Tripod stability: 5 tips to make your tripod more stable
Nature Photography Star Trails Photography Travel Photography
Pixean
April 26, 2019

Whenever we think of sharp images, we focus on the camera and the lens. The prices of the camera body and the lenses start playing in and around our minds. The general thought is that the costlier the camera gear the better the quality of images. What we fail to notice is that even basic camera gear can produce sharp images. The sharpness and quality of the images don’t entirely lie in the hands of your camera body or lens. Stability is a critical aspect of image sharpness and hence a tripod or a stabilizer plays a major role too. Tripods are not actually given a lot of attention by beginners and therein lies their biggest mistake. A quality tripod is as important as a quality lens. Even if you are shooting with top quality lenses, your images might not be as sharp as expected if you are not using a proper stabilizing tool. Let us take a look at the importance of a tripod and how can we make our tripods more stable…

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Image courtesy: DHgate.com

No human-camera contact

When you have mounted the camera gear on to the tripod, you should start avoiding the human-camera contact. This is because that contact might introduce shakes in the image and thereby nullify the impact of the tripod. This is especially important in cases of long exposure shots. When you are shooting at very slow shutter speeds, you have to make sure that the chances of shakes are absolutely minimal. If you try to press the shutter button while operating on very slow shutter speeds like 1 second or below, you are bound to have a lot of shakes in your image. Even the minutest shake can actually spoil your long exposure shot. To avoid this, you need to use a remote shutter release cable. This is a device that can be plugged into your camera in order to operate the camera remotely. This is a cheap device that is readily available in markets. You can also use the self-timer option on your camera. Most cameras have the self-timer option. A 2-second self-timer can be helpful in landscape photography but when some candid or action shots need to be taken, you will have to resort to using the remote shutter cable. These solutions must be kept in mind when you are out there in the field with your tripod.                                                                                                                                                                    

  1. The tripod legs: Low center of gravity results in maximum stability. The height of the tripod can be reduced by spreading out the tripod legs as much as possible. Low angle shots, landscape shots, and ground level shots can be shot by spreading out the legs as far as possible. The height of the tripod is reduced and this lends further stability. There is a middle leg in most of the tripods. It is always recommended not to use this leg to increase the height of your camera gear. You should only use this as your last option. The legs of the tripods are foldable and they decrease in diameter as you go down. As a result, the last set of legs are way thinner than the first set. Thus you should be wary of using the thinner legs in windy conditions. The thicker part of the leg is obviously way more stable. Therefore, if the conditions are far from perfect, you should only use the thicker parts of the legs and keep the thinner parts retracted. This will help you achieve more stability and also keep your camera gear at a lower height.

  2. The middle leg: The middle leg is present in most of the tripods. Some special wildlife photography tripods do not have the middle leg since that helps the camera gear get down to the ground level. The middle leg should not be used to increase the height of the camera gear unless it becomes absolutely mandatory. The middle leg is quite thin and offers very little stability. The advantage of having this middle leg is that it has a hook attached to it at the end. This hook can be used to suspend additional weights in order to lend more stability. Suspend extra weights like sandbags from the hook of the middle leg especially if you are operating in windy conditions.

  3. Use the collar mounts: If you are using heavy lenses, chances are that the entire setup won’t be very stable. A long and heavy lens coupled with a professional camera body can be too heavy for a basic tripod. The way around to this is by mounting the lens on to the tripod rather than the camera body. Most telephoto lenses come with a separate collar mount on their bodies. This mount makes sure that the camera gear can be mounted on to the tripod while reducing chances of the gear bending your tripod down. The collar mount means that the entire camera gear is mounted from the very middle of the setup rather than from one end.

  4. Other factors: Most of the tripods have rubber feet. In some of the tripods, these can be removed to reveal small spikes. These spikes can help you achieve more stability in muddy conditions rather than the normal rubber feet. When you are buying a tripod, make sure that the maximum weight bearing capacity of the tripod is more than double the weight of your heaviest camera gear. This is a rule that is followed by most professional photographers. While you are shooting from a tripod, turn off the image stabilization of your lens. This feature actually triggers minor shakes in order to counter the handheld-camera shakes. Remember to use the mirror lockup option too. The continuous movement of the mirror can also result in minor shakes. These can be eliminated using this feature.

 

Image sharpness depends on the stability of your camera gear setup as much as the quality of the camera and lenses. Make sure that the tripod you are buying is stable enough to take you through all your shoots!

Nature Photography Star Trails Photography Travel Photography
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