Ask any photographer what the most important piece of gear is beside the camera and lenses and you will most often hear a tripod. No matter what time of photography you are going to focus on. A tripod is the most important one to have.
Filters, Flashes, and lights are nice to have. But they are nowhere near as useful as the tripod. The tripod is great for many different photography styles. From Astrophotography to wedding photography and almost everything in-between. The only thing a tripod really isn’t useful for is street photography.
So should you invest in a tripod?
It should be the first thing you purchase after you get your camera. Below you will find the reasons for why you need a tripod. Some you would expect, while others you might not. If you think of other reasons. Let us know in the comments below.
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There is just no way around this one. If you want to do any type of long exposure you are going to need a tripod. Pretty much anything that is going to be longer than 1/50th of a second. We just can’t keep our hands steady enough to not have any camera shake.
You can try it for yourself if you don’t believe me. Just try to do it at night. The low light conditions can really show how shaky your hands were. Even if you thought you were steady as can be.
Getting the streaks of lights from cars on the road would be impossible without a tripod.
Or getting that smooth look from a waterfall.
A tripod is a must if you want to do any type of long exposure.
If you are planning on shooting in low light you will need a tripod. Low light and long exposures kind of go hand and hand. The longer your shutter is open, the more light you let in.
Without a tripod. Again shooting in low light conditions is almost impossible unless you bump up the ISO. Putting your ISO too high will leave your image grainy. Prevent that by using a tripod.
No question about it. Astrophotography can NOT be done without a tripod. Of course, to really do it well you will need other equipment like a sky tracker. But you can’t use that without a tripod.SkyWatcher S20582 Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini (SAM) Pro Pack , B&W
The first time you capture a glimpse of the Milky Way Galaxy is breathtaking. I will never forget the first time I captured it. The photo wasn’t very good at all. The stars were all streaking since I didn’t have a sky tracker and had my shutter opened for a little over a minute. But since that day I continue to try and get that perfect Milky Way image. Below is a non-Milky Way shot I was able to capture near Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania.
Now you don’t NEED a tripod to do landscape style photography but it definitely helps out. If you want to take multiple shots of the same landscape. You will need a tripod to make sure each photo is the exact same. This is needed if you plan on stacking them together to make one photo with everything exposed correctly.
With shooting landscapes you normally want to have an aperture of f/8 at the very least. This helps to get more of your image in focus. By using a smaller aperture you let less light in. When you have less light coming in you need to use a slower shutter speed.
As we already know when using a slower shutter speed. It is best to use a tripod to keep the camera steady.
You really can’t take your DSLR or Mirrorless camera and turn it around for a selfie like you can with your cell phone. These types of cameras are not really made for that. While you can find people doing it with video all the time. When it comes to a self-portrait, it doesn’t really work.
Instead, you need to use a tripod and the self-timer on your camera. I mostly go out alone. Rarely will I have someone else with me that knows how to use my camera as I do. Of course, I always try to show them if they are willing to learn.
If I want to get a photo with myself in it, I set the camera up and either use the app for my camera or the timer on the camera and run.
Using a tripod when taking portraits is very helpful. You might not think it is but hear me out. You get your subject set up with the background and have the camera dialed in just to see that the lighting is a bit off. If you readjust the lighting without a tripod you have to recompose your shot.
But with a tripod, everything is still in the right spot. You can keep going back and forth making adjustments without having to move the camera.
A time-lapse is a series of photos taken of the same subject over a set period of time. Since you are taking the same photo time after time. You want everything to line up. If you don’t have a tripod it is impossible to achieve this.
If you are trying to get some close-up shots a tripod will come in hand. Typically you are zoomed in and any little movement will either take your subject out of view or focus. A tripod helps keep everything in the frame.
Of course, you don’t need a tripod when doing close-ups. But it will definitely help. The next time you want to capture an insect on a leaf. Try using a tripod. I’m willing to bet the image will come out better than if you tried the handheld method.
If you get a tripod that can easily pan left and right you can get some amazing action shots.
Catching a guy on a bike and the only thing in focus is the biker and the background appears to be moving.
You can do that in sports, car racing, even with animals. You can achieve this without the use of a tripod. But the tripod helps keep everything level.
With Telephoto Lenses
Much like close up photography. Using a telephoto lens can be a bit of a challenge without a tripod. Any little movement can see the subject disappear from the frame.
Have you ever tried zooming in on the moon? Any little movement throws the moon out of view and you have to find it again. If you were using a tripod you wouldn’t have to worry about that. The same thing goes if you are out shooting wildlife.
As you can see a tripod is one of the most important pieces of gear a photographer can own. Not only will it help your photos come out that much better. People around you will think that you are the real deal even if you are just “faking it till you make it”.
While I don’t think you need to buy an expensive Manfrotto tripod like the Manfrotto Travel Befree Live Aluminium Tripod. Don’t buy the cheapest one you can get either. Getting one between $50 and $75 is a great start like this one. You want to make sure the tripod can hold your camera’s weight. Getting one that has a ball head is also a good idea but not a must-have. For me, it is but that is just my style.
Are you thinking about getting into photography or just starting out? Check out our post about Photography terms you need to know. Or check out our photography starting guide. Photography is a fun hobby that can get you back out in nature and exploring the world around you from many different angles.
Can you think of other reasons why you need a tripod? Let us know in the comments below. If you found this helpful let us know by sharing it on your social media. Also, be sure to follow us on our different social media accounts. We are a small page but slowly growing with the help of people like you.