A tripod is a quintessential photography equipment if you’re into absolute pictures quality. It does not really matter whether you’re a studio photographer or shoot mostly outdoors, a tripod is perfect for most circumstances. It’s an accessory that at times can be as important as a ND filter on a bright day. A tripod essentially helps you to shoot pictures with a longer shutter speed and avoid camera jerks or motion blur when shooting. Say you’re shooting the picture of a waterfall and you need a blurry milky white effect of the water captured on the frame. Evidently you will need a longer shutter speed of say 1/4th of a second or even less (depending on the lighting condition). It is almost impossible to hand hold a shot of 1/4th of a second or less even if you’re have very steady hands. A tripod is perfect in such circumstances which will relieve the stress out of the job and allow you to capture that moment with ease. Again when you’re photographing the skyline of a city at night or want to create motion blur by capturing the lights of incoming vehicles on the frame using a longer exposure you will need a tripod. It will ensure the picture won’t appear blurred or soft.
Having said all that a tripod can also be a cumbersome and heavy accessory to carry with for long periods of time. The better quality tripods are made of aluminum and carbon fiber composite materials which even though are light, when carried for long periods of time can feel a bit heavy on the shoulders. But at the end of the day most professional photographers find the labor a small trade-off for the final quality of the images obtained.
Any tripod should basically have the following parts. Legs – which span to keep the whole structure firmly placed on the ground; the head which supports the digital camera or the lens (in case of tele lenses a special tripod mount ring is available); the central structure which can extend to further the reach of the tripod head; and the feet of the tripod, which in more expensive models are changeable to allow for better grip depending on the kind of surface that the tripod is placed on. There are tripods which are available with interchangeable heads which allow the photographers to use a head that he needs (ball head, pistol grips and so on). The maximum weight carrying capacity of the tripod should be considered as well because if one is using a professional body along with expensive lenses, the overall weight that is mounted can be more than 2 kilos easily. Care should also be taken to ensure that the tripod installs fast and without much hassle. No one likes to be spending a lot of time trying to install the tripod and miss the moment in the process.
When buying a tripod care should be taken to check the material that is used to make it. Carbon fiber often is the preferred material for two reasons. First they are very sturdy and can support a lot of weight and second they are lightweight which makes them easy to carry around.
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