The less your camera moves when it is exposing the image, the sharper your images will be. Unsharp images may seem slight in a small print, but when the image is enlarged it becomes very obvious. The best device for keeping your camera still is a tripod. It is no co-incidence that professional photographers use tripods.
The steadiness of a tripod is generally proportional to its weight. The heavier the tripod is the greater the resistance to vibration.
Cross-bracing between the central column of the tripod and the legs assists with stability. Fewer leg sections generally correlate with sturdiness.
Other things to consider with a tripod are:
Fit on top of the tripod and provide a platform for the camera. There are 2 basic types of head – pan-and-tilt and ball-and-socket heads.
Ball-and-socket heads have a single locking knob, which released, allows the camera to move in any direction, which gives you complete freedom to frame your shot rapidly. However, fine adjustments are difficult.
Pan-and-tilt heads allow movement in up to three planes - tilt forwards and backwards, horizontal rotation, left and right tilt. Even though they take more time to set up they do allow you to adjust one plane at a time independently of the other planes.
Quick release plates are available with many tripods. These allow for fast and convenient mounting of your camera. If you have more than one camera body that you frequently switch they are “almost” a necessity.
Video tripods usually exclude left and right tilt, instead have longer control arms and have smoother horizontal movement to facilitate panning.
Monopods are single expandable poles that contact with the ground, and which you steady with one hand. They provide enough stability to reduce camera shake when photographing with telephoto lenses. Where it is impractical to carry a tripod with you, a monopod can be very useful.
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