What kind of Tripod do you have? And why? This is yet another question posed to many photographers including myself. The question is an excellent question too! There are many answers, all depending on several factors. Do you shoot fairly low, on the ground, or standing? Do you need the tripod to be taller than you because you will be on a ladder? What does your camera with lens weigh? Will you be in water? Do you need to move your camera into different angles? Are you hiking – thus toting your tripod with you? How much space do you have to shoot in?
You can see how asking for recommendations for tripods can be complicated. I cannot speak for everyone, but can tell you my own experiences. I have been through a plethora of tripods but in the end I settled on the Manfrotto 190 xprob. I started out with a very small cheap tripod that was limited on how high or low I could go, then would buckle if the weight exceeded the weight of my camera only. It was rated for much higher than it supported, but was poorly designed in the joints that open and closed the tripod. The next upgrade was a little better but had balancing issues. It felt like the balance was off and would often teeter. The thought of walking away, even with sandbags holding it in place, was out of the question. I then watched a friend at a wedding shoot – shoot a ring set with her tripod and instantly fell in love. She had the Manfrotto 190 xprob. The head was a joystick head (ball joint). She could maneuver her camera to lock it into all these different angles. It was magical. The tripod was sturdy and magnificent.
When looking at the Manfrotto I was impressed by the legs. The legs looked well built and it was! The extenders looked and felt sturdy too. If I needed tall I would not be so nervous about raising my tripod!
When shopping for your tripod you want to look at a couple things. You want strong and steady – you also want it to be able to hold the weight. Always check out the weight. What does that mean? Just what it holds? No – you also need to know what your camera with its components weigh. Me – I had to look up the Nikon D700 specs + Grip + my largest or heaviest lens, the Nikkor 70-200mm zoom lens. That lens alone is very heavy!
I needed to be able to move around at different angles. It is not uncommon in lesser quality tripods and heads for the locks to slip. That means – if you lock your camera at a 45 degree angle, the joint would slide until it catches… messing up your entire shot.
The way the head locks can be a factor. Do you like the type that pinches in place or a nob. The placement of those or ease of use can make your experience with the product enjoyable or frustrating. Go to a local camera store and try the different pieces out if you are not sure.
In my opinion – the investment in the correct tripod for you is definitely worth it. You can buy a kit with it already chosen for you – or you can find it by piece. I prefer the latter, because I can be sure to have the product with the features that are most important to me. Quality matters when shopping for tripods!
There are more Head options for your tripod than the images above.
Another option available to you – if a tripod seems too much – is the Monopod. People often like the option of a monopod because they don’t necessarily plan on walking away from the camera, but may just want a little balance support to avoid some shake. They may like the monopod for convenience of traveling or hiking with it. Other reasons one may like the monopod is location – like on a large boulder or rock of sorts. You may not have the room for a full on tripod.
Manfrotto is a trusted company amongst photographers. Should you simply ask around, you will find that many pros use their products. Asking around will verify the quality of the product. It is not popular just because of the name – the quality of the product speaks for itself. Personally, I fell in love with my Manfrotto products, so much so that I went and picked up a sling from then too carry my camera bodies in. I loved that they had white as an option. It makes for easier spotting. I loose the black bags so easily.
Yes – I veered off topic – but am pointing out how much of a great impression Manfrotto as a company with their dedication to their product and its quality resonated with me. As mentioned above, go into your local camera stores. Ask to be able to handle a tripod and view it with cameras mounted on it. Play with the heads and feel them in your hands. Being able to apply the product to how you work will help you immensely. You will be able to pinpoint what you like and dislike about each one. Before or after you do that – ask several different photographer pros or hobbyists what their preferences are and why.
If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below or join our Facebook Group for more discussion.