Tips & Tutorials

Exposure's Trusty Partner: The Tripod

Behind every sharp photograph, there is often a tripod. This reliable, silent partner plays an important role in supporting photographers everywhere. While tripods are certainly a handful, what with a camera in hand and a bag full of gear, they’re an indispensable accessory to have.
Let’s take a look at the top 4 occasions when tripods are a must!

Tripod and trigger by Mr. TinDC

Every photographer’s greatest fear is a blurry image (unless it’s intentional, of course). Pin-sharp photos require as little camera shake as possible, and there is only so much your arms, the camera, or its built-in lens’ stabiliser can do to rectify any unwanted blurring.

 
 

Image by Pierre Renes

This is where tripods come in handy! A good tripod helps to keep your camera steady, especially on uneven ground, or when the tiniest of shakes means disastrous results. (No one wants to see their favourite star as a blurry mess!) And with newer, compact and flexible tripods or monopods, you don’t even need to lug around a traditionally large and bulky piece anymore.
But we get it, having an extra accessory is still cumbersome no matter what — so we’ve narrowed down the four most important times tripods are indispensable.

A Wild Shot

Black Headed Gull in Flight by Aaron_EOS_Photography
EOS 7D/ EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM/ FL: 200mm/ f/2.8, 1/8000sec/ ISO 400

Getting the perfect wildlife shot often involves lots of waiting around – something that your arms shouldn’t suffer through. Using a tripod lets you concentrate on watching out for that important moment. All you have to do is press the shutter button.
Tip: Make sure your tripod has a gimbal head so that you have enough flexibility to follow your animal subject!

Slow and Steady

Waiting by Luke Petersen
EOS 7D/ EF17-40mm f/4L USM,/ FL: 17mm/ f/10, 30sec/ ISO 400

A tripod is almost always critical for a good long exposure shot. As explained in our other articles on exposure, long exposure photos require very slow shutter speeds. The camera shutter has to be kept open long enough to capture observable time lapses. This means that during your shot, the forming image will be extremely sensitive to any minute camera shakes and movements. Using a tripod reduces camera movement and improves picture quality!

Time to Get Close

Tips of Red by Gabriel F.W. Koch
EOS 5DS R/ EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM/ f/2.8, 1/80sec/ ISO 1000

Zooming in to your subject often requires quite a bit of skill. The slightest shake will send everything off-target and off-focus! When taking macro shots, your depth of field is often very restricted due to the greatly shortened focal length and widened aperture required to obtain a reasonably well-lit and close-up subject. Using a tripod reduces the risk of losing focus.

Go the Distance

Evening Lights by Darren Wong
EOS 70D/ EF50mm f/1.4 USM/ f/1.4, 1/80sec/ ISO 100

The same is true when using a telephoto lens for far-off subjects. The tiny vibrations and movements felt by the camera are greatly magnified by telephoto lenses, due to the high magnification value, where a tiny shift from your camera can swing the framed area to a very different spot in the distance. It in turn doesn’t help that most people’s arms begin to shake rather quickly from holding heavy objects on the spot. Not only does a tripod take away the burden of a heavy zoom lens, it also provides plenty of stability for sharper images, especially when you need to use a slower shutter.

 

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