Tripod and ballhead ergonomics

Started Jan 24, 2014 | Discussions thread
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teddoman Senior Member • Posts: 2,295
Tripod and ballhead ergonomics

Was wondering if folks could weigh in on how the unique ways their tripods and ballheads are constructed make them more inclined to use a tripod and to get more and better shots. In my limited experience using a tripod, I've realized that I don't really know HOW to use a tripod and ballhead. So I just wanted to see how others have figured out how to use theirs.

My focus here is just all around photography tripods (walk around, hiking, travel, studio, portrait, etc). Tripods for wildlife photography with huge telephoto lenses are a separate beast (heavier, balanced gimbal heads, etc).

Here are some ergonomic features of tripods that can make it stand out from other tripods. Would be great if others could add more ergonomic features to this list or weigh in with opinions.

Tripod legs

1. Really low shots

Center columns that flip from vertical to horizontal, like Manfrotto 190XPROB. With the legs spread wide, I can see how this might be useful for getting really low shots. By using a ballhead at 90 degrees, your camera would actually be properly horizontal for really low shots. Or you can tilt the camera down if you need to be really close for some reason (like a macro shot).

2. Flip locks vs twist legs

This is personal preference, but flip locks are quicker for me to use. And I'm more likely to want to use a tripod if it feels quick and easy. Twist lock legs are fussier-- if you don't pay attention enough, you can sometimes forget to tighten it enough.


1. Aspherical ballheads

I read someone comment that aspherical ballheads they can hold more weight stably than round ones?

2. QR plate twist knobs

Depending on camera size compared to the QR plate, sometimes the twist knob is under the camera body and it's hard to twist the knob in that position.

A flip lock seems quicker and easier, but then your QR plate has to fit exactly. Apparently not all Arca Swiss QR plates are precisely the same size, and using a twist knob accomodates slight size differences.

Are there QR plates with longer knobs or something?

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