What Type of Tripod Do You Need?
A tripod is a tool that every photographer should have. They help you create steady shots. There are a lot of different tripods out there, so how do you know what is right for you? Well the answer is dependent on what kind of camera you are using and what you are planning to shoot.
Tripods designed for shooting photos are not as heavy duty as their video counter parts. You want to have two tripods in your equipment arsenal. The first one will be your work horse. When looking for this one, there will be two factors in your decision making process: how high can it go and how much weight can it support?
The weight factor is important because, even though your camera might be pretty light, that huge telephoto lens you love may be triple the camera's weight. You don't want the head of the tripod to buckle under pressure or for the tripod to fall and break your stuff. Get something that can handle your gear plus a margin of error. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
You want a tripod that can be very small when it's collapsed, but you also want it to be able to go up a little high. Get a tripod that not only extends at the legs, but can also extend up in the center column. Some tripods use gears while others can be raised up and locked by hand. It's really a personal preference and neither is better. As long as you can get the extra height, you'll be fine.
When you're shooting something small like tabletop or macro, you may want a small tripod to get you as close to the action as possible. There is a fairly new tripod called a gorilla pod with bendable legs that seems like it can get you closer to the action than the standard one-size aluminum legs. You should get one of the normal aluminum tripods before a gorilla pod, since more joints means more opportunities for something to break.
Video tripods are more heavy duty than their photo counterparts. Again, select a tripod that can support your camera's weight. You also want to pick a video tripod that has a fluid head. A fluid head makes camera movements like pan and tilts smooth. Instead of abrupt stops, the fluid head feathers the camera and avoids jerky movements.
Get a tripod that has a removable plate. The plate screws to your camera and connects to the tripod. With a quick flick, you can remove the camera from the tripod to go hand held and you can easily put it back on when you're done. You should also get a tripod that is black because the shinny aluminum ones can reflect lights.