If you are an action photographer, then you are going to want something strong and lightweight with a pivoting camera mount and secure locking mechanism to ensure you capture as much of the action as possible. This means that you will likely be in the market for a tripod that is made of very durable material, such as stainless steel or titanium, but is also lightweight and compact enough to carry with ease and comfort.
A landscape photographer, however, might not need all the same tools or resources that an action photographer might need. For long exposure time, you are going to want a tripod that is sturdy and solid once it is put into place to ensure that the camera will not move due to wind or other environmental factors and ruin your shot, as well as your artistic vision.
As you can see, the selection process can get to be confusing mostly because many photographers enjoy many different kinds of shots!
So, to help ease the pain of tripod shopping, we are going to look at a few tips for finding the right tools to fit your needs.
How To Choose The Best Tripod for You?
Your budget plays the most significant role in selecting the tripod for you. While you want the best possible tripod, some of these tripods can run close to a thousand dollars, if not more. So, depending on your budget and your needs, there is a delicate trade-off between the tripod that costs 20 dollars and the best one that charges close to $1000.
When choosing a tripod, you are going to want to decide what sort of camera mount and locking mechanism you are looking for. The two most popular varieties of camera mounts are known as “ball heads” and “three-way heads.”
Ball head mounts have a single locking screw that allows the photographer to adjust the camera when loosened.
These mounts can be moved in any direction and a wide variety of angles. Ball head mounts tend to be cheaper and more compact than “three-way head” mounts.
This small size and low cost makes them perfect for shoving into a backpack or shoulder strap and carrying along a mountainside for the perfect travel photo. Ball head mounts do create some limitations, however. These mounts are not conducive to precise adjustment as they only have a single screw holding the camera into the mount.
As the name would imply, the three-way camera mounts have three separate screws which allow the photographer to adjust the camera on a separate pan tilt and swivel axis.
This means the photographer can make fine adjustments to the camera’s position on each separate access. This allows you to get the perfect shot. These mount’s precision makes them ideal for portraits and long exposure shots as they provide a very sturdy platform for the camera.
Unlike ball head mounts, these mounts tend to be bulkier and less portable because they have handles and other adjustments mechanisms that stick out at precarious angles. This might make the mount more challenging to carry. And, of course, with greater precision that is higher cost than Ball head mount tripods.
Of course, you can also decide just to choose a separate universal fit tripod head later.
Material – Aluminum vs Steel vs Carbon Fiber
Now we know the pros and cons of the two primary types of camera mounts. After you choose which one is right for you, you must now decide what kind of material suits your needs. Aluminium is lightweight and tends to be the most inexpensive. This lower cost comes with the downside that it will also need to be replaced more often. This is because aluminium tripods are not very durable and are easily dented and scratched.
That makes aluminium tripods ideal for the very casual hobbyist or the occasional side job. If you are looking for something more durable and able to take some significant dents, scratches, scuffs and scrapes, then titanium or stainless steel would be ideal. Titanium or stainless steel tripods can be purchased for a reasonable low cost – sometimes as low as $35-50.
Carbon fibre tripods are thought to be the highest quality – but this quality comes at a price. A good carbon fibre tripod can run into the hundreds of dollars. These tripods are for the most serious hobbyist or professional photographers. Carbon fiber is very lightweight and can be substantial – but not immune to damage.
Tripod Height & Stability
This is an often-overlooked factor when looking for the best tripod to buy. However, out in the field, you need an appropriately sized tripod so that you are not left bending over to take the shot. So while choosing a tripod, go for one that is for a person of your height. Some tripods do come with a centre column that is convenient when additional height is required, but this can be at the cost of stability.
Finally, there are additional details of a tripod that can have a significant impact on your purchase. Once you determine the mount type and the material that fits your needs, you should search within those parameters for a variety of other vital factors. These include maximum tripod height, tripod bases (some are more adjustable and suitable for rough or uneven terrain) and even stabilizer tools.
A tripod is a vital tool in the photographer’s arsenal. What tripod fits you best depends on a combination of the amount of use, type of photography and budget.
Hopefully, we have been able to cover the primary options available to lead you on the path to the perfect fit.
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