How many tripods are too many? This is a question I find myself pondering whenever I get that urge to sort and organize through my photography equipment. I currently own four, of various shapes and sizes and honestly, I rarely use any of them but there is something in me that just can’t and won’t part with them. I know they’re useful so why don’t I ever take them out with me?
First things first, I’m primarily a portrait photographer so it’s not like I need one for a lot of the stuff I shoot. You’ll usually find me lying on the ground, squatting in weird positions or climbing on top of things to get the perfect angle so a tripod is pretty much, obsolete. I do occasionally take self-portraits using my trusty Manfrotto 055 MT055CXPRO3 as it’s sturdy, has a spirit level built in, and is easy to set up to use in portrait mode, I also prefer the quick-release locks (as opposed to the twist lock legs).
At 2kg it certainly isn't light so I mostly use it to shoot self-portraits at home or on the rare occasion I shoot them outside, I purposely pick a location that is close to my car so that I don’t have to carry a million and one things all on my own.
I love to shoot landscapes but only for fun and there have been so many times when I’ve arrived at a particularly beautiful destination on Dartmoor or by the sea (living in the South West of England I am surrounded by coastline and natural beauty) and have kicked myself for not sticking my Manfrotto Elements Traveller Carbon fiber tripod in the boot of my car.
On the rare times I have remembered my tripod I’ve unpacked it only to realize I’ve forgotten a very crucial element - the baseplate. I’m usually not a fan of long-exposure photography but I can get behind dreamy shots of the magical waves against a sunset backdrop, but every single time I find myself at a beach it’s either completely spontaneous or not the time to be whipping s tripod out (busy beaches, kids and dogs give me palpitations).
Two of the tripods I own are compact, desktop tripods such as the Benro KoalaPod and three-legged things. These are actually the two I used the most as they have an adapter for my phone and I can easily keep them in my camera backpack without them adding much weight. The Benro one is particularly good as you can extend and bend the legs around things but I would never trust it with the weight of my Sony A7 III and Sigma 28- 70mm f/2.8 DG DN lens so I’ve never used it to take “professional” shots.
Now of course, when it comes to astrophotography you cannot work without a tripod but I’ll be the first to confess, it’s not an area of photography I’ve ever dabbled in all that much. I’ve had a couple of fairly poor attempts but I much prefer results that you can see instantly. To all the people who do it well, I salute you, it requires more patience than I have and the results are stunning but
Ultimately, the reason for me not using my tripods comes down to three things; laziness, forgetfulness and wrong time wrong place. When you’re on a hike, even the lightest carbon fiber tripods add a lot of weight to your bag when you’re already carrying a camera, a couple of lenses, my DJI Mini 2, plus food, water, and extra layers so unfortunately my poor tripods often remain in the corner, gathering dust and hoping that one day they’ll see the light of day.