If you have answered “yes” above, can I be your friend? If you have answered “no” then you are most likely going to need a tripod.
A tripod is arguably the most important piece of kit you can own excluding your camera. It is so important that depending on what you are shooting, not having one will basically inhibit your ability to shoot at all (e.g. astrophotography). I know, I know, you have done your research and have discovered the general principles of handheld photography. You know that to get a “sharp” image handheld you need to take the focal length of your lens and convert it into a fraction by adding a 1 on top (based on 35mm sensors). This means that if you are using a 300mm lens you need a minimum shutter speed of 1/300. You have also gone ahead and spent thousands of dollars on the most recent versions of IS or VR lenses to squeeze out the full image stabilization potential of your handheld photographs. Your photos now look amazing on the back of your camera LCD screen. All the detail and sharpness is there. When you get home however and view your files in your favorite image editing software you discover that the focus is actually quite a bit off. I guess you won’t be able to installed a 44″ print of Fuzzy in your living room anymore :*(. Even though you invested $10,000 in your camera gear Facebook and postcards will be the only place to display your work.
Leaving behind the dramatization above, here is a list of why you need a tripod:
- Image Sharpness – this one is a given.
- Improved Framing – now that you have to slow your trigger finger down a bit and set your camera on your tripod you might as well think a little about how you are framing your shot.
- Increased Image Quality – you know whats better than shooting at 12,500 ISO? Shooting at 100 ISO.
- Improved Creativity – similar to framing, if you need to setup a tripod why not explore the possibilities of locations, angles, etc.
- Opens up the World – just a few things you can now start shooting: night time “insert ANY subject here”, astrophotography, sports, wildlife, proper HDR, time-lapses, macro, action, panoramas etc.
- Improved Long Focal Length IQ – at high amplification camera shake will also be amplified so… don’t have camera shake?
- Timer – you can take self shots instead of having someone who doesn’t know the difference between a camera and a TV remote take them for you. On a more serious note, using a remote in combination with a tripod will also improve your image quality since you will not be touching anything causing micro vibrations.
- Burning Calories – hey it adds up over a lifetime.
- Self Defense – you now have a mace at your disposal if someone decides they want your gear or if a wild animals wants your lunch.
Now that you bought your tripod you can fully expect to get the above benefits. OH WAIT?! Your images still look like crap? How is that possible? Oh, you bought your tripod at Walmart for $10 and the legs have the same locking mechanism as your umbrella. Ah, I understand now. Part two of this post will include some information on the types of tripods available and which one is the right one for you.
Thanks for reading!