Tripod is one of the must-have accessories for a photographer. It helps you to get a steady shot, especially in low light conditions. Let us see the factors to be considered before buying a tripod. This will help you to select the right tripod.
1. Maximum Payload for the Tripod
Maximum payload is nothing but the total weight capacity of the Tripod. So, as a thumb rule go for a tripod which can support the double the weight of your equipment. This will ensure that your equipment is safe after attaching on to the tripod. Suppose your equipment which you mount (camera, lens, and flash or other accessories) on the tripod weighs 3kg, then you should buy a tripod which can hold a minimum of 6kg. This is because when you are taking pictures with your camera, you would be applying some force to the camera, which adds to the total weight. maximum payload capacity is the first and the main criteria to select the right tripod.
2. Maximum Height
Maximum height is the total height which the tripod can go in its fully unfolded condition. So, the question is what decides the height. It is actually dependent on the height of the person using it. In the fully extended condition, the photographer should be able to look through the viewfinder of the camera without bending down. So, buy a tripod which is at least of your height.
3. Weight of the Tripod
To select the right tripod you should consider the tripod weight also. Tripod weight is very critical if your photography involves lots of travel. This would be mainly applicable to travel photographer, wildlife photographer, Nature photographer and Wedding Photographer. If you are a studio photographer, then weight doesn’t matter much. Also, for an outdoor photographer, when you are traveling on flights there would be restrictions in weight which you are carrying. So, outdoor photographers should go for a lightweight tripod like the one made with Carbon fiber material instead of the heavy ones.
4. Minimum Height
Minimum height is a factor mainly concerned for macro photographers and nature photographers. People shooting nature tends to go for a lower angle which requires the tripod height to be minimum. Macro photographers want the camera to get closer to the subject which are in ground level or slightly above from ground level. So make sure that the tripod you buy meets the minimum height requirement as per your shooting purpose.
5. Folded Height
If you are a travel photographer or landscape photographer then folded length comes into the picture. Select a tripod with minimum folded length. This will ensure that the tripod goes into your bag comfortably. Also, make sure that the safe payload limit is met for the tripod
6. Type of Tightening Tripod Legs
Different tripods come with a different tightening technique for holding the legs after extending. Most of them come with quick release leg levers. It has both advantages as well as disadvantages. Advantage is that you can easily fold it as well as unfold it. But, over a period of time, it starts to become loose, which puts your equipment at risk. The other type of tightening is turning the ring in one direction to loosen and in the other direction to tighten. Here it will be sturdy but will take some time to assemble and disassemble.
7. Multiple Leg Angles
The option of multiple leg angles gives the photographer the flexibility to shoot at angles of his choice. If the surface on which you are going to keep the tripod is uneven, then this flexibility of having adjustable angles for the tripod legs are very useful.
8. Flexibility of the Central Column
Tripods with flexible central column are little costlier when compared to non-flexible ones. There are 3 types of central column you can find in the market. The first type is the one in which the central column is fixed and you need to adjust the legs to change the height. The second type allows you to adjust the height vertically up to a level. In the third type, you can flip it or invert it or put in some angle also. So, buy one which suits your requirement and budget.
9. Removable Leg option
Nowadays, there are tripods coming with removable leg option, Now, you would be thinking, why do we have to remove one leg of the tripod since it makes it unusable. This option is provided to use one of the legs as a monopod. This is useful, especially for wildlife photographers. If you are also planning to buy a monopod along with the tripod then consider going for a tripod with monopod option. This would save some cash.
10. Spirit Level
The inbuilt spirit level is very useful for landscape photographers to make sure that the camera is in level with the surface. This is very useful when shooting 360-degree photos or panoramic photos. So, Landscape photographers please ensure that there is an inbuilt spirit level in your tripod before selecting one.
11. Tripod Material
Tripods are made up of either Carbon Fiber or Aluminium alloy. Carbon fiber tripods are less heavy when compared to aluminium ones. But it will be costlier than the aluminium alloy tripods. Carbon fiber tripods are less susceptible to rust when compared to aluminium ones.
This is one of the main factors that decides which tripod to buy. If you have a budget constraint then prioritize the above factors according to your needs and make some compromise on some factors to select the right tripod for you. Never compromise on the safety of your camera equipment while making the choice.
From the above factors, shortlist what all features you would like to have in your tripod and depending on your budget buy one. Make sure that you select the right tripod for your style and type of photography.
Consider reading the following articles for photography basics: