Camera support

Like buses, you wait for one, and then two (blog posts) arrive at the same time!

Actually this title is deliberately ambiguous, though here I’m only going to post on the subject of tripods et al, not camera manufacturers and how they support camera-owners.

So, do I/you need a tripod? Well, it depends a lot on what you are shooting – for street photography a tripod really isn’t appropriate. If you can REALLY hand-hold relatively long exposures at appropriate apertures at sensible ISO, no you don’t need a tripod (but, can you REALLY do this???).  Practically, and after looking at the results, I find a tripod makes a HUGE difference, yes, in-body or lens stabilisation can make a big difference, but  in appropriate situations the tripod is the only answer for me.   [Why spend a lot of money on a good camera and lenses, then shoot in a way that camera movement is the most important factor in the resultant image quality?]

So, if you have a tripod, and use it, do you switch the stabilisation (body or lens) off? The advice is definitely to turn it off – but is your tripod really stable, even with delayed action, if the wind is blowing? I understand why the advice is to turn it off, but I remain unconvinced, and personally I’ve never seen any evidence that when I have forgotten (or just not bothered!) to turn it off that there has been any effect on the image with any of my cameras.

Tripods are quite bulky and heavy – at least those that are of any use are! Flimsy, cheap, light tripods are generally of no real use at all. Monopods – well, it may depend on how you use them (try to position and use them with your 2 legs and the monopod acting as a tripod), but some serious tests suggests that using a monopod can be worse than just hand-holding! I’ve used a Manfrotto 55 with carbon fibre legs for some years – reasonably light, quite versatile (latest versions make changing the extender from vertical to horizontal much easier, but STILL one or the other, no tilt options on the extension. Some of the Gitzos, with adjustable tilt extensions, look even better, but frighteningly expensive. Currently I’m using a 3 Legged Thing – Brian is promoted as the light, most versatile version, but Eric seems to me a much better option: yes, a little heavier and bulkier, but MUCH more rigid (I have the original Brian, and the later Eric). The latest 3LT Eric is what I use most of the time, but for some more specialised situations the Manfrotto 55 is still my choice at present. The biggest problem I have with the 3LT at present is the mounting plate – it projects beyond the camera body on the EP-3 and GF1, so that some lenses cannot be mounted without a hone-made spacer!

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About Mike Hessey

I'm a BOF (Boring Old Fellow) and MOS (Miserable Old Soul) whose main interests are photography, cycling, walking and computers. Regrettably recent problems with my legs, back and heart have reduced the cycling and walking.
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