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In a perfect world, all photos would be taken with a camera on a tripod. The reason is simple: stability is the key to maximum sharpness.
If the camera doesn’t move while taking an image, the shutter will be able to stop the motion and capture a photo where every little detail is clear and precise. This is the signature of a photographer who has mastered technique.
Photographers all agree tripods are a rather cumbersome accessory, but nothing can replace one when it comes down to making your camera completely still. Besides, if you shoot video once in a while, it becomes even more important.
Tripods vary in weight and quality according to their functions. If you are more of a studio photographer, you will choose a tripod especially for stability regardless of its weight. However, if you shoot outside, it would be worth considering carbon fiber tripods or other more expensive but much lighter materials. If you carry your equipment around, your back and shoulders will benefit from the investment!
While travelling, you should always have a mini-tripod somewhere in your gadget bag. If you don’t, you can always place the camera on a stable surface, but this may require you to choose a camera position that is not quite the one you want. There are also mini-tripods with articulated limbs or monopods that can be useful under certain conditions.
Most tripods have some form of quick release system that will save you from unscrewing your camera every time. Finally, in higher end equipment, there are tripods with interchangeable heads that exactly fit the type of photography you practice, or your personal preferences.
Obviously, there are circumstances where handheld photos will be great but when you are looking for that little something special, a photo taken on a tripod will always top a photo taken by hand, even if it sometimes takes a magnifying glass to see the difference!
There are a lot of good products out there and you’ll probably want to find a good compromise between stability and portability. Your experience, plus advice from your Zone Image merchant will help you make an informed choice.