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Sunday, October 3, 2010

5 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Tripod


Whether you're a pro or an amateur in the field of photography, purchasing the right tripod is as essential as any other accessories. Its a fact that we do often get sharper shots and are able to plan our composition more carefully compared to having no tripod. A tripod can improve your photography tenfold. But are their differences in quality, style, functions, and durability among tripod brands? Yes, there are degrees of effectiveness in a tripod and in most cases it does not deliver these same degree of durability, stability and reliability.

So before buying your own tripod, consider these 5 important things that you need to know. These 5 things that you need to know are primarily focused on the tripod legs for your tripod setup and the head or camera mount is another issue to put focus on.


1. Weight

Weight is now an utmost concern these days. Gone are those days where tripods are made of heavy aluminum material. We can now get lightweight tripod made of carbon fiber and yet it offers ultra rock durability.
But the trade-off of course is the price. They say the more money you throw for the set of tripod legs, the lighter your tripod will be.

Weight is truly a major consideration when you do a lot of hiking, or toting around of your gear. But if you're in a studio all day most of the time, the weight factor may not be a big issue.

Weight factor would really depend on the kind of photography you are into. Light carbon fiber-made tripod may not be appropriate on a windy beach as strong wind could easily whip the entire tripod set and worst, smash your camera on the driftwood.

2. Segments

Which is best to use a 3-segment leg or a 4-segment leg? Many manufacturers are now starting to offer both 3-segment and 4-segment legs. Leg segments are another elements to consider next to composition (whether aluminum or carbon-fiber). The factors that you should consider here are portability and height. With more segments, you can collapse your tripod to more compact which allows easier porting to and from various locations. More segment legs is beneficial to travel photographers. If you don't travel often, or do not have much outdoor activities, then segment is less to consider.

Now taking height into the equation, the more segment, the higher your tripod can go.

Finally, segment goes with different lock mechanism. Which is better---latch system or the twisting mechanism?

The twist-lock mechanism is easier to manipulate when extending or collapsing the legs but many prefers the latch-lock system. Whatever you preference is, segment lock system is another part of the equation to calculate before making a purchasing decision.

3. Height

If you are 6 feet tall, hunching over those 3-6 inches to the top of your tripod could be straing on your back. But if you are shorter, height may not be a problem. A 4-segment leg tripod is typically longer than lesser segment pieces.

4. Accessory Features

You might be surpised, a tripod offering legs wutg foot spikes, horizontal bubble levels, vertical bubble levels, dual bubble levels and even tripod bags for transport. Some legs come with built-in bubbles, others feature them as add-ons for extra dollars. Same goes with the foot spikes and bags. These add-ons can increase the price to certain degree so make sure to consider these when you purchase your new tripod.

5. Manufacturer

Who makes the tripod? There are several competitive manufacturers out there that basically offer the same features of tripods. So choosing the right manufacturer primarily goes with your tastes and prefernce. Although there are already big names in the industry that seem to be the cream of teh crop in stability circles.

Much as there are many things to consider when buying your new or next tripod, the legs are clearly one important part to consider. So be smart and research more about the legs composition, segment, height, accessory it offers, and manufacturer before jumping into the purchasing decision.

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