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Photo tripods

Shopping Guide

Christmas is coming and photographers are excited about what gift Santa will bring. If your partner or one of your kids do photography and you don’t know yet what to buy for them, then I advise you to look around on the tripod market as a tripod can be a very useful present under the Christmas tree.
But why do you need a tripod for photography?
Tripods are one of the most important photo tools which help photographers to learn the proper exposure, and the secret of sharp pictures is hidden in them as well. Among others, a tripod is a must for nature photography as there are numerous photo themes, such as macro, mammals and bird photography and landscape photography which cannot be realised in good quality without a tripod. It might sound surprising but many people do landscape shots by a handheld camera and their pictures are not really sharp as it is not possible to expose really sharp pictures even with the proper depth-in-field suggested by the literature, especially not in the nice dawn and evening lights.
HDR pictures are one of the big achievements of modern photography. The usage of a tripod is inevitable for them, as these pictures have to be exposed in the same position and crop, as even a millimeter move can make these pictures blurred.
What kind of tripod should I choose?
According to the above facts, a tripod is essential for advanced level photographers. The selection is confusingly rich: from the price range of 40 EUR to 1000 EUR countless types are on the market. There are two main groups: tripods and monopods. Monopods are basically suitable for sports and press photographers, for us, nature photographers they are not really a good choice. Of course, I have a monopod too, but I also have a good tripod as well. If this is your first buy, go for a tripod first!
Now I want to help in the big chaos and give you some pieces of advice what to look for at the webshops. There are two or three data reagrding tripods which are important for us. The first one is the weight of the tripod, the second one is that how much load it can hold without any motion. For example, a Benro A1580F aluminium tripod has four leg-sections, so its legs can be pulled out in four sections and it weighs 1.55 kg, and holds a load of 6 kg. These are the most important data, but there are other features too. Some types of tripods can be laid down to the ground, and it is very useful at macro photography, just think of the short wild flowers in spring.
Some types of tripods have a horizontal center column feature, which allows the center column to flip quickly and easily from vertical to horizontal. By extending the column to its highest vertical position, it can be swung over to horizontal without removing the head or disassembling the column itself. You can do it with Manfrotto 055X PROB tripod. Another option is when the camera is upside down on the central column, but this is not really comfortable. Or you can order a shorter central column for the tripod by which the legs can be fully stretched.
Aluminium or carbon?
Another important question, should I buy aluminium or carbon tripod? This is a matter of your budget. While aluminium tripods cost about 100-150 EUR, the prices of the carbon ones range from 300 EUR to 1000 EUR. Who needs a carbon tripod and for what? Those who fly a lot or whose themes (landscapes) can be accessed only by long walk or mountain climbing are advised to choose the lighter carbon tripod. Those who travel relatively short distances with their equipment, it is not worth investing in a carbon tripod as their light weight is their only benefit. However, in the professional category it makes sense to buy a carbon tripod, since it does matter that an aluminum tripod weighs 6 kg and supports 15 kg, while a modern carbon tripod in the same category weighs only 2 kg and holds 25 to 30 kg load!
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