In this era of social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, people tend to capture almost every moment of their daily life activities and post them on the aforementioned websites. As the digital cameras have become easily available and accessible to everyone, you would get to see innumerable pictures on the internet. But unfortunately, with this availability, the room for aesthetic appeal and creativity in photography is gradually diminishing to a horrifying extent. So, in this article we are sharing Tips to add Creativity in Photography
Despite the false notion of many people that taking pictures is a mere cinch, mastering the art of photography requires a considerable amount of skill, dedication, and aesthetic sensibility. Nowadays cameras are available in every possible form from smartphones to webcams in laptops. But the truth is, traditional DSLR cameras are still considered one of the best photography paraphernalia, especially for the beginners.
If you want to be genuinely creative with your photography skills, here are some equipment that you should possess:
- Camera: For beginners it is better to buy an amateur DSLR camera at first and then shift to semi-professional and professional with your gradual improvement. It is important to check certain factors like ISO, focal point, overall image quality etc to make a decent selection of camera.
- Lens: Without a proper lens, the camera you purchase, however expensive it may be, is basically defunct. Therefore, it is important to buy a lens with proper zooming ability.
- Tripod: Despite being severely underappreciated as photography equipment, for beginners in this domain it plays a pivotal role to actually grasp the nuances of this art.
- Lighting and filter: You need to make sure that the lighting and filter of your camera is perfect because these two accessories are necessary to enhance the effect of light and shadow and are indispensable for creative photography.
Besides purchasing the most suitable equipment for enhancing your photography skills, you also would need to check on the factors like the center of attraction while taking a photograph, framing, aperture control, dynamic range, shutter speed, etc. Once you sort out all the basics of photography, you can concentrate on being more creative with your shooting technique.
Although the notion of creativity is relative and varies significantly from one person to another, there are some common techniques that are usually followed by beginners in their path towards creative and innovative photography. Below, some of those techniques are discussed for your convenience:
- Moving the camera: It is the general notion that you need to stand still with your camera while taking a shot. While it is partially true, moving your camera in a particular way also helps in taking magnificent as well as ingenious shots. It is one of the most common and oldest techniques of creative photography. There are basically three ways you can move your camera. They are:
- Panning: Panning is the technique of swinging your camera along a horizontal or vertical plane to capture a particular moving subject. To make this technique perfect you need to take the factors like shutter speed, focus, position of the tripod, and the distance of the object from the camera. Panning is extensively used in sports photography to track the position of the ball or a particular player. You can use panning effectively to track down a moving falcon or a cheetah as well in case you’re interested in wildlife photography.
- Rotating: Rotating your camera also a very innovative technique that helps you get a 360 degree view of the mise en scène.
- Throwing: It is not a very conventional moving technique but people with sufficient reflex and photography skills sometimes follow this technique to capture photography masterpieces. In this technique, the camera is thrown upwards with a predetermined shutter speed.
- Zooming and shooting simultaneously: It is a very effective technique to capture dynamic pictures or instill a sense of speed or movement in the shot. It also helps in creating a unique three-dimensional appearance and feeling in the picture taken. To master this technique, you need to use a slow sync flash to enhance the creative effect.
- Creative focusing: Creative focusing is also a technique used by extremely adroit photographers. It is considered one of the most ingenious techniques of taking photographs. This technique is extensively used in filming movies where the cameraman deliberately keeps some subjects out of focus so that the center of attraction appears to be sharper and more prominent. For creative focusing, you need to have a clear idea about the aperture control of your camera to take the best possible shot.
- Shooting from a lower angle: Shooting from a lower angle i.e. from the ground surface creates an entirely different perspective of photography. It accounts for the aesthetic sense of the photographer and helps in seeing objects from a different angle. This technique is very popular and acceptable for wildlife photography.
- Slow sync flash: For capturing an object in a lower light condition, this technique is extremely useful. Through this process, you would be able to combine the natural ambient light with your flash to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your shot.
Besides these common and popular techniques, overexposing, adjusting the white balance, etc are also considered creative ways of taking picture. There are reputed and experienced companies like Thirdidigital in India who are capable of offering you the right set of equipment for such activities.
To sum up, with the right photography paraphernalia and the proper execution of the aforementioned techniques, you can easily be creative with your photography skills, even as a neophyte in this domain.
Photography: Tips to click The Perfect Shot
Framing and preserving the memorable moments of someone’s life has been a tradition for a long time among people. People capture certain scenes for several reasons. It can be for holding on to a particular memory perpetually or just for the sake of beauty evinced by a particular scene. The basic difference between taking a picture and painting one is that, a painting might not be the selfsame version of the real object as it incorporates the artist’s imagination and creativity whereas a picture shot by a camera is much closer to the reality. Depending upon the angle, light, and myriads of other significant factors, the picture taken can be construed in multifarious ways.
Although it is the general notion that any person is capable of taking a picture if s/he has access to the latest model of a reputed camera manufacturer, photography is an art that has to be mastered with patience and perseverance. Nowadays, a camera has become very much accessible as it comes with gadgets like Smartphones, laptops, etc. But the truth is, to hone your photography skills; you would still require the most appropriate paraphernalia.
In this article, a few necessary equipment for photography will be discussed along with a Tips to click The Perfect Shot.
Necessary Equipment for Photography:
- Camera: Undoubtedly, camera is the most important piece of photography equipment. Despite the availability of two types of cameras namely mirror-less and DSLR, the latter is still considered an appropriate choice for taking a perfect shot, at least for a tyro in this domain. As Nikon is considered one of the best camera manufacturers of the world at the moment, the D700 model designed by them can be a really judicious selection. In Indian megalopolises like Hyderabad, you would find companies like Thirdidigital that offers an extensive range of this type of cameras. As these companies offer a vast range of differen
t models, to buy the best camera for photography, you need to consider the following matters very carefully:
- The class of the camera (amateur, professional or semi-professional)
- Customized ISO and focal point
- Overall image quality and
- Focus and shutter speed
For Best Deals on Digital Cameras, check our website ThirdiDigital
- Lens: Lens is another very essential entity that helps the light reach the sensor of the camera so that the picture can be captured. This equipment comes in a gamut of different models along with various price ranges. Although prime lenses are good for practicing the art of photography at the beginning, they don’t possess any zooming ability. On the other hand, a 1.8 DX lens or a 2.8 OS lens comes with a considerable zooming ability (usually from 17 mm to 50 mm). Your selection of lens would vastly differ according to the genre of photography you choose. For example, the appropriate lens for wildlife photography would be radically different from the right lens for capturing landscapes or cities.
For Best Deals on Camera Lenses, check our website ThirdiDigital
- Tripod: Despite being seriously undervalued and overlooked, the pivotal importance of a tripod for honing one’s photography skills is undeniable. This equipment is usually made of aluminium to provide sturdiness and sustainability. Tripods can be proved extremely useful for taking photographs of certain wildlife as it requires a significant amount of time and patience. As a newcomer in the domain of photography, you should never make the mistake of buying a cheap and low quality tripod thinking that it will be useless for you. As a matter of fact, for taking a perfect shot, a tripod is indispensable – similar to a camera and a decent lens. Check our post on choosing the Right Tripod.
For Best Deals on Tripod & Supporting Accessories, check our website ThirdiDigital.
- Lighting and filter: The beauty of a photograph depends significantly on the chiaroscuro i.e. the effect of light and shadow. As a result, both lighting and filter are also considered essential for top quality photography as they are responsible for adjusting the amount of light a particular photo requires along with the right combination of colors.
For Best Deals on Lighting & filters, check our website ThirdiDigital
A Few Tips to Tips to click The Perfect Shot:
After purchasing the right equipment, you must follow a few steps for perfecting your photography skills. Below, you would find a few points that can be helpful for you while taking a perfect shot:
- The center of attraction: Determining the center of attraction is the key to a perfect shot. To determine the centre of attraction you would need to find out the most interesting object in the scene you are about to take picture of and eliminate all the distractions by framing it properly.
- The dynamic range: The dynamic range refers to the ability to see the extremes of darkness and light at the same time. The human eye has an incredible dynamic range as it can see extremely dark objects clearly in a bright background. Cameras possess a much inferior dynamic range in comparison with the human eye. So, to click The Perfect Shot, you must have a clear idea about the dynamic range of your camera and make necessary adjustments accordingly.
- The aperture control: To master the art of photography, a person must know the minute details of aperture control as it plays a pivotal part in determining the quality of the picture. With the condition of your aperture (wide or small), you would be able to figure out how much out of focus you are and consequently, taking the shot would become much easier. The aperture can be compared to the iris of a human eye and is a part of the exposure triangle which also includes ISO and shutter speed. Between these two, ISO determines the sensitivity to light whereas the shutter speed determines the time the shutter of your camera is going to remain open. These two factors should also be checked during photography.
- Vigilance: As a photographer, you must always remain vigilant to capture the perfect moment as these moments are often ephemeral and can evanescence in the blink of an eye.
If you have a propensity for capturing moments that are worthwhile, with proper equipment and tips, taking your coveted perfect shot would just be a matter of time.
Also, Check some of our related post, that will surely help you to master the art of photography.
It’s that time of the year again when all of India illuminates once again for the most celebrated festival of Diwali. As we all know the festival is all about the lights, family and friend bonding and of course the lip smacking delicacies, however this Diwali together with the string of lights, diyas and the overwhelming aroma from kitchens, ‘ThirdiDigital ‘would like to help you all share, experience and capture the happiness of Diwali and make it last for a lifetimes. Do check Diwali Sales for Camera offer.
Diwali Sales for Camera, Lenses & Accessories only on ThirdiDigital
We are giving away some of the best deal on DSLR cameras and DSLR kits over our Ecommerce site thirdidigital.in and giving a chance to that budding photographer in you to follow your passion. As for the photography Pros out there our Diwali offer is bound to make your hand itch to click that ‘Purchase Now’ button on the Nikon AF S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 E ED VR Lens or the Olympus FCON-P01 Fish Eye Converter or the Manfrotto Tripod. Oh!! And did we mention that you get a 1TB HDD for free with any DSLR camera you buy…
Here are some of our best prices on D
SLR kits and Lens:
- Nikon D 3400 DSLR kit
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Lens
- Nikon D5600 (18-55mm VR+ 70-300mm ED VR) DSLR Kit
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This festive season we at ThirdI Digital want you to express and share with us your happiness during the festival of Diwali at our Facebook Page @iiirdiretail. Simply click your happiness moment and share it us via our Facebook page under our contest post or tag us using @iiirdiretail while uploading. 1st prize stands to win a holiday package| 2nd and 3rd prize stand to win 16 GB pen drives or ThirdI goodies. 5 of the best clicks to the #ThisDiwaliClickHappiness contest will also be featured our Facebook page.
The contest and Diwali offers have commenced since 13/10/17 and will last till 22/10/17. So join in on all the fun today and avail the offers we have to offer. Be it a gift for your loved ones or a gift for yourself; create happiness this season with ThirdI digital.
Need suggestion or have any question regarding BUYING your 1st Camera or anything related to Photography. Share your details and one of our top expert will guide.
The Nikon D850 is Nikon’s latest high resolution full-frame DSLR, boasting a 46MP backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. But, in a fairly radical departure for the series, it is also one of the company’s fastest-shooting DSLRs. This combination of properties should significantly widen the camera’s appeal to high-end enthusiasts as well as a broad range of professional photographers.
- 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor
- 7 fps continuous shooting with AE/AF (9 with battery grip and EN-EL18b battery)
- 153-point AF system linked to 180,000-pixel metering system
- UHD 4K video capture at up to 30p from full sensor width
- 1080 video at up to 120p, recorded as roughly 1/4 or 1/5th speed slow-mo
- 4:2:2 8-bit UHD uncompressed output while recording to card
- 1 XQD slot and 1 UHS II-compliant SD slot
- Battery life rated at 1840 shots
- 3.2″ tilting touchscreen with 2.36M-dot (1024×768 pixel) LCD
- Illuminated controls
- 19.4MP DX crop (or 8.6MP at 30fps for up to 3 sec)
- SnapBridge full-time Bluetooth LE connection system with Wi-Fi
- Advanced time-lapse options (including in-camera 4K video creation)
The use of a backside illuminated (BSI) sensor means that the light collecting elements of the sensor are closer to the surface of the chip. This should not only increase the efficiency of the sensor (improving low light performance) but should also be expected to make the pixels near the edges of the sensor better able to accept light approaching with high angles of incidence, improving peripheral image quality.
Like the D810 before it, the D850 continues to offer an ISO 64 mode, that allows it to tolerate more light in bright conditions.
The D850 has gained a more usable electronic first curtain shutter option, which can now be used quiet shutter mode, as well as live view and Mirror-Up mode. To get the full benefit, though, you need to turn on exposure delay (which has had two sub-second delay settings added). However, exposure delay persists across all shooting modes. Thankfully, and presumably thanks to a redesigned shutter and mirror mechanism, our quick check with a pre-production model suggests shutter shock may not be an issue, even without engaging it.
The D850 has no anti-aliasing filter, which should allow for slightly finer detail capture but with added risk of moiré, if any of your lenses are sharp enough to out-resolve a 45.7MP full-frame sensor. There’s still no sign of the clever design Nikon patented so, unlike the Pentax K-1 or Sony RX1R II, you can’t engage an anti-aliasing effect if you do find false color appearing in densely patterned areas.
In addition to the increased speed, the D850 also gains the full AF capabilities of the company’s flagship sports camera: the D5. This includes all the hardware: AF module, metering sensor and dedicated AF processor, as well as the full range of AF modes and configuration options, which should translate to comparable focus performance combined with high resolution.
Given the D5 possessed one of the best AF systems we’ve ever seen and could continue to offer that performance in a wide range of conditions and shooting scenarios with minimal need for configuration, this is an exciting prospect.
As part of this system, the D850 gains the automated system for setting an AF Fine Tune value. It only calibrates the lens based on the central AF point and for a single distance, but it’s a simple way to ensure you’re getting closer to your lenses’ full capabilities, which is handy given you’ll now be able to scrutinize their performance with 46MP of detail.
Impressively, the D850 can shoot at nine frames per second if you add the optional MB-D18 battery grip and buy an EN-EL18b battery, as used in the D5. As well as increasing the camera’s burst rate, this combination also ups the battery life to a staggering 5140 shots per charge. You don’t get this same boost in speed or endurance if you use a second EN-EL15a in the grip, though.
An MB-D18 plus an EN-EL18b is likely to set you back over $580 over and above the cost of the camera body ($399 for the grip, around $149 for the battery, $30 for the BL-6 battery chamber cover plus the cost of a charger).
The D850 also includes a sufficiently deep buffer to allow fifty-one 14-bit losslessly compressed Raw files, meaning the majority of photographers are unlikely to hit its limits.
In terms of video the D850 becomes the first Nikon DSLR to capture 4K video from the full width of its sensor. The camera can shoot at 30, 25 or 24p, at a bitrate of around 144 Mbps. It can simultaneously output uncompressed 4:2:2 8-bit UHD to an external recorder while recording to the card.
At 1080 resolution, the camera can shoot at up to 60p, with a slow-mo mode that can capture at 120 frames per second before outputting at either 25 or 24p. The 1080 mode also offers focus peaking and digital stabilization, neither of which are available for 4K shooting.
Body & Camera Features
The D850’s body is primarily made from magnesium alloy and fairly closely resembles the D810. The newer model gains a D750-style flip up/down cradle for its rear screen, which is not only much higher in resolution but also touch sensitive. Unlike the D5 and D500, this touch sensitivity can be used in live view mode and for navigating menus, as well as for in playback mode.
The camera’s grip has been reworked, making it more comfortable than the D810 when holding the camera for long periods or with heavy lens combinations.
The most obvious visual difference between the cameras is a different viewfinder hump, with the new camera having no built-in flash. Instead, strobe users will have to make do with the flash sync socket or purchase the WR- radio control trigger set (the WR-A10, WR-R10 and WR-T10 that allow remote triggering of the camera or remote control of radio compatible flashguns such as the Speedlight SB-5000).
Nikon says that the removal of the onboard flash allows the D850 to be better weather-sealed than the D810, since there are fewer seams on the top of the camera to protect against moisture ingress.
As with the Nikon D5, the D850 has a 153-point AF system featuring 99 cross-type points. The central AF point is rated as working in light as low as -4EV, with the rest still active at -3EV (and, since the metering sensor is meant to work down to this level too, it may still be possible to use the camera’s 3D tracking mode in these very low light conditions). Fifteen of the camera’s AF points clustered near the center of the frame will work with lens + teleconverter combinations with maximum apertures of just F8, which should make it useful for pursuits such as birding.
This Multi-Cam 20K AF system, like the D5’s, offers a good degree of frame coverage for a full frame camera: 30% wider than on the D810, the company says. The move from the D810’s 91,000-pixel metering sensor to the D5’s 180,000-pixel chip should improve subject recognition. This and the inclusion of a dedicated AF processor means the D850 should be a match for the D5, which can keep AF points on a moving subject even in continuous shooting, rather than subject tracking performance dropping noticeably during bursts, as the D810’s did.
So far as we understand, the only significant difference between the D850’s AF system and the D5’s is the viewfinder display. The D5 has an organic electro-luminescent display layer that allows it to light the active AF points as they change in 3D tracking mode, the D850 has an LCD layer on which the points only light up when they’re manually moved or when focus is initiated or acquired.
The removal of the camera’s built-in flash frees up room for a new viewfinder, so magnification is able to leap from 0.7x to 0.75x which is the largest optical viewfinder on any Nikon DSLR. The larger finder, which features a new condenser lens and an aspherical element in the design, retains a reasonable (17mm) eye point, as we understand, so the whole scene should be visible even for most glasses wearers.
As with previous Nikon cameras, the D850 has intervalometer functions built in, so that you can capture time lapses without any external accessories. This feature can be combined with the camera’s silent shutter live view mode, to avoid vibration or excessive wear on the mechanical shutter, though with the risk of rolling shutter.
The camera can either assemble the images together in a 4K video or retain the full resolution files, to allow you to create a full resolution time-lapse in third-party software. Nikon uses the camera’s high resolution to brand this second capability as “8K Timelapse,” since the images exceed the 7680 × 4320 dimension of that video format.
Like previous Nikons, the intervalometer lets you specify the number of shots and the delay between them but now adds the ability to create a new folder and reset the file numbering for each time lapse sequence, so that the files can easily be isolated and transferred to 3rd-party software.
The D850 can also use this ‘new folder and reset the counter’ approach for another of its features. The Focus Shift mode prompts the camera to shoot a series of photos at different focus distances. You can specify the number of images, the size of the distance steps and whether there’s a delay between each shot. Unlike the similar feature on Olympus and Panasonic cameras, the Nikon can’t combine the resultant images, but it can place them in a separate folder to make it easy to import them into 3rd-party focus stacking software.
We’re told the focus steps will be selected on a dimensionless 0-10 scale, presumably because the distance of the increments will vary depending on the type of lens you use.
The D850 includes Nikon’s SnapBridge connectivity system. This establishes a full-time Bluetooth LE connection between the camera and compatible smart devices. This is a step forward from the D810, which had no built-in wireless options, however, we have not found the SnapBridge system to be a good match for high-end systems in the past.
Existing implementations of SnapBridge lean very heavily towards using the Bluetooth connection to transfer images (unlike Samsung and Canon’s approaches, which use it just to keep lines of communication open, so that Wi-Fi communication can be established more rapidly). The camera can transfer every image it shoots automatically either at 2MP or in full resolution, but only over Bluetooth. Select the images on the camera and those will be sent (slowly) over Bluetooth, too. The only way of accessing Wi-Fi and its greater transfer speed is to use the app to browse your memory card and select from there.
Without a significant reworking of the SnapBridge app, we are concerned that the combination of a high-speed 46MP camera and a primarily Bluetooth-based connection with no ability to send Raw files will be inappropriate for the typical D850 user.
The Sony a99 II showed it was possible to offer high resolution images and fast shooting, but the D850 takes this a step further. There are some ‘ifs,’ of course, but if the sensor can offer the low ISO image quality of the D810 combined with the AF of the D5 at between seven and nine frames per second, then it could really be a camera for all disciplines, from high res studio work to street fashion, weddings, sports, landscapes…
Whether it lives up to this promise will come down to the implementation, and it’s what we’ve experienced of this, hands-on, that leaves us impressed. For a start, it seems that a revised shutter and mirror mechanism has resolved the shock issues the D810 exhibited with longer lenses. This is a critical improvement for such a high resolution camera and one that isn’t directly covered in the specs, but our quick shots suggest it’s done the job.
We weren’t able to examine the camera’s high ISO performance, but a quick check at base ISO suggests the ISO 64 mode does offer a DR advantage over ISO 100, which is what allowed the D810 to match the dynamic range performance of the GFX 50S and Pentax 645Z. We’ve also not had a chance to check the shadows, so this is a very preliminary impression, but ISO 64 does seem to be a ‘real’ sensitivity setting (i.e., not just ISO 100, but clipping earlier).
Choosing a tripod can be an overwhelming experience, given how many different types and choices we are presented with. On one hand, a tripod is a very simple tool to keep our cameras steady when we use them in challenging light conditions. On the other hand, there are so many different variables that come into play when choosing a tripod: How tall should it be? How light should it be? How stable should it be? What kind of weight can it support? How much should I spend on a tripod? These are just some of the questions that might come up as you look into buying a new tripod.
Why Do You Need a Tripod?
So, what is the purpose of a tripod? You might need a tripod for some or all of the following reasons:
- To increase sharpness and depth of field in your images by keeping the camera still in low-light environments when using slow shutter speeds.
- To rest heavy camera gear such as long telephoto lenses on the tripod.
- To increase the quality of the images by keeping the camera ISO low.
- To allow more careful composition, while framing the shot exactly how you want it.
- To shoot HDR and panoramic shots that require exactly the same framing and precision.
- To photograph night-time objects such as the Moon, planets, stars, etc. as well as painting with light or using available light for landscape and architectural photography.
- To do self-portraits with a camera timer.
- To shoot extreme close-ups/macro (flowers, insects, etc).
- To hold various objects such as flashes, reflectors, etc.
- To shoot at difficult or impossible (hand-held) angles.
- To shoot vibration-free videos.
- To defend yourself 🙂 (just for a laugh)
Use of tripod for one main reason – landscape photography. Shooting sunrises and sunsets can be quite challenging, especially when the light conditions are far from ideal. Thanks to image stabilized lenses and now cameras with excellent built-in image stabilization, the use of a tripod for most types of photography is not necessary when shooting in daylight conditions. However, some photographers still prefer to use a tripod, as it allows them to keep the camera ISO as low as possible, which not only keeps the amount of noise in images to a minimum, but also provides the highest dynamic range the camera sensor can capture. In addition, a tripod can help in proper framing of a subject and allow to capture panoramic and HDR images. Lastly, there are situations where one must use a tripod in order to slow down and blur action, such as when photographing streams and waterfalls as shown in the image below. Therefore, if you are into landscape photography, a good tripod is a must-have tool in the field.
Tripod Components – What is a Tripod System?
A tripod system is generally comprised of the following parts:
- Legs – the obvious. Tripod legs are typically made of aluminum, basalt, steel or carbon fiber.
- Head – the part that holds a digital camera or a lens. There are many different types of heads, but the most popular types are ball-heads and pan-tilt heads.
- Centerpost/Center Column – a separate leg that runs through the middle, allowing to further raise the tripod head.
- Feet – good tripods allow changing tripod feet at the end of the legs for indoor and outdoor use.
The cheapest tripods have legs with an integrated non-replaceable head and feet and sometimes have a centerpost, while the top-of-the-line tripods have a modular tripod system that have replaceable feet and allow attaching a separate tripod head (the head is typically not included).
Disadvantages of Using a Tripod
Tripods are nice and can give you many options to get the highest quality image. However, there are also some disadvantages of using tripods, specifically:
- They are potentially heavy. Although there are lightweight carbon-fiber tripods out there, once you add a tripod head, the setup can become heavy.
- They are inconvenient. No matter how small and collapsible a tripod is, it still occupies space and is often inconvenient to carry around or travel with.
- They are difficult to use in crowded environments.
- They can be expensive. Good tripod systems can cost you more
- They can take time to set up, making you miss the best moment.
- You can easily damage your camera and lens if you do not know how to properly
- operate a tripod, or if the tripod system is cheap and unstable.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tripod
You started your tripod shopping spree and have no idea where to start. What factors do you need to consider when purchasing a tripod? As I have pointed out above, purchasing a tripod can be an overwhelming experience, given how many different choices we are presented with from small and compact, to large and heavy. Let’s go through each factor and identify your needs:
The first thing I would look at is how much weight a tripod can support. Many photographers make the mistake of buying a tripod that can only support a few pounds and is not made for heavy camera equipment. What ends up happening is the obvious – at one point or another the whole thing collapses, destroying the camera and the lens. Always make sure that the tripod you want to buy can support at least 1.5 times more than the total weight of your camera and your heaviest lens. I say at least, because I prefer to keep it at around 2x more. Do not forget that you will at times apply pressure on your camera and sometimes even rest your hands on the setup if you are shooting with long lenses, which adds to the weight. You might also add a flash or a battery grip to your camera in the future, or potentially shoot with something heavier, so you have to keep all of that in mind.
I always recommend buying a tripod that matches your height, so that you do not have to bend to look into the viewfinder. Once you put your camera on a tripod, the viewfinder should be at your eye level. It is OK if it goes higher than your eye level, because you can always adjust the legs to be shorter. However, if it is much below your eye level, you will find yourself bending all the time, which can be a tiring experience, especially when you are waiting for some kind of action and need to constantly look through the viewfinder.
If you are buying a tripod with an attached head, you want the tip of the head to be on your jaw level. If you are buying a modular tripod with a separate head, make sure that the legs end approximately on your shoulder level.
Another factor to consider is tripod height when it is folded for easier travel. Do you need it to fit in your carry-on luggage? Mine barely does diagonally, with feet removed, and I take it with me everywhere I go.
Tripod Weight and Construction
Weight is a significant factor when choosing a tripod. You do not want your tripod to be too heavy, because you will find yourself leaving it at home, rather than taking it with you on the road. The lightest tripods are made of carbon-fiber material, which is extremely durable, stable and does not rust. While carbon-fiber is the best material for a tripod, it unfortunately comes at a high price tag.
The next best construction material is aluminum, which is heavier than carbon fiber. Most cheaper tripods are made of aluminum today. You can also find tripods made of stainless steel, but those are generally used for video equipment and are too heavy for regular use.
In terms of total weight, try to keep the tripod legs without the head under 5 pounds. Generally, carbon fiber legs are between 3 and 4 pounds (but can be lighter or heavier depending on what they are made for), while aluminum legs can be between 5 and 6 pounds and heavier, depending on the size and how much weight they can support. Basalt lava legs are somewhere in-between both in terms of weight and cost.
Tripod legs generally come in two forms – tubular and non-tubular. All carbon-fiber legs come in tubular form and have a threaded twist-lock system to secure the legs, while aluminum, basalt and steel tripods might come in different shapes with a flip-lock. Depending on the maximum height of the tripod, there might be between 3 and 5 sections on tripod legs. The more sections, the higher the tripod and generally a little less stable.
Some advanced tripods will allow you to replace tripod feet for different conditions and situations – they just unscrew on the bottom of the tripod legs. There are different types of tripod feet for indoors (rubber or plastic) and outdoors use (metal spikes). Unless you are planning to shoot in icy, rainy/slippery conditions, the standard rubber feet that come with your tripod should work just fine.
Some tripods come with a centerpost – a single leg in the middle of the tripod that allows you to increase or decrease the height of the camera by simply moving the centerpost in upward or downward direction. Although some photographers find it convenient and nice to have, I strongly advice against having a centerpost on a tripod. A centerpost defeats the whole purpose of a tripod – it is essentially the same thing as having a monopod on top of a tripod. It might not be as pronounced if you are only shooting with a wide-angle lens, but once you set up a long telephoto lens, you will quickly understand that using a centerpost will cause too much vibration. If you still want to get a centerpost for whatever reason, make sure that it can fully decline to the same level as where the tripod legs meet. The centerpost should never wobble at its lowest level.
A tripod head is the most essential part of the tripod system. It is responsible for securely holding camera equipment and controlling camera movement. A modular tripod system does not come with a head and you have to buy it separately. When choosing a tripod head, always make sure that it can support at least the same amount of weight your tripod legs can.
There are three types of heads commonly available:
- Pan-Tilt Head – either with a single handle for horizontal movement or dual handles for both horizontal and vertical movement. This is the most common type of head that is typically built into cheaper tripods.
- Ball-Head – compared to pan-tilt heads, ball-heads only have one control that loosens or tightens the grip. They are very flexible and allow very smooth operation while keeping the camera/lens securely tightened.
- Gimbal Head – a specialized head for long and heavy 300mm+ lenses. Compared to pan-tilt heads and ball-heads, gimbal heads perfectly balance the camera and heavy lens and are best suited for fast-action photography. They are extremely easy to use in any direction and do not require tightening the head every time the camera/lens moves.
Every modern camera comes with a thread on its bottom that allows you to attach it to a tripod or a monopod (heavy lenses also come with a similar thread on the tripod collar). This threaded system makes it extremely inconvenient to attach cameras and lenses on tripods, because you have to either rotate the camera or the tripod to attach them together. To make it easier and more convenient for photographers, manufacturers came up with a great solution – to attach a small removable plate on the camera or lens, which then can be tightly secured on the tripod head.
Cheaper tripods come with a simple plastic plate that can be attached on any camera or lens, while some of the more expensive tripod heads come with a more durable plate. The best quick-release system, however, is the Arca-Swiss Quick Release System. It has more or less become a standard among manufacturers and it has proven to be a very effective solution for quick and easy operation. Compared to plastic plates, the Arca-Swiss Quick Release System is made of very strong aluminum and allows attaching the camera/lens on a tripod without the need to rotate anything. A quick-release plate is permanently attached to a camera or lens, which then easily slides into a quick-release clamp (pictured below). The locking mechanism is simple, yet super tight for a vibration-free operation.
A heavy tripod does not always mean that it is stable. There are plenty of tripod systems out there that are heavy and durable, yet lack the much-needed stability when used in various weather conditions. When a tripod is fully set up, it has to withstand not only wind, but also occasional bumps and knocks that might happen in the field. You always need to make sure that your camera and lens balance on a tripod rather than lean towards one direction, because you might end up damaging your equipment if the head is not fully tightened or if the front outweighs the back and everything falls on the ground.
Which Tripod Should you Buy?
Now that you are familiar with all the criteria for selecting the right tripod, you are probably wondering which tripod you should buy for your photography needs. Since I have numerously gone through the experience of shopping for tripods and have seen others do the same, let me tell you what many photographers end up doing. They first look for the cheapest tripod available that will be good enough to hold their first camera, since they have no idea if they really need it or do not know how often they would be using it. The tripod would cost between $75 and $150 for the legs and the head, which is a good price for a simple tool. Next, they purchase a longer and heavier lens and add more weight to the setup. All of a sudden, they find that the cheap tripod is not good enough and they need something more durable and stable. After making the first mistake, they suddenly realize that they need to do more research and they spend countless hours reading about tripods on different websites and forums. Despite all recommendations from the pros, they are not willing to invest on a top-of-the-line tripod with a good ball-head, so they end up getting a popular tripod system with a separate head. Seems like a great investment and the tripod seems to be much better than the previous one. After a year or two, they realize that their last purchase was not that good, because the tripod is too heavy and hard to use, especially for traveling. They realize that they should have listened to the pros in the beginning and bought a solid tripod system. Does this sound familiar? It certainly does for me, because I went through a similar experience and wasted too much effort and money.
Some Good Tripods for you
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