8 tripod mistakes every photographer makes (and how to get it right)

8 tripod mistakes every photographer makes (and how to get it right)

A tripod is one of the most essential accessories available to a photographer, but it’s also one of the most misused. Our Head of Testing, Angela Nicholson, looks at some of the most common mistakes that photographers make with their tripod and explains how to avoid them.

8 tripod mistakes every photographer makes (and how to get it right)

Common Tripod Mistakes: 1. Flimsy tripod

Not surprisingly many photographers are a little strapped for cash after buying their first serious camera and lens.

It’s only natural therefore, that they are drawn towards the cheaper end of the market when selecting a tripod.

Sadly, this can be a false economy as many bargain tripods lack the stability that’s required to hold a camera steady.

Rather than rushing into buying a flimsy tripod, which need to be replaced when it’s found not to hold the camera still in a light breeze, it’s better to save a little longer and buy a decent tripod.

Buying the right model first time around will save you money in the long run.

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Before you buy, think carefully about how you intend to use your camera and the type of tripod that will be most useful.

If you want to shoot lots of macro and still life photography at home, then a large, heavy tripod will serve you well.

If you plan on shooting landscapes that are a long walk from the car, however, you may want something a little smaller and lighter.

Combine lightweight with stability pushes the cost up, but it will pay dividends in the end.


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Common Tripod Mistakes: 2. Leaving the tripod behind

Photography Tips: use a tripod

It can be tempting to leave your tripod behind when you’re heading out for a day with your camera, it’s bulky and awkward to carry and using it slows you down at every stop.

But if you want to get the best from all those pixels on your camera’s sensor it’s really worth taking one with you.

SEE MORE: 3 ways to hold a camera when a tripod isn’t possible

High pixel-count cameras like the Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E, for example, need to be stock-still and used in mirror lock-up or exposure delay mode to get the benefit of their resolving power if the shutter speed is below around 1/125th second.

If you really hate carrying your tripod, maybe it’s time to invest in a model that’s specifically designed for easy transport.

Or perhaps you need to look for a new bag or strap that makes it easier to carry?


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  • Steve

    Re: #7 Weighting the Tripod. If I’m not lugging my camera bag around with me to use as a weight, I always take a plastic carrier bag with me. Filled with stones or small rocks, this is a really handy way to improvise a weight for your tripod.

  • That’s a great tip, thanks for sharing!

  • Steve Raynor

    I have 3 large jar lids in my bag that make superb mudfeet for the tripod. They are kept in a plastic carrier bag, so if I’m not near water to wash them, they go straight into the bag without the worry of muck and sand getting everywhere.