Learn more about Camera Tripods
Camera tripods are considered to be one of the most important tools for any photographer or videographer. While they all look similar and simple, there’s a lot more that every creator needs to look at while making a purchase decision about this important tool.
Before making a purchase, one needs to know what a camera tripod is and how it will be helpful to them. Also, they will need to know about everything that they should be looking at while purchasing a tripod. So, let’s just go through everything here and make your purchase decision easier.
What components create a complete tripod?
Three main components will create a complete tripod. If you want to count legs and feet as different components, then we can say that there are four main components. Keeping the number aside for the moment, it is essential to know that without all these components, a tripod cannot be complete as they all work together to give you the desired results.
As we go from the top to the bottom, the first component of any camera tripod is the Tripod Head. The majority of tripods available in the market will come with one head – which is usually a ball head or a pan-tilt head. Fluid heads can be found with some heavy-duty video tripods – or can be easily bought separately. However, these are not the only heads available for a tripod.
Having tripod heads is essential as this is where you will be usually having your mount plate to mount your camera. Also, some of the smooth camera movement that is seen in videos can be done directly by using one of these heads – fluid heads being the most popular choice here.
As the name suggests, this exists in the center of the tripod. Center Column is an additional leg that is connected with the head – and it can be used to raise the height of any tripod. You can use this to achieve an eye-level view which can create some great results.
However, if you don’t need it, it is better to avoid using this to raise the height as it can sometimes be a little unstable. To add more stability to the tripods, some manufacturers provide a hook at the bottom of the center column where you can also attach sandbags.
Legs and Feet
For camera tripods, the legs and feet are what make it complete. Also, the name tripod itself comes into existence as they have three legs with the feet that are attached at the bottom. While some manufacturers will allow you to change feet to metal spikes for outdoor usage, others might have them permanently attached to the legs.
The combination of the tripod legs and feet is what helps any tripod achieve the stability it needs. Without having good quality legs and feet, the tripod might be unstable in certain scenarios – which will ruin the purpose of owning one.
Things to keep in mind while buying a Camera Tripod
While looking at the camera tripods on an e-commerce store, it might be tempting to get the one that is priced under USD 50. And while that might get the job done in the short run, you will eventually have to upgrade to something better – if you are looking to use this tool professionally.
That is the reason it is usually recommended to get a better tripod while making the first purchase. It doesn’t really have to be the one that costs USD 500 or above. But it can surely be the one which can be bought around USD 200 – and that can typically last you a lot longer than a fifty-dollar tripod.
Size, Weight, and Dimensions
If you are planning to bring camera tripods on a trip – then the size, weight, and dimensions of a tripod are really important to look after while making a purchase decision. All these things when combined will decide the portability of any tripod.
The size of a tripod matters a lot while traveling. This is where specific travel tripods – like the Peak Design Travel Tripod – can be helpful. However, it is not that traveling is the only situation where the size of tripods matters. It also matters when you are packing for a small outdoor shoot or even when you are shooting in a small studio space.
The weight of the tripod depends on what materials are used. If a tripod uses plastic, it’ll be lower in weight, but the quality will be decent – at best. On the other side, aluminum tripods are heavier, but the quality is pretty great, and they are sturdier than the plastic counterparts. To get the best of both worlds, you can buy carbon fiber tripods – which are sturdy and have great quality while keeping the weight in control.
Dimensions of any tripod can be easy to find on the manufacturer’s website or any e-commerce site. The dimensions of the tripod will vary – and there’ll be usually two dimensions – one will be the folded ones while the other will be extended ones. If there are more leg sections, then there is a good chance that the folded dimensions will be quite a bit lower while still being able to extend to a better height.
Don’t ever mix the weight limit of the tripod with the weight of the tripod. While the weight limit would decide the total weight that a tripod can carry on itself while the weight of the tripod is how much it weighs. Both are important and should not be mixed up.
If you are looking to use tripods for a longer-term, you should have one with a decent weight limit. Some might only be able to carry mirrorless cameras with smaller lenses while some are rated for carrying cinema cameras with a heavier telephoto lens. So, make the right choice here depending on your current and potential future usage.
Tripods are usually made from three materials – plastic, aluminum, or carbon fiber. The ones made from plastic are typically cheaper ones – which won’t support much weight either. When you just go one step ahead, you can easily find tripods made of aluminum which are decent enough for the majority of creators, can carry pretty decent weight, and are decently priced too.
If you want to go and look at the top-level tripods, you will find that they are made from carbon fiber to keep their own weight lower while being able to support heavier weights. These are also expensive when compared to the other two – but they bring the best of both worlds.
Center post is present in every tripod. By using the center post, you will be able to raise the height of the tripod and get the camera to capture a photo or a video at your eye level. However, the center column isn’t a hundred percent sturdy and can cause the image or video to be a little bit shaky.
While using it can cause some shakiness and ghosting, having a center column doesn’t hurt. Sometimes, that is the thing which will be quite a lot useful to raise the overall height. And hey, don’t forget to check if the tripod you select has a hook at the bottom of the center column or not. This will help you attach sandbags and add sturdiness to the tripod.
Stability is usually decided by the feet and material used in the tripod. Also, as said earlier, you can attach sandbags or your camera bag to the hook at the center of the tripod to add more stability.
Also, to know if your tripod is stable and leveled properly, you can use the bubble levels on the tripod. Having them in the center would mean that your tripod is currently leveled properly – which would indeed provide more stability.
If you go for some of the cheaper tripods, you might just lose out on the extra features set – which is really important. Most of the lower-end and cheap tripods won’t have the ability to change the tripod heads. They also won’t have the option to change the feet of the tripod. And some also skip out on the hook – which is required for additional stability.
All these extra sets of features are usually skipped out on the cheaper tripods. But this feature set is important in long-term usage – and you will mostly find all these features in the mid-range to upper-range tripods.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Choosing the first camera tripod can be difficult. And we understand that you might as well have some questions related to that. So, we are answering some of the most commonly asked questions about the tripods here.
Why do I need to get a tripod?
If you want to shoot a video, tripods can be extremely helpful. Not only that but if you need to shoot long exposure landscape shots, a tripod can come in really handy. Also, the tripods come in clutch even in the studio environment – where you can keep the camera on the tripod, dial in the settings, and then just shoot it with the remote shutter button.
Apart from all these, if you are just starting to get into product photography and haven’t invested in much lighting equipment, tripods can help you out to achieve the perfect exposure of shots by keeping the shutter open and stable for a longer period of time.
While everyone needs a tripod, the needs can be different for every person. So, based on your needs, you can select the tripod.
Do tripods fit all cameras?
Most tripods come with tripod heads. These heads are usually equipped with a quick-release mounting plate with a 1/4-inch tripod screw. This can be used to mount any DSLR or a mirrorless body to the tripod. Also, some photographers prefer to mount a longer telephoto lens directly to the tripod – which helps them balance the tripod.
How much should I be spending on a camera tripod?
If you are just starting to get into the creative field, we would recommend you spending about $200 to USD 300 to get a decent tripod. The tripods that cost about USD 50 can be enticing. However, we would rather save and spend a bit more than getting something which we will replace quickly.
If you just want to get something under USD 100 to start with, then you can surely look into the Switchpod Tripod – as that’s one of the best and easy-to-use tripods on a budget. And hey, if you are into vlogging, you can also look at the Joby GorillaPod 3K Tripod – which is a steal as well.
Is a tripod versatile and easy to set up?
Most of the tripods out in the market are easy to set up. Some come with lever lock leg sections while others would come with twist-lock leg sections. None of them are likely worse than the other. But if you want something extremely easy to set up, a lever lock leg system is the way to go.
Also, while there are specific tripods that are made for traveling, most of the tripods can multi-work. They are versatile in the sense that the same tripod that you are using in the indoor studio for portraits or product shoots can be used for an outdoor shoot by just changing their feet to metal spikes. Just ensure that the tripod you buy allows this.
Should I get a monopod or a tripod?
Monopods aren’t bad but their usability and sturdiness are lesser than that of a tripod. Because of this, we would highly recommend you go with a tripod. However, if you still want to have a monopod, some options in the market can work as a monopod as well as a tripod. You can try them out.
Are tripods worth it?
In simple words - A hundred percent.
In the beginning, it might look like a big investment, but it is a long-term investment that eventually pays off. A good tripod can easily last you for about 5 years without any troubles. And all the work that you can get done in those years is incomparable to the cost of the tripod.
What brands do you carry?
We carry several brands in our store. If you need a tripod made by Peak Design, Switchpod, Benro, JOBY, Manfrotto, MeFOTO, or Induro, we have got you covered. Other than those specific tripod brands, we also carry the tripod accessories by Sony, GoPro, and Insta 360.
Every creator who owns and uses a camera – including everyone from studio photographers to those making commercial movies – must have a camera tripod. Investing in a good camera tripod is important as that can help you achieve smooth and stable shots for the video while also allowing you to capture long exposure shots.
We hope to make the overall process of selecting the tripod and making the purchase decision easier for you. However, if you are still confused with your specific needs, then you can always visit our Gear Guides page and reach out to one of our guides to receive personalized recommendations.