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A Guide to Using a Tripod

Improved high ISO performance in cameras and image stabilization features in lenses have undoubtedly transformed the possibilities of capturing amazing pictures in low light conditions. However, when it comes to exploring the creative possibilities of low light and slow shutter speeds, the steady base of a tripod is your best possible choice.

To ensure you get the best from your tripod, it’s not only imperative to use your tripod effectively, but also to invest in the one with the right level of protection, support and features for your valuable camera gear. In this article, you will find quick tips to use a tripod to capture sharp images, as well as some key features to look for in a tripod:

Setting Up Your Tripod

Unless you are using a tripod indoors, it’s likely that the ground isn’t going to be level. So, it’s important to know how to set up your tripod on any kind of surface. That’s the only way you will be able to capture sharp pictures when using a tripod!

The most practical situation to use a tripod is when the ground is uneven, which means you will have to adjust the legs accordingly to accommodate this. You can either change the angle of each leg, or adjust the length of each leg to compensate for the unevenness in the ground.

When it comes to low-level shots, part of the centre column needs to be unscrewed. This will allow you to get down to at least 30cm from the uneven ground. However, that’s not the only way to position your camera at almost ground level.

Alternatively, you could also reverse the entire column or remove the head and fix it to the bottom of the column. The only problem of doing so is that the camera will be upside down, therefore making it more difficult to operate.

Most tripods you will find on the market are pretty light. Therefore, adding extra weight will surely help to make your tripod more stable. Some models let you attach your camera bag as they feature a hook on the end of the centre column.

If you have a model with no hook, keep in mind that the handle of your camera bag can be hooked over the top of the tripod. With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the steps involved in setting up your tripod to get sharper results:

  1. Use the Top Sections
    Since the smaller section legs are less rigid as compared to the thicker top sections, they are far more prone to flex and wobble. So, make sure you extend the largest sections legs first.
  2. Keep the Column Low
    The centre column is the most unstable of all the components of a tripod, which is why you are better off not using it.
  3. Check the Footing
    You must ensure your feet are placed on stable ground. When shooting on slippery surfaces, try to wedge the feet in position.

Essential Features to Look for in a Tripod

  1. Versatility
    The tripod should have adjustable leg angles so you can shoot at low levels. For really low-level shots, the ability to remove the centre column is incredibly useful.
  2. Effective Leg Locks
    Are the leg locks easy to close and open? It’s also important that they hold their position. To find out, extend their legs and then gently press them down to ensure they don’t decompress that easily.
  3. Solid Construction
    Shop around for the best aluminum construction. There shouldn’t be much movement. To find out, extend the tripod to its full height and gently press down on the top of the tripod.
January 20, 2016

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