To Buy or Not to Buy: 5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself before Buying a Tripod

Life is a constant battle between two conflicting ideas or forces, at the end of which everyone is forced to make a choice. When it comes to photography, in some twisted way, the battle is all the more intensified. What starts with ‘which brand and make to buy?’ goes on to ‘which lens?’ and somehow, sometimes turns to ‘To buy tripod or not to buy?’- Which is most confusing because well, some can do without it, some can’t. If you’re one of those poor souls, who are perennially clouded by this one doubt, here are a few questions you should ask yourself before going for a tripod.

-Will there be sufficient light?

This can be considered as the question of the century. Whether you’re intending to photo-shoot the stairway to heaven or the highway to hell, if you’re considering having a tripod around, this is the first question you should be asking. If the answer is ‘No’, you know what to do.

-Do I want pictures of an even quality?

As a photographer- amateur or professional- you can’t be pacified with just one shot. Multiple shots, from different angles, a different frame and perspective are just taken into consideration without any argument. That said; who wouldn’t want pictures of a steady, even quality? Having one incredibly sharp picture and some blurry pictures, just does not make sense- unless that is your real intention.

-Do I need to compose the scene?

Almost everyone will agree with great fervour, when I say that photography is nothing but a form of storytelling. Often, it is more than just seeing, focusing and clicking; it’s about conveying something that is otherwise ignored. And one of the most important elements that aid this composition and one thing that aids this is a tripod. So, when the answer to this question is a ‘yes’, you know you need the tripod.

-Do I have the time?

When I mentioned composition earlier, I certainly meant going all out and “making” a picture rather than just standing behind the lens and pushing a button. You have to set up the equipment (read: tripod), mount the camera, adjust it to the perfect height and angle, make sure it’s all stable, and then finally hit the “click” button. It can get a little tedious and time consuming (no gains without pains!). The question is- are you willing to spare some extra time? If yes, then a tripod won’t let you down.

-Will I be able to hold my breath?

What does this have to do with carrying a tripod? Let me explain. Consider a low-light situation. This means, your camera shifts into night mode, which in turn means a wider aperture and a higher ISO and a slower shutter, which in turn means it is extra crucial for you to keep hands and camera steady. And often, holding one’s breath is seen as the most desperate attempt at staying steady. However, it’s only a matter of few seconds before you feel your lungs threaten to explode like grapes in a microwave. This is where a tripod comes to the rescue. A tripod lets you use a lower ISO (ensuring lesser grains), get flexible with aperture size (improving focus), at the same time keeps the camera steady, thus producing sharp and excellent quality images.

Many will beg to differ, saying that there’s not much of a difference and that sufficient practice with handheld photography, will more or less eliminate the need for a tripod. However, take a few test shots, and you’ll know the difference.

2 comments… add one
  • Nate Weller Jan 27, 2013 @ 16:57

    I have been using a pretty old chunky tripod for the last two years I have been taking photographs. Recently, it fell apart into a million pieces.

    As much as I hated how big and heavy it was, it was extremely useful and every time I am taking photographs I wish I still had it.

    • Deborah E Jan 28, 2013 @ 22:03

      Hope you find a tripod that works well for you. Nothing can replace what we loved using, but hopefully the next one will be easier for traveling.

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