The Pros and Cons of Tripods: The Practicing Photographer

Published by | Friday, August 30th, 2013
The pros and cons of tripods

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Do you need a tripod? If you’re Ben Long, you need a few of them. In this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, Ben admits to being a tripod fan: he owns three along with a couple of different tripod heads and a monopod.

And yet he admits to employing this arsenal of stabilization only occasionally: for macro work, for low-light scenes, and for product photography. As Ben points out, the high-ISO capabilities of today’s cameras, combined with the vibration-reduction features found in most lenses, make carrying around a tripod less essential than it used to be. A tripod remains a big help when you’re shooting with slow shutter speeds—keeping you in crisp focus when there’s little light in a scene, or when you’re shooting at a small aperture setting to increase depth of field (sharpness from front to back).

But Ben says a tripod can be a burden when you’re shooting in the field; it’s yet another thing to carry around. And a camera on a tripod isn’t exactly ideal for fast, responsive shooting—for those scenarios where you want to move around and recompose quickly.

As for me, I use my monopod a lot more often; it fits in my suitcase and provides just enough extra stability to make the difference in low-light scenes. I also use it to add some stability when I’m shooting video with my DSLR.

One last monopod tip: They’re great for getting high point-of-view shots. Fully extend your monopod’s leg, then activate your camera’s self-timer mode. Press the shutter release and then hold the monopod high over your head until your camera takes its shot.

A high-POV shot taken with a monopod

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