It doesn’t take long to realize how important a tripod is. Stabilizing the camera goes a long way to eliminate camera shake which results in blurred pictures. No matter how steady one thinks they are and no matter what technique one uses to hand-hold the camera the body will still make slight movements. This is especially true for long and multiple exposures as required for low light and HDR photography.
But is isn’t just a problem in those specialized applications; if you are shooting portraits, the subjects can never stand or sit perfectly still. Effectively the photographer and the subject slowly sway like buildings in high winds. One way photographers often use fast shutter speeds to compensate for movement effectively mitigating the affects of hand-holding the camera. Since a faster shutter speed means that sacrifices have to be made and you don’t have the light to spare. That is when tripods will save you.
Tripods are expensive. Or, I should say GOOD tripods or expensive. I tried the cheap ones. I tried multiple cheap ones and they were terrible. Here are some problems they gave me:
- The legs were hard to extend
- The head wouldn’t lock down tight allowing the camera to drift..
- The gear action or elevating the head would allow the camera to slowly slip down.
- The head broke.
After much research and angst I finally purchased a Manfrotto 725B. At around $150 it was rather on the low end of spiffy tripods. There are many options to tripods and the options can lead one down a bunch of rabbit holes. I did not need carbon fiber legs, I did not need quick release legs (though that would have been sweet), I did not need a very compact nor a very heavy tripod. The 725B fit the bill quite nicely.
I quickly fell in love with the ball head. Most heads requires separate adjustments for each axis and that is a pain if you are wanting to be like a commando (drop in, shoot your pictures and get out). There is some sacrifice with a ball head, namely if you are planning to use a big honking lens. I had no problem with my 70-300.
Since my tripod is officially lost I went to order a new one. Unfortunately I could not find the 725B new (that model was discontinued) or used. Luckily Manfrotto had me in mind since they replaced the 725B with the 7302YB. It looks mostly the same and is supposed to have some improvements. Time will tell.