I recently wrote a post about why a great tripod can make a great image, and went a little in-depth into selecting a great tripod, but not the reasons for actually using one … so here we go.
A steady shot means no camera shake
Tripods are excellent for keeping your camera steady, especially in low light situations. A great tripod is perfect for getting your camera steady and completely eliminating camera shake without the need to have an incredibly high ISO. When combining a tripod and a wireless shutter trigger it is possible to have perfectly crisp images from your camera.
However, if your tripod is not designed to hold the weight of your chosen camera and lens, it can let you down.
Of course, tripods are great for long exposures where it just isn’t possible to hold the camera. But if you are anything like me out in the field, I tend to shake a little when I am cold, especially for early morning sunrises. Adding to this, I am not as steady as I would like, and I rarely shoot under 1/100s when I handhold my camera for that reason. I am sure I am not alone — even the slightest camera shake can take a great image down to a blurry mess.
A straight horizon
Another area I find that a great tripod helps is with keeping horizon a straight line. Using a tripod, especially one with a built-in level, is a great way to achieve a perfectly straight horizon line. When used with the camera’s built-in level (if you have one), it’s so easy to achieve.
Keeping things consistent
Another area that a tripod can help make a great image is with consistency. If you are shooting a panorama and wish to maintain a consistent horizon line, a great tripod can really help. Especially if you have one with a built-in or add on a slide.
I find it’s not as easy as it should be to obtain the exact same level from one photo to the next if it is handheld. There are often slight movements you make with your hands and body when you change focal point or even adjusting settings. Even in the studio, when shooting still life or macro, I find I like the consistency I can obtain from a series of shots if the camera stays still and I move my subjects around in the frame.
When it comes to light painting, I need the camera to stay in exactly the same position for consistency for editing. Any slight movement can ruin an image, or take extra time to edit.
Saves your back and keeps you safe
I find a great tripod can help save your back if, like me, you love a great flat lay still life shot. Standing on a stool or holding the camera above your head, is not only dangerous, but it can also be difficult to maintain a great shoot. Plus I always used to end up with a sore back, same goes for constantly bending down.
Setting up a tripod with an adjustable arm can make easy work of a flat lay. Add tethering to a PC or tablet to this and you can remotely set up and shoot without the need to touch your camera, allowing you to move your subject around to fit within your required frame. Saves time and your back, plus makes things so much safer in the studio.
Like an extra set of hands
My last and favorite reason for using a tripod is it is like having an extra set of hands in the studio. By putting your camera on a tripod you get not only get consistency in your shot, but your camera is also safely locked onto your tripod. Additionally, by using a remote trigger you can set up your shot and focus and then without the need to touch your camera you can make those minute adjustments to items in the frame and take images easily and confidently.
A cheap tripod can perhaps do some of these, but not all. Add to that your tripod needs to be sturdy and strong enough to suit your chosen camera and leans, and have the option to change heads, add additional gadgets; sliders for panorama or macro, or swivel and extendible arms and even work with L brackets … then doing some research on your next tripod is essential.