear moon shot handheld!

    Reply
  13. @Kevin, Ken Rockwell must have a very steady hand compared to the rest of us because I’ve never been able to get a clear moon shot handheld!

    Reply
  14. My in-laws got me a pretty nice one last christmas. I cannot seem to locate it since our last trip to their house though. I might have to cave and get a new one. Of course i do’ need something like your gimbal head arrangement or the Sigma, Scott. But using my Novoflex 400mm would be nice on one once in a while. Then people would REALLY think it was a gun!

    Reply
  15. The one thing I would add is whatever tripod you end up buying make sure it fits your needs the FIRST TIME. Thinking you will upgrade to a better one at a later date only ends in regret that you didn’t make the investment in a good one to start with. After several “camera shop” tripods I finally went and got myself a Gitzo and can honestly say there is no comparison. If you already spent the money on expensive gear, you better not pick a cheap piece of crap model tripod to stabilize it upon.

    Reply
  16. The one thing I would add is whatever tripod you end up buying make sure it fits your needs the FIRST TIME. Thinking you will upgrade to a better one at a later date only ends in regret that you didn’t make the investment in a good one to start with. After several “camera shop” tripods I finally went and got myself a Gitzo and can honestly say there is no comparison. If you already spent the money on expensive gear, you better not pick a cheap piece of crap model tripod to stabilize it upon.

    Reply
  17. @scott Greatest comment I have read in days. Ken is a fun read, but I dont agree often.

    As for making a routine in the way you set up your tripod, I could not agree more. I used to haphazardly set up my tripod and it cost me my Canon Elan. I had just used the tripod, left the legs extended as I was only moving about10 yards away, and set it back down. Did not realize that I had knocked one of my leg clamps loose and the whole thing tipped over the second I turned loose, taking the camera for a nice fall. Then I bought a better tripod and started checking all knobs, levers and clamps every time I use it, and all in the same order so I know I checked it.

    Reply
  18. @scott Greatest comment I have read in days. Ken is a fun read, but I dont agree often.

    As for making a routine in the way you set up your tripod, I could not agree more. I used to haphazardly set up my tripod and it cost me my Canon Elan. I had just used the tripod, left the legs extended as I was only moving about10 yards away, and set it back down. Did not realize that I had knocked one of my leg clamps loose and the whole thing tipped over the second I turned loose, taking the camera for a nice fall. Then I bought a better tripod and started checking all knobs, levers and clamps every time I use it, and all in the same order so I know I checked it.

    Reply
  19. Ken Rockwell may say that we don’t need a tripod, but maybe I don’t always want to shoot at ISO 1600!

    Reply
  20. Kens point makes no sense. You can still shoot at f8 while the cameras on a tirpod right? The idea that a camera experiencing no movement will take a sharper photo than one experiencing no movement is physics… not opinion. Good tip Scott.

    Reply
  21. Kens point makes no sense. You can still shoot at f8 while the cameras on a tirpod right? The idea that a camera experiencing no movement will take a sharper photo than one experiencing no movement is physics… not opinion. Good tip Scott.

    Reply
  22. @Gregg, I completely agree – buy a good one to begin with. I didn’t buy the absolute top of the line one like a Gitzo (next thing on the list to buy) – but before my current Manfrotto, I had a horribly cheap one bought at BestBuy before I knew any better, and there is NOTHING like putting $2500 worth of equipment on a tripod, hear the clank of a lilting head (or worse) to make you ‘do not pass go, do not collect $200′ to the nearest reputable camera store to buy a good one.

    I resisted using a tripod for a long time, because a) I had the crappy one which was difficult to use and not stable enough, and b) I always felt restricted in using one. Once I got used to using a good one suited to my shooting and equipment, it actually helped expand what I was able to shoot. The amount of sharpness gained by stable camera support is really remarkable IMO.

    Ken Rockwell, as per usual, is totally offbase…nothin’ new there I guess :P

    Reply
  23. @Gregg, I completely agree – buy a good one to begin with. I didn’t buy the absolute top of the line one like a Gitzo (next thing on the list to buy) – but before my current Manfrotto, I had a horribly cheap one bought at BestBuy before I knew any better, and there is NOTHING like putting $2500 worth of equipment on a tripod, hear the clank of a lilting head (or worse) to make you ‘do not pass go, do not collect $200′ to the nearest reputable camera store to buy a good one.

    I resisted using a tripod for a long time, because a) I had the crappy one which was difficult to use and not stable enough, and b) I always felt restricted in using one. Once I got used to using a good one suited to my shooting and equipment, it actually helped expand what I was able to shoot. The amount of sharpness gained by stable camera support is really remarkable IMO.

    Ken Rockwell, as per usual, is totally offbase…nothin’ new there I guess :P

    Reply
  24. Great tip from Scott; remarkable volume of comments from others. The latter implies the obvious: we all know we should be using tripods more often – and most of us hate bother carrying and setting up the things.

    But Scott is painfully right: “it can’t help you if you don’t bring it along.” And Ken Rockwell’s “tip” is the siren’s song for photos that look great in the LCD of a camera but horrible when viewed on the PC screen or in a print.

    Reply
  25. Great tip from Scott; remarkable volume of comments from others. The latter implies the obvious: we all know we should be using tripods more often – and most of us hate bother carrying and setting up the things.

    But Scott is painfully right: “it can’t help you if you don’t bring it along.” And Ken Rockwell’s “tip” is the siren’s song for photos that look great in the LCD of a camera but horrible when viewed on the PC screen or in a print.

    Reply
  26. I shoot landscapes. My tripod helps me make better art, regardless of the shutter speed. A mounted camera with remote shutter release allows me to move naturally and be in the landscape that I’m portraying. It allows me to slow down and carefully compose my picture. I can easily watch for optimal lighting or surf patterns or air currents, and use the remote trigger to get the image I want.

    By the way, I’m using an old cheap Slik tripod. Small and lightweight. I hope to upgrade soon.

    Reply
  27. Hmm… in response to the ken rockwell article, I think it’s very misleading. True, I agree that there is less of a reason in the digital age to use tripod to get sharp images, because of IS/VR, high ISO performance yada yada…

    BUT that’s not the only reason for a tripod! I do primarily wild landscapes, and for me, besides getting sharp images, it’s about SLOWING you down when you shoot. Having a tripod forces me to think twice if the image works before pressing the shutter. It prevents me from randomly shooting many many average shots – because I put in more effort into composing an image with a tripod. So that’s the big reason to use a tripod in the digital age… it’s about slowing down the image-taking process such that you think through carefully before snapping.

    Of course, in landscape, I also tend to use the lowest ISO speed, and stop down the lens to about f11-f13 (depending on camera), and in dawn or dusk, that shutter speed will be slow enough that tripod really helps too.

    Reply
  28. Ken’s latest rant is that digital is a fad and film is making a comeback. Still he has some very useful info.

    @Ian Ho, my tripod is Bogen (Manfrotto) 3221 and a 3057 3-way pan / tilt head. I bought it ~ 15 yrs ago when I was first learning photography. My mentor expressly wanted me to have the pan-tilt head because it would make me slow down.

    Reply
  29. Bogen / Manfrotto 055XWNB Tripod Legs (Black) with 486RC2 Compact Ballhead (Quick Release) .. a great STEAL – ballhead kit for ~$250 – i just “upgraded” to this from the cheapie, and i absolutely love it! money well-spent.

    Reply
  30. Bogen / Manfrotto 055XWNB Tripod Legs (Black) with 486RC2 Compact Ballhead (Quick Release) .. a great STEAL – ballhead kit for ~$250 – i just “upgraded” to this from the cheapie, and i absolutely love it! money well-spent.

    Reply
  31. [...] me to get very sharp, accurate results that were otherwise not possible as I began to lose light. This short blog post on TWiP has some very useful tips on tripod [...]

    Reply
  32. [...] me to get very sharp, accurate results that were otherwise not possible as I began to lose light. This short blog post on TWiP has some very useful tips on tripod [...]

    Reply
  33. I really don’t understand the Ken Rockwell article. There seems to be a few instances of spurious logic going on there. Especially the part about people using tripods because other people told them to or to look like a “big shot”. I certainly don’t use tripods to look like a big shot, I’d rather leave it behind if I could. He starts out saying tripods are totally unnecessary then starts pointing out several caveats to that position well into the article.

    Reply
  34. I really don’t understand the Ken Rockwell article. There seems to be a few instances of spurious logic going on there. Especially the part about people using tripods because other people told them to or to look like a “big shot”. I certainly don’t use tripods to look like a big shot, I’d rather leave it behind if I could. He starts out saying tripods are totally unnecessary then starts pointing out several caveats to that position well into the article.

    Reply
  35. Ah,
    Ken Rockwell is well known for his explicit point of views! It is part of the success of his blog. I myself go there regularly just to get a good read on what he’s ranting next… Indeed, there is no single unexploited opportunity in his articles lately to mention how much better film is than digital… ;-) Although he certainly has a point, it makes no sense rambling on about it and expecting digital to go out of fashion again.

    What I’m trying to say is: take what the man writes with a large grain of salt. In most of his articles there is always some kind of point that makes sense, sometimes even more than one, but it doesn’t mean that his whole opinion on the subject is defacto correct either.
    But don’t throw away the kid with the bath wather: there are some good articles on his site and some good info’s too.

    You DO need a good tripod. Even with a D3/D700 you still have use for a good one. Having better iso capability has nothing to do with the need for a tripod or not.

    Reply
  36. Ah,
    Ken Rockwell is well known for his explicit point of views! It is part of the success of his blog. I myself go there regularly just to get a good read on what he’s ranting next… Indeed, there is no single unexploited opportunity in his articles lately to mention how much better film is than digital… ;-) Although he certainly has a point, it makes no sense rambling on about it and expecting digital to go out of fashion again.

    What I’m trying to say is: take what the man writes with a large grain of salt. In most of his articles there is always some kind of point that makes sense, sometimes even more than one, but it doesn’t mean that his whole opinion on the subject is defacto correct either.
    But don’t throw away the kid with the bath wather: there are some good articles on his site and some good info’s too.

    You DO need a good tripod. Even with a D3/D700 you still have use for a good one. Having better iso capability has nothing to do with the need for a tripod or not.

    Reply

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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