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

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

Common Tripod Mistakes: 5. Not leveling the shoulder

9 secrets to using a tripod like a pro: use a spirit level

Many tripods have a spirit-level built-into the shoulders which enables you to see whether the legs are creating a level platform for the head.

Although many tripod heads also have a spirit-level, it’s generally best practice to use the legs to get the shoulder’s level.

SEE MORE: The best way to use a ball head tripod mount

The most important reason for this is to ensure that the tripod is properly balanced.

If it isn’t, it may not take much, just a change of lens angle or a gust of wind, for it to tip over and your camera to come crashing down.

Another problem with leveling the camera via the head rather than the legs is that the camera may not be level when you move it.

This is a particular problem when panning to follow a moving subject.


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Common Tripod Mistakes: 6. Carrying the camera on the tripod

How to carry a tripod: step 1

You often see photographers walking with their extended tripod over their shoulder with the camera still mounted, but it’s a pretty risky thing to do.

The change in angle can cause what seemed liked a locked head to come loose, for example, and if it tilts down just as you’re walking passed a wall, it could be curtains for your camera.

And there are always slapstick moments when you misjudge the length of the tripod and bash your camera on a nearby tree, wall or fellow photographer.

As most tripod heads have a quick release plate, not removing the camera from a tripod only saves you a few seconds time.


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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.