Why You Should Use a Tripod

In the 1960’s Honda motorcycle’s tag line was “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda.” Last week I’d have thought you meet the nicest people shooting with a tripod. I was at McCabe Meadows making infrared images with the Pentax K-1 (Look for an in-depth review on Shutterbug’s site real soon now…) when a women carrying an SLR asks, “what’s up there?” I held up the IR filter and said I’m making an infrared picture of the tree. We had a pleasant chat and within a few second a cyclist passes by, stops and asking  “is there a nest up there?” And so I explain it to him..

Joe with custom Tiltall tripodIn this day of image stabilized and vibration reduction lenses as well as anti-shake capabilities built into camera bodies, you might wonder if you even need a tripod? I think so and let me tell you why:

Hold it steady. I can’t hold a one-second or more exposure steady and you probably can’t either.

Portraits: Some photographers prefer to have the camera on a tripod so the subject can look at them instead of seeing a face blocked by a camera.

Increase depth-of-field: When you want to work at smaller apertures, especially for those macro shots, you’ll need a tripod to hold the camera steady.

Photography with Filters: Infrared photography often requires opaque filters that produce slow shutter speeds that even the best anti-shake or image stabilization technologies can’t handle.  Shutter speed for the below digital infrared photograph made through the somewhat opaque Cokin 007 aka 89B filter was one second.


Tripods come in many sizes from tiny tabletop models to heavy-duty camera stands for studio use. Because of the availability of so many types, sizes, construction materials, styles, and even colors, there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution, and like eating potato chips you can’t have just one. That’s why most of us end up with a collection of camera supports with different tripods used for different kind of tasks.



My book The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is currently out of print but you can get an affordable used copy or not-so-affordable new copies of the book from Amazon.com.

Author: Joe Farace

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