Welcome to this mini photography tip to help you with your camera and to get better photos!
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This photography tip is about selecting a tripod for your camera.
Having a good tripod for landscape photography (or any photography really) is very important. You spend thousands on good cameras and good lenses etc. so why not invest in good accessories also. The number one criteria for a good tripod is stability. For long exposure photography which a lot of landscape photography is, one tiny movement of your camera during exposure will ruin your shot or result in a loss of detail and sharpness. Putting a few kilos of camera and a good lens on a tiny cheap tripod is a recipe for disaster with your shots. This is even more critical when it is windy.
So, in short it's worth investing up front in good equipment. Like anything you get what you pay for and in most cases you will save money because you will realise the cheap tripod is no good and go buy a better one anyway.
Here's a few things I like to have in a tripod and are good things to look for when buying one.
1. Good solid legs and robust construction. Tripods with skinny legs are generally no good.
2. Look for one that extends to a good height but also remains stable. Most good reputable tripods will be able to do this. It's easier to use your camera at the right height and it's also good for viewing over fences and the like. At least up to about chest height is good.
3. A ball head is a must for landscape photography. That way your tripod can be on uneven ground and you can still level the camera. Your tripod will need to be level though if you are shooting panoramas. My main tripod has a ball head with a trigger grip which gives even more control over your camera for setting compositions.
4. I like the overcentre clips to adjust the legs although the screw type legs are still Ok, I just like the clip ones and they are easier and quicker to use.
5. Having an adjustment to pan the ball head left or right is a good feature to have to save having to adjust the whole ballhead and resetting your composition. Some tripods don't have this so it's something to look for when buying a tripod.
6. Having a hook under the centre column is a very handy feature as you can hang your bag off it to add more weight to your tripod making it more stable.
7. Having a bubble level on the tripod itself is a must especially if you are shooting panoramas as your tripod must be exactly level. For other shooting it doesn't matter as you can use your camera levels to line everything up. That way you can be positioned on uneven ground like rocks etc.
If you do a lot of hiking look for as many of these features as possible and carbon construction which considerably reduces weight. One that folds up to a small size is important also for fitting to a backpack. When I'm using my travel tripod I try to keep as low to the ground as possible and spread the legs wide for better stability. Having a camera with a flip out screen is also handy when shooting like this.
And one last tip when using your tripod. Don't extend the centre column up too far, it just makes your camera more susceptible to movement. Keep it lower closer the main tripod frame for better stability.
I hope you enjoyed this photography tip. Feel free to ask any questions here or send me a message or email.
Till next time, happy shooting.