Photo Tours Workshops North America

Tripods for Nature Photographers

Fall foliage river

Fall foliage river

It is important to buy a good tripod. Nature photographers are often shooting in low light which makes a tripod critical. Tripods give you many options to get the highest quality image. I urge my participants on my photo tours and workshops to buy a good tripod. A tripod is a portable three-legged frame, used as a platform for supporting the weight and maintaining the stability of some other object.

A tripod provides stability against downward forces and horizontal forces and movements about horizontal axes. The positioning of the three feet away from the vertical centre allows the tripod better leverage for resisting lateral forces. Every aspect of photography has it pro and cons. Tripods have some significant disadvantages. They are heavy especially with the camera body and lens attached. They take up extra space and are inconvenient to call around and travel with. Tripods get in the way at crowded places. A tripod can slow you down. The pros outweigh the cons. Your photography will be much better with a tripod.

I often hear two myths for not using a tripod.

1.) Just use a higher shutter speed to compensate for no tripod.

2.) I have Image Stabilization (IS) or Vibration Reduction (VR): This is great technology but no substitute for no having a tripod.

There are a couple of occasions when I actually do not use a tripod.

1.) Birds in Flight. If I do not use a Gimbal Head I find it easier to photo birds in flight handheld.

2.) Sometimes when you are on a boat and you pick up the vibration from the engine and you will actually get sharper pictures by not using a tripod

Tripods are critical for many reasons.

1.) They allow for sharper photos.

2.) If you need to increase the DOF you lose some shutter speed. Sometimes the shutter speed gets so low that you can’t even shoot without a tripod.

3.) To support camera gear, lenses, flashes and other accessories.

4.) A tripod allows you to use a lower ISO with give you better quality and less noise.

5.) Allows you to shoot HDR and Panoramic photos which require strong placement of compositions.

6.) Steady Videos

7.) Night photography

8.) Close up macro photography which requires for a larger DOF and slower shutter speed

9.) Using a timer or cable release.