Shopping for Camera Tripods
Camera tripods are among a photographer's most important accessories, offering that vital stability needed to take great shots. Tripods come in a range of styles and sizes, from compact table and travel tripods to heavy-duty models designed to hold cameras with weighty telephoto lenses.
Whether you're involved in landscape, still-life, portrait, or travel photography, acquiring the right tripod stand will help ensure you get the solid base needed to capture those lovely scenes in all their splendor.
Camera Tripods Explained
Tripods are three-legged stands that hold cameras in position, providing stability and elevation. They're especially important when taking long-exposure or low-light shots, in time-lapse photography, and for use with cameras featuring heavy bodies and/or lenses.
At the top of the tripod is a mounting head which connects with a threaded receptacle at the bottom of the camera. The head also includes mechanisms that allow you to pan (move horizontally) or tilt (move vertically).
These mechanisms are of two main types: ball heads and pan-tilt heads. Ball heads let you swivel the camera in any direction, while pan-tilt heads, with their separate controls for panning and tilting, offer more precise control of each axis. Also, tripods often feature a center post and braces on the tripod legs for added stability.
What Types of Tripods Are There?
You can find camera tripods in various styles and sizes, to suit every photographic endeavor. The smallest are tabletop and mini tripods, also known as table pods. Usually equipped with a fixed head and legs, they're under a foot in height. Due to their compact and lightweight forms, they make ideal travel tripods. Other models come with telescopic legs. The tripod leg sections lock into place using either twist locks or lever/clip locks. These offer great flexibility, and are easy to adjust and pack away.
Aluminum has long been the material of choice for tripod legs, owing to its lightness. However, some drawbacks may include heat conduction and rusting. Carbon fiber tripod legs have become a more popular choice, partly because they are even lighter and more portable than aluminum.
How to Select a Camera Tripod
When it comes to investing in a tripod stand, you'll have a wide choice including basic models, deluxe versions with padded legs, and models that come with tripod cases or bags. Weight, load capacity, and price are the main considerations. Be sure to think about whether it's tall enough to handle your needs and rugged enough to withstand tough shooting conditions. In addition, if you plan to use your tripod with a camcorder, you should pick a model with a pan-tilt head for smooth and stable panning.
Complete your tripod set-up with tripod accessories like tripod straps, cases, spikes, and more. Check out the vast array available at B&H Photo.