Tripod is not only a very funny Australian comedy trio but it’s also an essential tool for getting the best out of your camera and lenses. Of course you need a tripod for long exposures (unless you have bionic arms and can lock the motors) but every single shot you do should be made from a tripod with a cable release if you want ultimate quality from your gear. The difference really is very noticeable! Here’s an 8 second exposure from just after dusk at Lake Peblinge in Copenhagen today (one of the bloody angry Swans at the lake almost attacked me during this shoot!). At this size you can’t tell but it is a perfect tack sharp shot due to tripod, mirror lock-up and cable release. I did a 30 second exposure at iso50, also super sharp but this 8 second one had the best reflection on a windy afternoon. Click to see larger:
Every hand held shot suffers from camera shake, it’s just a matter of degree. In broad daylight shooting handheld at 1/500 you still have camera shake. To make matters worse, on a SLR camera you also have the slap from the mirror adding even more camera shake! Stick your camera on a tripod with a quality lens, use mirror lock-up function (very important!) to avoid mirror slap and a cable release – and you get tack sharp images you won’t believe!
Having said that I used to hate shooting with tripods and I just owned a cheap heavy Manfrotto (still use the bag!) that I didn’t use much. Takes the fun out of it, I like to jump around, shoot all sorts of angles (like an artist doing sketches) and have freedom. And sometimes there’s no time, I have maybe 20 minutes of good sunset and dusk light and want to bring as much data home, get as many different compositions as possible. This requires me running around the scene like a man obsessed with a big smile on my face (you should’ve seen me at Hawk Dreaming)
Having seen the difference in image quality and gone professional I realize now there’s no substitute – I need shots on tripod, mirror lock-up and with cable release to get max image quality and be able to deliver the fine art images I strive for. So courtesy of the great guys at my favorite shop in Copenhagen Photografica – I now own the amazing Gitzo carbon tripod (with Gitzo ballhead) shown on the right! It is actually so light I have no problem bringing it everywhere. The tripod including ball head weighs only 1.5 kilos! (my camera bag with Canon 5D + lenses is the problem and what’s killing my shoulder, must be 5 kilos at least)
I’m still not a big fan of tripod shooting but at least I now have a fantastic Gitzo. Until I can get those bionic arms, this carbon tripod is now a part of me!
EDIT: Forgot to add that this means I can also get started on my Copenhagen By Night photo project!