Taking photos hand-held gives a sense of freedom. You can go wherever you want, never missing a photo opportunity again. However, there are many instances where you'd get an even better result using a tripod. With a tripod, you can prevent the vibrations that cause motion blur. You can choose between a three-legged tripod or a one-legged tripod: the monopod.
Hand-held photographing feels easy and familiar, yet professional photographers often make use of tripods and monopods. This is because there are a number of circumstances where using a tripod is essential for achieving the best results. Wouldn't it be useful if there was a guiding principle of when to use a tripod? You're in luck: there is! In a nutshell, it is as follows: if the shutter speed is slower than the focal length of the lens, it is wise to use a tripod.
So, if you are using a 300mm lens and the exposure meter indicates that the shutter speed should be 1/300 second, then it is best to use a tripod if the shutter speed is slower than indicated. And with a 50mm lens, use a tripod if the shutter speed is slower than 1/50th of a second.
But under what circumstances can you really not go without a tripod? At times when you have to keep your camera completely still, such as: sunrise and sunset and night shots; HDR, interior, nature and wildlife photography; action and sports photography, telephotography, panorama photography and much more! We explain below:
Sunrise, sunset and night shots
Of course you always want maximum depth of field, but because the light conditions are poor around these times, the camera will require a slow shutter speed. If you take handheld photos at these times, you will likely end up with a blurry photo. Even if your photo seems to have worked out when you look at it on your LCD display - when you come home and look at it on a large display there's a good chance you'll be disappointed. We recommend using a tripod when photographing at night or during sunsets and sunrises.
Many photographers enjoy High Dynamic Range photography. In HDR photography, you deal with different exposures of the same subject. A tripod offers the perfect solution.
The slow shutter speeds needed in interior photography make the use of a tripod inevitable. It will allow you to achieve the best compositions, because it completely eliminates the chances of motion blur.
Nature and wildlife photography
If you mount your camera to a tripod in advance, you can focus completely on your subject, which can appear at any moment. Thanks to a tripod, you are fully prepared and you can also use a slower shutter speed if you are unexpectedly far away from your subject.
Incidentally, it is not just with nature and wildlife photography that it is advisable to consider your composition carefully in advance. Good preparation and ensuring the optimal camera settings improve any photo!
Action and sports photography
In action and sports photography, your subject is rarely not moving. To be able to follow the subject in a smooth motion, you will need to use a tripod.
Because of their height and weight, telephoto lenses are difficult to use if you want to make photos hand-held. The smallest vibrations you cause are magnified, because of the length of the lens. With a tripod, you can prevent exactly those small movements.
If you want to make impressive panorama photos, you will certainly need a tripod. This will also allow you to use the camera horizontally, so that you can arrange all the photos nicely next to each other.
And much more
There are of course many other instances where you need to use a tripod. Product photography, portraits, still lifes, macro photography and studio photography are a few examples.
Buying a tripod
We have determined that a tripod and/or a monopod is an important addition to a photographer's gear. They come in many shapes and sizes and the prices vary greatly.
You don't necessarily have to spend a fortune to have a good tripod. There are tripods that are relatively cheap, but still meet your requirements. For example, many tripods have a hook to attach extra weight to, to achieve maximum stability. A monopod is very useful if it's not possible to use a tripod, because the ground is too uneven for instance. A monopod is not nearly as stable as a tripod, but the final result will still be much better than when taking hand-held pictures!
Which tripod head
When buying a tripod, you also have to consider which tripod head is required. There are roughly two types: a swivel head and a ball head. Which one works best for you, depends on the type of photography that you are into. A swivel head has three separate buttons for adjusting the vertical and horizontal axes, while a ball head can turn in all directions. Each type has advantages and disadvantages and both are widely used by photographers. In general, it can be said that a ball head offers a bit more stability and can carry a heavier camera than a swivel head.
Whether you opt for a swivel or ball head, a quick-release plate for easily attaching and removing your camera is an absolute must. If you are using a monopod, a ball head is the best option. With a ball head, you won't have to keep attaching and removing your camera on the flat top of the monopod.
In conclusion, using a tripod or a monopod adds an extra dimension to your photography experience. Your photos will not only become clearer, but the amount of photo opportunities will also increase considerably. Check out all tripods.