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8 Top Reasons To Use A Tripod When Taking Photos

Unsure if you need a tripod in your kit bag? This article will give you eight reasons why tripods are useful and help you decide if a support is something you really need for your photo-taking hobby.

|  Tripods, Monopods and Other Supports
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Wondering what the point of using a tripod is when your arms do a great job of holding your camera? Here are our eight reasons why you should consider popping a tripod on your 'must-have' photography kit list. 


1. A Tripod Frees Your Hands


Using a tripod leaves you to have your hands free, making it easier to tweak and adjust your lens, camera settings and composition. You can also set the camera up and move away from its position which means you can capture shy animals or position your tripod where you may not want to stand such as in a pool of water that sits in front of a waterfall


2. Helpful For Panning


If you want to create a sense of speed when capturing action shots such as cars racing around a track or bikes speeding around a course you'll want your sharp subject to be sat against a blurred background. To do this you need to pan your camera, following the subject as they move through your frame and although you can do this hand-held, some photographers find it easier to use a tripod or monopod to help them capture the perfect pan. Monopods can move with the turn of your body while if you choose to use a tripod, a pan or ball head will make the task easier.


3. Create Different Angles


By using a tripod, you can get to new higher or lower angles that you wouldn't be able to reach as easily or comfortably if working hand-held. For example, macro and flower photography is easier if you have a tripod where the centre column can be moved from zero to 180-degree angles. You can then use your camera facing the ground or at 90-degrees if you're shooting into a flowerbed. Some tripods also have special low lever legs and macro arms that mean you can position the camera at almost ground level. 


4. You Can Do Time Lapse Photography


Time-lapse photography is all about capturing a sequence of shots a few seconds, minutes, hours or even days apart. These shots are then combined to form a series of images that can be played back as a short video. As any movement of the camera will cause your final piece to appear jaunty you'll need a support for your camera. Take a look at this tutorial for more tips: Time Lapse Photography


5. Play Around With Longer Exposures 


If you're planning on taking photos at sunset or in the evening you'll need to use slower shutter speeds so enough light can reach the sensor for the image to expose correctly. But working with slower speeds hand-held can mean shake will blur your shot. A tripod will help reduce this and keep your hands free to hold a cup of tea when you're using really long exposures to capture evening shots such as light trails!

Don't think you just need your tripod in the evening though as to turn the movement of waterfalls, rivers and waves into smooth, dry ice-like textures, you'll need slower shutter speeds. 


6. Get Your Horizons Straight


Most tripods feature spirit levels which will show you if your tripod's straight and you can also buy spirit levels which can be clipped to your camera's hot shoe. Tripods also make it easier to adjust the position of your camera which in turn will move where the horizon sits in your shot. For more tips on why this is important, take a look at this article: Photographing Horizons


7. Capture Panoramas


Panoramas are created by stitching a series of shots together (either in-camera or during post-production) that you've captured by moving your camera from one side of the frame to the other, allowing for a little overlap between each frame. A tripod will keep your shots steady and level which means they'll be easier to stitch together if you're doing it manually. 


8. Shoot Self Portraits


Working with your arm outstretched so you can be in frame isn't practical and won't produce award-winning shots anytime soon. For this reason, it's important to have a support so you can frame up, ensuring your horizon is straight if out on location before you take your shot. The same goes for group shots at parties, weddings and other gatherings you attend where you want to be in the frame. It also means you can shoot self-portraits in the studio, leaving the camera framed-up on the spot you want to position yourself in once you've set the camera up. 


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JackAllTog Plus
13 6.4k 58 United Kingdom
6 Mar 2017 1:12PM
And it slows you down to force you to compose the shot.

As you mention longer exposure, the slower shutter speeds allow you to use a lower ISO setting for a given aperture - so you should get a better quality shot of near static subjects.
cosmicnode 12 28 England
7 Mar 2021 9:17AM
Never use a tripod for panning at a motor race. I have seen many try, give up and then hand hold. Cars travel to fast to be able to follow the action using a tripod. I have seen Tripods with long lenses on them being pointed at the end of a straight and the shot being taken at high shutter speed head on, no panning.
altitude50 18 22.6k United Kingdom
9 Mar 2022 7:56AM
I have been taking successful trackside shots of racing cars, racing motorcycles, moto-x and low flying aircraft for about 65 years and never considered using a tripod nor monopod, never taken one with me. The best technique is practice.

For example this was taken with a Sony RX 100 at 23mm 1/200, ISO 200, f11. The MacLaren was doing at least 100 mph - impossible image with a tripod.

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