What is a tripod

As the very name implies (“tri” means “three”), an average tripod is a three-legged construction for stabilizing a camera. Apart from legs, this accessory also has a head, where you can securely mount your photo- or video-shooting device. Tripods can be used in many ways. For example, for:

  • Taking selfies (you’ll need to set a delay at your timer);
  • Using heavy telescopic or zoom lenses;
  • Finding a perfect position for an ideal photo;
  • Trying different settings in various combinations;
  • Creating artistic pictures with extremely slow shutter speed.

Buying such a device, you should take into account many different parameters of tripods.

First of all, their physical dimensions, material and weight – after all, you’ll have to wear a tripod as an essential part of your photographer’s kit. Then, you have to consider types of the tripod’s head and legs, as there are quite a lot of them. Last but not least, pay attention to their functionality and additional features.

Different types of tripods

In fact, there is no general classification, so we can define tripod types according to different points of view and systems:

  1. Expertise level

    Tripod models for professionals and beginners differ in lots of ways, and not least in price. If you are just starting your long journey in video- and photography, there is no use in blowing large sums on costly and complicated gear.

    Sets for amateurs are usually made with inseparable legs and heads; they have no interchangeable parts. Advanced systems allow more customization. The best beginner’s choice is an “All-in-One” tripod, which has all the necessary features and functions, doesn’t require any tiresome maintenance and costs a reasonable price.

  2. Shooting location

    Studio tripods tend to be quite heavy for better stability, while travel models must be lighter and shorter. They have to be also compatible with most device types, including DSLR cameras or common smartphones, as during an “open air” shooting a photographer can’t change equipment often.

  3. Size of a tripod

    Tabletop tripods are often fitted with flexible legs so that you can attach them to the handrails and fences or they may stand on a flat surface.

    Pocket models are also quite small, and their legs and heads are usually inseparable.

    Tall solutions may be used wherever you need, but they are not as handy as smaller ones and the most advanced models can be quite clumsy.

  4. Material

    Aluminum is durable, reliable and cheap, but the drawback of this material is its weight. Another point – moisture and rough conditions may corrupt this metal drastically.

    Carbon fiber is a more modern solution, this material is not susceptible to rust, it’s lightweight and elegant. Unfortunately, it may be quite fragile and it should be carried with great care.

  5. Head styles

    • Three-way head is the most classical type, it moves in three directions: vertically, horizontally, and it rotates 360 degrees.
    • Ball head is lighter, it’s more modern and it has less levers and handles to control.
    • Gimbal head is mostly used by professional photographers. It’s quite big and heavy, but it has the maximum load capacity and can support telescopic lenses. This type of head can also fix the last position of the cam.
    • Fluid head is considered ideal gear for videographers as it has a minimum resistance and moves incredibly smoothly.

  6. Leg styles

    • Flip or twist locks. The former is an easy-to-use system with simple “flips”, which fix the extended leg in the chosen position. The latter is a system where you have to twist an element of a leg to fix it. This system doesn’t let any dirt in, but it may be a little more complicated for inexperienced users.
    • Legs number. While the majority of tripods have three legs, there are also monopods with a single leg that just helps a photographer out to hold a heavy cam and minimizes shakes and jerks. You may also find two-legged constructions.

How to choose a tripod

No matter how many guides you read, you will never find a 100% clear and conclusive answer, as it’s you, who knows your budget limits, shooting conditions and expertise level.

But whatever you choose, any tripod will help you to increase the quality of your pictures and recordings. And for quick post-shooting editing you can always use our free online tools.