Tripods and Monopods

Professionals use them and ever more amateurs are starting to use them, often due to new techniques in panoramic photography and HDR. They are crucial in many image capturing situations. In these areas as is the case in many situations in available light photography (e.g., images captured at dusk or at night), tripods are huge aids to photographers.

Professionals use them and ever more amateurs are starting to use them, often due to new techniques in panoramic photography and HDR. They are crucial in many image capturing situations. In these areas as is the case in many situations in available light photography (e.g., images captured at dusk or at night), tripods are huge aids to photographers. Their primary function is relatively mundane, as they only ensure that the exposure period is as blur-free as possible.

The differences in shapes, sizes and material make it difficult for beginners to find the “optimal” tripod. When looking for one, compromises need to be made as often features contradict one another.

How can you find the right tripod/monopod?
Depending on where you intend to use it, certain shapes, heads and material are more or less recommendable. Be aware of the fact that tripods that are used frequently need to be of a certain height, as otherwise you will need be taking photographs in a sitting position or bent over. Tripods that are lower in height can be more comfortable to use with an angle finder or a swivel display. Do not push the centre column (if applicable) out too far. The tripod loses a great deal of stability in the process. You should ensure that the tripod is designed to bear the weight of your camera equipment. You may decide to purchase a heavier lens, different focal lengths or a flash attachment after buying the tripod. Good tripods and monopods are not always cheap, but they are worth their price. They can also last a long time.

Differences in shape and size

Monopod

Monopod  Manfrotto]

 

(-) Not suitable for longer periods of exposure and self-portraits
(+) Good for capturing images of sport combined with long focal lengths
(+) Rapid positioning of camera is possible

Tripod

Tripod  Manfrotto]

 

(+) Suitable for longer periods of exposure and self portraits
(-) Setting up and positioning can be time consuming

Table tripod

Table tripod  Manfrotto]

  Compact emergency solution
(+) Small in size and weight
(-) Low in height
(-) Generally not suitable for heavy equipment

Bean bags

 

Compact emergency solution – Used in comparable situations to the table tripod
(+) Can be made by hand (fill a cloth pouch with beans, peas and rice…close it up, place the camera on top and you’re done)
(+) Depending on dimensions, can also be suitable for heavy equipment
(-) Positioning options are limited

Clamp mount

Clamp mount  Manfrotto]

  Compact emergency solution
(+) Usually very compact
(-) There has to be something available to attach it to

Differences in weight

Light tripods/monopods
•             (+) Good for traveling due to being lightweight and small in size
•             (-) Generally not very stable
•             (-) Prone to shaking in the wind
Heavy tripods/monopods
•             (+) High level of stability
•             (+) Usually high enough
•             (+) Can dampen any vibrations effectively
•             (-) Very heavy

Differences in material
Aluminium (the most used material at the moment)
•             (+) Relatively inexpensive 
•             (+) Offers stability and is relatively lightweight
Carbon
•             (+) Does not sway as much as metal
•             (+) Very light
•             (-) Expensive
Wood
•             (-) Expensive
•             (-) Higher level of maintenance required compared to inorganic materials
•             (+) Good at dampening vibrations
Plastic
•             Mainly used for table tripods and clamp mounts
•             (-) Potentially does not offer enough stability
•             (+) Light

Tripod head
As well as the shape of the tripod, the choice of head also depends on where and what it is to be used for. The head can easily double the tripod’s price – good quality and especially the right build pay off in the long run. The head also needs to be adjusted to the weight of the camera. If possible, you should make sure that the head has a quick connect to the removable disk to secure the camera. Quick connects provide a fast and easy connection and disconnection of the camera(s). A spirit level on the head is useful, but not necessary.

We differentiate between two different types of tripod heads: three way head and ball heads. There are some other special types that are a combination of the advantages mentioned above and are designed for special usages.

Three Way Head

Three Way Head Manfrotto]

 

(+) Well suited for architectural or landscape images
(+) You can set every shaft’s movement separately
(-) You have to lock every shaft individually

Ball Head

Ball Head Manfrotto]

 

(+) Especially suited for if you want to change the image section quickly – e.g. for portraits
(+) Quick change of image section is possible – all shaft movements are set and released using the locking screw (clamping lever)

Special ball heads allow you to lock the shaft. In doing so you try to combine the advantages of the ball heads with those of the three heads.

Special types

Special types Manfrotto]

 

For special purposes – shape and size is derived from the types mentioned above

  • Fluid heads
  • Hydrostatic ball heads
  • Gear head
  • Tilt heads
  • Panoramic heads


Useful gear for tripods/monopods

Removable disk (Quick connect) Manfrotto [Abbildung: Manfrotto]Removable disk (Quick connect)

Spirit level for hot shoe  [Manfrotto]Spirit level for hot shoe

Remote shutter release (radio, cable or infrared shutter release)
Check the length of the cable, i.e., the range, the reception angles and the transmission frequency of infrared or radio remote shutter releases – some disturbance may be caused by other photographer’s radio shutter releases.

 

Angle finder or swivel displays (especially when in low working positions)


Manufacturers of tripods/monopods

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