Monday, May 02, 2011

Travel Tripod

When I was in Victoria last fall, I couldn't find the ideal tripod for travel purposes, and ended up picking up an inexpensive Slik travel tripod, complete with built in ball head and mini-quick release plates. It was adequate and I got some lovely shots thanks to that tripod. The head though was the problem, especially for vertical shots. I normally use an L bracket from Really Right Stuff for my 5D2, so what I've done is order the smallest lever release head from the same company and will place that on this super light tripod. It's aluminum but reasonably sturdy and tall enough for travel purposes.

The big thing with a travel pod is it's nice if it can go on your backpack, which theoretically huge tripods can do, but in practice don't very well. Also, it needs to fit inside luggage when flying, and there are times a tripod that doesn't tie up both hands to carry is very nice.

Some might wonder 'why even bother with a tripod', especially with modern cameras great high ISO Imaging. For me the reasons are:

1) to be able to stop down for max. depth of field
2) shoot under marginal light - often more interesting light
3) to make blended images for incredible depth of field using Helicon Focus
4) blended exposures for HDR without the worry of misalignment of images.

These justify lugging a tripod, and if it can be a small light one without too much compromise, well all the better.

Let you know how the new combo works when I return.



Tim said...

I'd agree entirely - I don't often use a tripod myself these days either, so observe with interest how your reasons 2,3,4 are all specifically "digital imaging" rather than conventional photography of decades gone by.

But also, the first tripod I ever had - and still have - was/is a Slik, given to me by the parents for use with a funny little telescope while I was at school. I've tried to believe in Manfrotto a couple of times, but they just didn't do anything that combines the right diameter centre-column with the right sturdiness and right head options (especially when I shoot MF+LF as well). So I'm still stuck with Slik - now happily in the land of quick-release plates and 3-D heads rather than ball-heads.

Tim Gray said...

Have a look at:

That's what I use when I "shoot light" - basically with my GH2 stuff as opposed to when I lug my Canon 1DS3 and gear - for that I use the gitzo and Arca cube head.

Sandy Wilson said...

My philosophy is if the subject is not an action shot USE A TRIPOD.

If I had not bothered to carry and use a tripod on many occasions. I dread to think of how many images I would have missed through out may photographic lifetime.

When fellow photographers ask me what the next most important piece of equipment to buy after buying a camera " my reply is buy a good tripod".

On occasions I have even used a tripod for motor sport shots. Using it with the head loose in the horizontal direction for quick pan shots.

Another useful tripod I have is a small Minolta table top tripod where the legs fold flat so it can easily fit in a jacket pocket. Similar to the famous LEICA design.

This type of tripod is ideal for use in cathedrals where not conventional tripods are allowed. I just fan out the legs and lean it against a column using my body weight using a cable or electronic release.

This method gives you better height than using the back of pews or other lower vantage points.

In my opinion the way to better pictures is USE A TRIPOD.

Anonymous said...

I'll add one more to your list. A tripod forces one to slow down. It usually helps me improve my composition and to look more carefully at the sene. Steve Willard

Blotz said...

I have a hate/love relationship with tripods. Mostly hate, because I'm naturally clumsy and adding an extra part to my photographic process is asking for trouble (picture the three stooges painting a fence). Love in that i love the results when I actually use one.

Mary said...

I use a tripod when I can, but I shudder to think how many great images I would have to pass up if I insisted on using one all of the time. Sometimes, a tripod just doesn't fit in the available space or can't be used in the outrageous body positions that I put myself in to get some shots. Also, I find that the spontaneity factor really kicks in when I ditch the 'pod. Some of my worst stuff is the stuff I spend the most time on. Slowing down isn't always a good thing, I've found. I can often break the most ground by shooting really fast, without thinking and moving my body a whole lot around the subject. Can't do that with a tripod.