How important are tripods? Do I really need a tripod?
These are questions we often field from aspiring and new professional photographers.
Several decades ago, camera tripods were heavy, bulky, limited in features and difficult to setup. This earned them a poor reputation, making many photographers believe that for most types of photography, the hassle of toting one to a shoot outweighed the benefits.
Since then, tripods have dramatically evolved, making them one of the most critical pieces of equipment for photographers today – from generalists to the highly specialized.
We asked some of our favorite pro photographers and creative professionals for their thoughts about the role of tripods in their work. Here’s what they said:
1. Images shot using a tripod are sharper.
Simply put, tripods provide stability that can’t be matched when held by hand.
"There's a noticeable difference between photographs taken using a tripod and those without,” said Donna Halinski Hondorp, PR/media relations pro and former broadcast news producer. “Images taken using a tripod are sharper and therefore, when supplied to news outlets, more likely to be published, increasing media coverage. That’s why we always recommend that our clients have photos taken by a professional photographer and emphasize the importance of tripod use. That will ensure blur-free shots.”
2. Many tripods travel well and are quick and easy to set up.
“The tripod is the essential key to good photography,” said David Talley, photographer and educator. “I shoot with a tripod more often than I shoot without one. For travelers like myself, having something easy and quick to set up is the key to successful imagery and photos I am happy with. The VEO is my go-to, and I usually keep one in the car on-hand at all times. It’s also perfect for my trips back to Australia every few months, since it’s so small. On top of all of that, I never have to worry about it being damaged because it’s so sturdy. It just feels solid in the hand AND with the camera. I’ve used it as a steady-cam successfully on more than one occasion.”
3. Tripods are critical for long-exposure or low-light shoots.
“Without a reliable tripod and head, you simply can’t capture long-exposure images with ND [neutral-density] filters during the day nearly as well,” said photographer and creative Bryan Minear. “If you’re interested in this style of photography, which tends to be one of my favorites, what you use to support your camera and lens is a critical part of the process.”
4. Tripods are versatile, serving an important role in different types of photography.
“I always tell photographers that tripods, heads, bags and cases can be as important as the camera,” said accomplished generalist photographer Floyd Dean. “You want to have a reliable system with heads and plates that work seamlessly together. I wouldn’t be without my Alta Pro tripod. It’s never failed me in any location. It’s lightweight and solid. The VEO tripod is designed for travel and perfect for tethered shooting.”
Portraiture photographer Kiara Rose agreed.
“If you want to experiment with self-portraits, long exposures, creative portraiture, etcetera, a solid tripod is a must,” she said.
5. Tripods support cameras and lenses with reliability so you can focus on creativity.
Even the lightest camera bodies and lenses can cause fatigue when you’re shooting. Using a tripod will spare you this tire and enable you to focus on capturing emotion in the shoot, not the equipment.
“Many shots would be simply impossible without use of a tripod,” said accomplished businessman and wedding photographer Willian Innes. “My Alta Pro tripod is sturdy. I never worry about my camera’s safety. My camera never moves from exactly where I need it to be.”
Check out more of our recent interviews with these pros: