When I first purchased my tripod, almost twenty years ago, I had no idea what I was buying, in that I had done no research, but Vanbars, a photographic shop in Carlton had some on special, they looked good, so I bought one. I was lucky. Really lucky. I have never regretted that purchase and even now, I still think it is a good tripod. It has always done what I wanted and has been a fantastic tripod.
I’m not going to lie, I do want to replace it now, but not for the reasons you would think. To extend the legs it has things that screw in and out, and as I get older my hands can’t cope with the tightening anymore. I have trouble with tendinitis in my hands, so I put the tripod up and one leg will start sinking because I didn’t tighten it up enough. Annoying, but that is really the only reason why I want to replace it.
I have a Manfrotto tripod with a 190 base and 141RC head. The head can be a bit annoying, but I have got used to it. It is a great tripod for many people, but now that I am looking for a new one, there are some questions that I find myself asking, and I think you could benefit from those questions.
What sort of photography will you do that will mean you need a tripod?
I take photos of landscapes and architecture, in all different light. I want to be able to use the lowest ISO possible, and the best way to achieve that is to use a tripod. I don’t want camera shake, so again, best to use a tripod. I also do a lot of still life photograph and I need a sturdy tripod for that.
A friend had her beautiful camera on an unstable tripod, a gust of wind blew it over and her camera ended up in a mud puddle. Luckily it still worked but it scared her a lot. You don’t want your tripod doing that. You want it sturdy enough that the wind won’t matter, or you can hang a weight on it to give it more weight.
Will I be carrying the tripod around much?
Yes, I will be. I need a tripod that is heavy enough that the wind won’t blow it over, but also light enough that I am happy carrying for hours on end at times.
How tall do you want the tripod to go?
At least as tall as me. I have a friend who is tall, and she has bought a tripod that when it is fully extended it is much shorter than she is. She finds it hard to use because it make it so it is hard to look through the camera. So the tripod should be at least your height. I have heard of people saying that you should get them as high as possible, I wouldn’t do that, I don’t want to carry a step ladder with me, so chances are I will rarely put it up higher than my eye level. The one I have now, when the legs are fully extended is pretty much that height, though it does have a section the middle that can be extended up as well.
I should point out, I am short, 5 foot 2, so I don’t need a tall tripod.
Do I want aluminium or carbon fibre?
I have seen the carbon fibre ones, and I have to say, I know I want one of them. They are strong and lighter than the alloy ones. Though, I am wondering if it is the head that you place on them that makes the different.
How much do you want to pay for it?
That is going to be the thing that will determine what you get. There is no point wanting some amazing tripod, that your budget can’t handle. I have no budget right now, but I am looking at a Manfrotto tripod, but I do have to consider what else is out there. I have seen other brands here, but they don’t match up.
So to conclude, think very carefully about what you would like to use the tripod for, how much weight you want to carry, how tall you are and what your budget is.
PLEASE NOTE: All the photos in this post were taken using my tripod.
On another note, the River Muse article will not be up until Friday apparently, so I will put another link to it when it is up.