For many, choosing a tripod is almost as hard, or even harder, than choosing a camera bag. Decisions, decisions, decisions!
I'll cover camera bags in another post. For now, I'd like to share with you what I look for in a tripod . . . actually tripods, because I have two: one for lightweight shooting (17-40mm lens and 24-105mm lens) and one for heavier duty shooting (70-200mm lens and 100-400mm lens).
Before reading on, keep in mind that I don't use 500mm and longer lenses. The longest lens I own is my Canon 100-400m ISL lens. (Click here for my gear list.)
Here are the key features and benefits that I look for in a tripod:
• Quick-release bracket for fast mounting and dismounting.
• Bubble level to level my shots.
• Ease of opening and closing - with twist locks rather than snap locks.
• Ball-head for quick horizontal and vertical shooting.
• Lightweight and compact.
• Solid as a rock.
• Height adjustment for low-level and high-level shooting.
• Size (for carry-on consideration).
• Weather resistant.
• Padded legs for comfort.
• Carry strap for hand-free shooting.
• Ease of operation.
Before you buy a tripod, check it out personally or talk with others who have used the brand and model you want to purchase. Do a web search for sure.
Good tripods (and ball heads) don't come cheap. On that note, don't cheap-out when it comes to a tripod - especially if you are into HDR photography, low-light photography, wildlife photography . . . well, you get the message.
You'll notice that my cameras are "strapless" in these photos. I removed the straps for beauty sake. When I am shooting in the field, I always use a camera strap and hold onto it when I am carrying my tripod over my shoulder . . . just in case I mess up and don't tighten the quick release bracket. I saw that happen to another photographer – and saw the smashed results on the ground. :-(
Steady as you shoot,
P.S. I actually have another tripod: my JOBY mini-tripod.