Though you may not see the need to lug around extra equipment while photographing, a tripod comes in handy in a lot of different situations. Even if you think you have a steady hand, a tripod guarantees stability at every moment. If you’re not convinced, here are some common situations in which a tripod helps immensely:
- Night photography: Though this may be a given, photographing at night under low-light conditions requires a slow shutter speed. If shooting any slower than 1/60 of a second, the camera is prone to shaking and will result in blurry images. The use of a tripod will ensure that you can shoot at slower speeds (which allow for a lower ISO to reduce noise) and still get a beautiful in-focus shot. See the photograph below of the motion of stars? This would not be possible without a tripod, since the shutter typically has to be open for about 30-60 minutes.
- Capturing motion: When taking action shots, such as at a sports game, panning is necessary in order to capture the sense of motion. Placing your camera on a tripod allows for easy, fluid motion to make sure that you get the perfect shot. As you can see in the photograph below, effecting panning kept the subject in focus while blurring the background. Without the background blur, the viewer would not get the sense that the subject was in motion.
- Enhancing motion: Sometimes you may want to enhance the motion of a subject instead of freezing it in time. When photographing moving water, for instance, using a slower shutter speed produces a more dynamic photograph. This photograph of a waterfall captured at a slow shutter speed feels almost dreamlike due to the softness of the water.
- Macro shots: When photographing something so small and so close, even the most miniscule of camera shakes will show up on your final image. Using a tripod will keep your camera steady and your subject sharp.
- Other situations:
– When taking nature shots where you don’t want to be seen by your subject (either for safety or to avoid scaring them away), you can place your camera on a tripod and use a remote shutter release to take photographs while you hide safely behind a bush or other object.
– When using a telephoto lens, the weight of the lens can increase camera shake. The long focal length magnifies any insignificant shake caused by you, the wind, or the mirror, and the maximum aperture is smaller than other lenses, causing a need for slower shutter speeds more often.
– If you want to shoot from a higher or lower angle than what is comfortable for you, setting up a tripod at the precise height will reduce your need to lie on the ground or find a step stool to get the perfect shot.
– If you want to make large prints of your photographs, using a tripod is necessary to ensure that your photograph is sharp and in focus. Prints made at larger sizes showcase defects much more than smaller prints.
– When shooting product photography or other still lifes, you can set up your camera and rearrange the subjects as you see fit without needing to remember exactly where the camera was placed every shot.
Though using a tripod may be unnecessary in situations such as children’s birthday parties or a casual hike in the woods, there are many situations in which your photographs will benefit from your camera having a stable surface. You may not need it all the time, but you’ll be happy to have it when the situation calls for it.