Use a Tripod to Boost Image Quality, Composition and Creativity


At, I've seen many photographers improve the overall quality of their work, thanks to the regular use of this valuable accessory: the tripod.

When I started using a tripod consistently for stationary subjects, two awesome things happened: 1)  using a tripod regularly soon became a habit; and better still, 2) my photography improved immediately.

I've heard this same story from so many other photographers. And this will work for you too!

Of course, when shooting candids, action, etc., a tripod just gets in the way. When photographing at busy tourist sites and special events, the tripod is often impractical. And in some museums and other venues, a tripod may even be prohibited. But whenever possible, using a tripod...

  • keeps the camera steady for the ultimate in image sharpness;
  • allows you to slow down and fine-tune your compositions;
  • permits long exposures for creative effects when shooting moving subjects;
  • lets you work in low light without racking up the ISO to an unacceptably noisy level;
  • permits the use of small apertures (high f-numbers and, thus, slower shutter speeds) for more front-to-back sharpness (depth of field).

 Jim Miotke shoots with his tripod-mounted camera, in St. Augustine, Florida. 

 Photo © by Kerry Drager

 A good tripod provides good support and is a pleasure to use. So if yours is too flimsy or too clumsy, here are some buying tips:

 • Make sure the tripod you buy can handle your heaviest camera/lens combination. When shopping in-store,  set up the tripod you're interested in, work the controls, and verify that it's sturdy enough. If shopping online, confirm the maximum recommended weight that both the legs and head can carry.

• Consider buying carbon-fiber legs. They're very strong, yet far lighter in weight than the traditional heavy metal ones.

• Be sure the tripod head has a quick-release mechanism for ease in attaching and removing your camera.

• A remote cable release or similar accessory keeps your hand off the camera to prevent possible vibration during long exposures and/or when shooting with a big telephoto or macro lens.

• If you do a lot of ground level close-up work, you'll want a tripod that goes low. Online, the tripod specifications indicate how low the model goes—and also how high it extends (important if you're tall!). Shopping in person? You'll have fun checking out the tripod for yourself!

Shooting Tip: If you have an image-stabilized lens, you may need to turn the feature off when photographing with a tripod. Consult the lens's user manual for your particular lens.