How Do I Choose the Best Digital Camera Tripod?

B. Miller

Purchasing a digital camera tripod can allow you many more photographic opportunities, particularly when shooting macro photography or when using a slow shutter speed, such as in low light situations. This is because these are instances in which it is very important the camera stays perfectly steady, to prevent image blur. To choose the best digital camera tripod, begin by considering the height you want, as well as the weight of the camera to ensure that the tripod can support it. Then, consider the head of the tripod, which is where the camera is attached to the tripod, and whether or not it is interchangeable, which adds more versatility.

A digital camera.
A digital camera.

A digital camera tripod generally has three height adjustable legs on each side, and may also have a straight leg in the middle for extra stability. The ability to adjust the height on the tripod is important, but it will generally only be within a specific range. If you know you want a particularly tall tripod, for taking portraits for example, you will want to be sure to purchase a taller one initially than attempting to rely on a shorter tabletop digital camera tripod. Many people have more than one tripod for different purposes; a newer type of digital camera tripod features bendable legs, allowing the tripod to be mounted or attached to slightly unstable surfaces, which can be beneficial in some instances.

A tripod should be able to handle the weight of your digital camera.
A tripod should be able to handle the weight of your digital camera.

Another consideration when selecting a digital camera tripod is the head, which is what allows the camera to be mounted on the tripod. Pan-and-tilt heads are most common, and these allow the camera to be panned up and down and side to side. Ball-and-socket heads allow a bit more movement than the pan-and-tilt heads do, but they may be slightly less stable and prone to small movements. Some tripods feature interchangeable heads for this reason, and for the professional or serious hobbyist, this could be a big plus.

One of the most important features to keep in mind when purchasing a digital camera tripod is the weight of the camera. Small, point and shoot digital cameras weigh significantly less than a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera, particularly with a large lens or flash added to it. Though plastic tripods may be cheaper than others, such as those made of titanium, they generally cannot support a heavier camera and are much less stable, even with small cameras. Being sure to choose a tripod that is designed to match the weight of your camera will ensure it is stable, helping to ensure clear pictures as well as ensuring that the camera does not topple over and become damaged.

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