Historical Posting – Originally published in our In Focus Newsletter in 1998 – Since this is an archived story – products mentioned may not be available or even made any more – Let us know if you have any questions.
Sharper Pictures – Tripods
One of the least expensive and easiest ways to improve your image sharpness whether using digital, video or film is to purchase a tripod. A tripod becomes more important when you’re using a telephoto lens or shooting in low light conditions. A good rule of thumb when shooting film is that a tripod should be used when the shutter speed is less than 1 / [focal legnth of lens in mm]. With this rule in mind, shooting with a 300mm telephoto you would want to use a tripod when below 1/300th or 1/500th of a second. Even at higher shutter speeds a tripod will eliminate camera shake that comes from hand holding your camera and produce sharper images. If you’re planning on making big enlargements, using a tripod will help to ensure the sharpest possible image.
With video cameras, a special type of tripod head is used called a fluid head. The fluid head allows you to smoothly move the camera while following the action without bouncing up and down. In places where tripods are too bulky and cumbersome, many people opt for a single leg of a tripod or monopod. A monopod helps to steady the camera in place where a tripod would be too inconvenient to use. A monopod also doubles as a good walking stick.
Tripods come in all shapes, sizes and prices from tiny tabletop tripods to full size 6′ tall models that will support a professional video camera. Stop by Bergen County Camera and we’ll be glad to show you several models that can improve your photography.
Are you using a VR or image stabilizing lens?
Be sure to check your lenses owners manual to determine the correct setting. Many VR and image stabilized lenses need to be shut off when used on a tripod.