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Finding the Right Tripod

By Ed Chop

The most important thing to look for in a tripod is sturdiness. Remember, the reason you need a tripod is to keep your camera steady, so it should be stable. Beyond that, you need to consider what you will be using it for. Is it for traveling, studio work, nature or whatever?

For travel, you need something light and compact. But you need it large enough to extend to the height you will need. You will probably need to compromise a bit. However, there are some very good models designed just for the traveler with minimal compromise.

For studio work, you can manage a large, heavy tripod. A lot will depend on the size of the camera you will use. With a larger camera you will obviously need a larger tripod and, of course, you can get by with a smaller one for a 35mm camera. But weight is not a problem, so you can get a heavier tripod than one that you would for travel.

A tripod for nature photography must be light, compact and rugged. It should be able to raise high and get down low. The lower the better. The Benbo line, for example, will get right down to the ground. It should have plenty of adjustments. You will be using it in rough terrain most times, so it should be stable in as many adjustable configurations as possible.

Any tripod should have a head that can be adjusted to several positions. A removable, quick release head is a nice option. Many tripods are sold without heads, which are sold separately. A wide variety of heads for different applications is available. The legs, as well as the head, should be easily adustable for quick setup.

And, of course, price will be a deciding factor. You can pay $25 or several hundred. Generally, you get what you pay for, though there are some very good budget tripods available. A general purpose tripod will be a compromise. But sturdiness, adjustabilty, stability and ease of use are the important considerations no matter what your intended use.

And don't forget about monopods, one leg stands for your camera. They are great for times when a light, compact support is needed for your camera. You wouldn't want to use one for long exposures, say for photographing fireworks, but when you need some extra support in natural light situations they can fill the bill. It helps you hold the camera much more steady than hand held, yet allows quick and easy mobility.

Check B&H Camera or Porter's for good selections of tripods. If you are serious about photography, expect to spend over $100 for a good tripod.

Editor and Webmaster - Edward Chop. Your comments and questions are welcomed.
Copyright © 2000 Edward Chop. All Rights Reserved.

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