Tip Number 1 - Buy A Tripod That You Will Use
It is easy to end up buying a tripod that is so heavy or impractical that it never leaves your house. It is all very well thinking that the tripod is lovely to use and portable in the shop or when you're looking at it online, but the reality can be very different when you're actually walking with it.
Tripods come in all sizes, styles and budget levels. Aluminium tripods, for example, are cheaper than carbon-fibre models, however they are heavier and tend to be colder to the touch. If you do really want to travel light, you could always consider investing in a monopod. There are plenty of styles out there but one popular type are those found in Manfrotto's 190 series
. There's a wide range of models available which makes them a popular choice for hobbyists right up to pro level.
Tip Number 2 - What To Look At When Buying A Tripod
Extend them fully and make sure they go to the height you need or if you're shopping online, look for this information in the specifications.
Not all tripods come with one, but most do. Optional heads
are made by Manfrotto. Look at how the camera locks into position. Are the locks positive? Is the head as good shooting vertical-format images as it is with horizontal ones? Etc.
The Quick Release System
Many tripod heads have a quick release system with a plate
that you can leave permanently in position on the camera. Check how solid the quick release system is and how easy it is to use. Metal ones offer greater stability but regardless of the material, make sure the plate securely fixes to your camera.
The Leg Locks
Legs locks should be comfortable and quick to use as well as secure. There are two main types: twist grip or lever lock. Twist grip locks can be slightly uncomfortable to use but are very secure while lever locks are fast to use but may need checking every so often to make sure they lock tight.
Most tripods have rubber feet
, but some do have spiked feet. Spiked feet
can be bought as optional accessories or sometimes you can get both types in one.
Other Points To Consider:
- Construction material
- Height (folded, minimum and maximum)
- Maximum supported weight
Tip Number 3 - How To Carry Your Tripod
This can be done either by strapping it to your photo rucksack, in a bag with a strap or with a tripod strap. Manfrotto offers bags and carrying straps
, but if you own a photo rucksack you might find that it came with the appropriate accessories.
Tip Number 4 – How To Keep Your Remote Release Secure
If you use a cable remote release get some Velcro fastening and use it to hold the control unit in place during long exposures. It is better than the remote just hanging down which might cause tension on the connections or, if the wind is strong, cause the release to bang against the tripod and blur your images. This arrangement is only for temporary holding of the remote release during exposure and is not advised to hold the release in place when you're carrying the tripod around.
Tip Number 5 – Setting Up Your Tripod
Before setting up, make sure you are completely happy with your location as if you change your mind about the composition once you've set your tripod up, it can take you some time (and be rather annoying) to have to put it away again to move positions.
When setting up, extend the legs before extending the centre column. Extending just the centre column is quick but it is not good technique and won't offer as much stability as adjusting the legs first will. Extend the fattest leg section first then if you really need the height, extend the thinner parts of the legs.
For extra stability, hang your camera bag or another heavy object from the centre column. Many tripods actually come with hooks fitted so you can hang items from it. If it's a really windy day, however you may find the object moves too much and actually knocks your tripod, causing shake, instead of helping support it.
Many tripods and tripod heads, such as those found in Manfrotto's 055 Series
, have built-in spirit levels to help you keep the tripod level. If yours hasn't buy a spirit level to fit into the camera's accessory shoe.