More Essential Tripod Features

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More Essential Tripod Features

I wrote a short buyers guide last summer about tripods called Essential Tripod Features. I of course covered all the basics when it comes to buying a tripod. I recently bought myself a new tripod. Rather than keep all my research and experiments to myself, I thought that I should follow up with a list of some more Tripod Features. This list, unlike the first, is moving more into the intermediate and advanced options. None of these features are absolutely necessary, but they certainly make your job much easier.

  • Click-Out Legs – Most of your semi-pro and pro level tripods don’t have that cross-bar that holds your legs in place. Those cross-bars limit the range of motion, and they can limit your creativity. Click-Out Legs (also referred to as Independent Leg Spread) allow you extend the angle of each leg separately. This permits you to get your camera really close to the ground or set your camera up on weird terrain. Click-Out Legs are essential for close-up photography, but they will help you with all forms of photography.
  • Removable Head – The type of head you use will greatly depend on what type of photography you are doing. Landscape photographers may want a pan and tilt head or a geared head so they can accurately fine tune their composition. Ball heads are popular in other forms of photography as they are fast and easy to use. But the point is that you might want different heads for different circumstances, and it would be incredibly useful if you could change your head to fit your needs without needing an additional tripod.
  • Carbon Fiber Legs – Five pounds doesn’t sound like much weight, but when you’re lugging around your five pound tripod for most of the day, it can get excessive. Thanks to carbon fiber, there are lighter tripods. Carbon Fiber tripods are not cheap, but if you’re a landscape photographer or if you always have your tripod in tow, it may be worth the price.
  • Comfort Grip or Handle – Some tripods have a padded comfort grip or handle to make for easy carrying. If you shoot in cold weather, the grips have the added bonus of being warmer than the cold aluminum or carbon fiber. This might seem like a luxury feature, but once you have a grip or handle, you won’t know how you lived without it.
  • Spiked Feet – Spiked feet can go where rubber feet cannot. This is essential for landscape photographers: Those padded rubber feet don’t work well everywhere. If you’ve ever shot on a steep slope, you know why these are essential. Many tripods allow you to attach spiked feet when necessary. Some tripods even have retractable or flip-out spikes for added convenience
  • Reversible Center Column – Close-up and macro photographers will find some benefit in a reversible center column. By reversing the column, you are able to literally mount your camera under the tripod. With the right head or arm attached, you will be able to get really close to your subject or create unique perspectives.

In my first article, I spoke about the cost of buying a good tripod. With the features listed above, you can expect to spend a couple hundred dollars (USD) to get just the legs. A head might be a couple hundred more. But again I would like to point out that if you are passionate about photography and if you have a decent amount of equipment, spending extra cash for a good tripod will certainly serve you well. Especially consider the fact that if you have a good tripod, it may very well out live your camera body.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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