When do use tripods?

Started 5 months ago | Discussions
Nabilon Forum Member • Posts: 51
When do use tripods?

Hi,

With the recent posts and tests of tripods by dpreview, I noticed that many landscape photographers seem to always use tripods. I do not have much experience with landscape photography, so I was wondering, are there any advantages for the image quality, even if I use relatively short shutter times? Or is it really just that landscape photographers use long exposures that often, that they always carry a tripod?

Graham Meale
Graham Meale Veteran Member • Posts: 3,576
Re: When do you use tripods?
4

I virtually never use mine. Most of my photography is travel, and I only ever take a tripod when I'm likely to come across auroras. I'm not interested in star trails or silky water, and modern cameras will be fine handheld in very dark places. If ever I get Parkinson's I might use a tripod more.

-- hide signature --
 Graham Meale's gear list:Graham Meale's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II +7 more
hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 21,044
Re: When do use tripods?

I used to haul a tripod around, but for daylight photography it is rarely needed unless you are using deep ND filters. These days I almost always handhold my camera, or brace it against a handy tree or rock.

For long telephotos for wildlife, I much prefer using a monopod.

-- hide signature --
 hotdog321's gear list:hotdog321's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EF 16-35mm F4L IS USM Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM Canon EF 11-24mm F4L +3 more
Reggie Stration
Reggie Stration Contributing Member • Posts: 702
Re: When do use tripods?
14

Nabilon wrote:

Hi,

With the recent posts and tests of tripods by dpreview, I noticed that many landscape photographers seem to always use tripods. I do not have much experience with landscape photography, so I was wondering, are there any advantages for the image quality, even if I use relatively short shutter times? Or is it really just that landscape photographers use long exposures that often, that they always carry a tripod?

Using a tripod frees you from having to compromise on the shutter speed or ISO in order to achieve the exposure you want at the aperture you want. You can shoot at base ISO for optimum image quality while using an aperture that gives you the optimum depth of field or for optimum performance of a given lens no matter what the light levels are.

Without a tripod, in lower light levels, you usually have to compromise either ISO or aperture in order to obtain a fast enough shutter speed for hand held sharpness.

Also, tripod use lets you be more precise in framing your subject and to maintain that exact framing across multiple frames.

In pursuit of ultimate image quality it also lets you minimize vibration by using remote or delayed shutter release, mirror lock up and electronic first curtain shutter.

Bottom line is that using a tripod eliminates the need to compromise other factors in order to achieve an adequate shutter speed for hand held shooting.

https://www.msphoto.ca/index.htm

BBbuilder467 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,728
Re: When do use tripods?
3

Nabilon wrote:

Hi,

With the recent posts and tests of tripods by dpreview, I noticed that many landscape photographers seem to always use tripods. I do not have much experience with landscape photography, so I was wondering, are there any advantages for the image quality, even if I use relatively short shutter times? Or is it really just that landscape photographers use long exposures that often, that they always carry a tripod?

I use a tripod more for precision than anything else. It's when I need to concentrate on very precise framing, focus, metering, etc. There is a good chance, it will be 100% manual with minor tweaks from shot to shot. I don't want anything to change in framing while waiting for a cloud to drift into position or the light to change. You can frame at heights you wouldn't normally do hand-held and keep the camera level in every axis.

With a tripod, you can't make excuses for the gear. Any mistakes are you.

With nature landscapes, you'll probably be more selective with the scenes, and the tripod will force you to slow down and take your time. Even using a monopod, I get the sense I could do better with a tripod. It has little to do with shutter speed. It has more to do with precision.

WarrenPeas
WarrenPeas Contributing Member • Posts: 949
Re: When do use tripods?
3

Nightscapes and long exposures, a tripod is a must.

-- hide signature --

IG: @DooDooYellow

 WarrenPeas's gear list:WarrenPeas's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony a7C Sony FE 50mm F1.4 ZA Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN +4 more
Gary from Seattle Veteran Member • Posts: 6,007
Re: When do use tripods?
3

I think there is a difference between trips close to the car and when walking/traveling.

Since most of my photography is on hikes, I get further and further away from thinking I need a tripod. On backpacks that would be astro/landscape; but it is harder and harder to rationalize carrying a tripod - they are the single heaviest piece of equipment. Besides m4/3 IBIS is at the top of the heap and I can handhold quite slow SS's.

I don't have a problem carrying a tripod for short hikes and walks. Tripods make it far easier to capture focus bracketed shots. In winter I will do walks of 3-7 miles fairly often and bring a tripod exclusively to be able to focus stack. Spring and summer flower macros are not as difficult as most are in good light, and besides, many good flower images are more of an artistic nature with a medium to even wide aperture, and consequently, an intended shallow DOF.

I don't think "precision" in composition is a valid argument for a tripod for me. I am very adept at utilizing the EVF for best composition and exposure. Besides, I will more than likely shoot several images handheld of better than average scenes. It is very likely that "precision" will come from one of these several images.

 Gary from Seattle's gear list:Gary from Seattle's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Olympus E-M1 II Olympus OM-D E-M1X Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 OIS +5 more
Gloomy1 Contributing Member • Posts: 578
Re: When do use tripods?
2

I use a tripod 99% of the time. For me it is quality both in terms of image quality and better compositions. Ken

 Gloomy1's gear list:Gloomy1's gear list
Sony a7R IV Sony FE 24-105mm F4 +1 more
Bobthearch
Bobthearch Forum Pro • Posts: 10,362
Re: When do use tripods?

If I'm really losing the light and can't keep the shutter speed high enough for handheld, below 1/60th with the kit lens or wide angle.

HDR bracketing.

Using a lightning trigger or intervelometer.

-- hide signature --

Personal non-commercial websites with no ads or tracking:
Local photography: http://ratonphotos.com/
Travel and photography: http://placesandpics.com/
Special-interest photos: http://ghosttowns.placesandpics.com/

 Bobthearch's gear list:Bobthearch's gear list
Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II Nikon AF-P 70-300mm F4.5-6.3G VR +2 more
Lan Veteran Member • Posts: 3,214
Re: When do use tripods?
1

On a sunny day, I shoot handheld unless I'm using a strong ND filter.

If the light is poor, I'll break out the tripod.

inohio New Member • Posts: 4
Re: When do use tripods?

This is a good point. If you know you are getting a good shot, a tripod can make a better photo. But it will reduce the number of shots you get overall.

Reggie Stration
Reggie Stration Contributing Member • Posts: 702
Re: When do use tripods?
1

inohio wrote:

This is a good point. If you know you are getting a good shot, a tripod can make a better photo. But it will reduce the number of shots you get overall.

Not sure which good point you were referring to but yes I would agree with the premise of quality over quantity. 😊

Platographer Contributing Member • Posts: 757
Re: When do use tripods?
7

I almost always use a tripod even when not doing long exposures because my goal is to achieve the best possible image quality. A tripod with remote shutter eliminates the chance of camera movement blur (as long as it is not too windy out) and allows more thoughtful framing of the shot. A tripod also makes it easier to exposure and focus bracket shots without having to crop a lot out when aligning in post. I focus and exposure bracket most of my shots (by focus bracket, I mean take exposure bracketed shots at several different focus points since the Sony A7Riv does not have a focus bracketing function). To me, technical excellence is as important as composition because I have aspirations to make big Peter Lik-style prints. But that's not what is important to everyone and that is fine.

When I was in Lake Tahoe, I paid a photographer to guide/instruct me. I like her work, but her photography philosophy was completely different than mine. She hardly ever brackets and shoots mostly handheld at small apertures like f/14 or f/16 to get good DOF (which obviously introduces significant diffraction softening compared to focus stacking f/8 images). She has little concern for the technical side, but makes beautiful images nonetheless. She didn't even know what the circle of confusion is, but she manages to be a good photographer. Her style is not wrong, just different. For her, spending a lot of time and effort to get that extra, say, 20% or so of quality is not worth it. I feel differently. There's no right or wrong answer, just the individual photographer's prerogatives and decisions about how our very limited time on this beautiful blue marble is spent.

TheMerchantofVenice Regular Member • Posts: 305
Every time you can :)

I suspect you will find that large numbers of people you talk to will sing the praises of tripods for increasing camera steadiness and permitting more flexibility in shutter speed selection.

Fast shutter speeds can certainly help,  but what if you don't want a fast shutter speed?

What if you wish to frame up the camera and wait for the proper moment?

KENTGA Veteran Member • Posts: 7,496
Re: Every time you can :)
2

I don't use a tripod unless I use a slow shutter speed. As mentioned by another poster I used to lug one around but I don't find it necessary these days.

Kent

 KENTGA's gear list:KENTGA's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 6D Canon EOS 80D Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Canon EOS 5D Mark IV +15 more
kodakrome
kodakrome Contributing Member • Posts: 946
Twice a year
2

I use a tripod a couple of times a year.

When I use it, I call myself a "landscape shooter".

When I don't use it, I call myself a "scenery shooter".

CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 7,930
Re: When do use tripods?
5

There have been many good posts here, and I can't disagree with any of them. Here are my two cents worth.  Most of my serious landscape photos involve tripods and polarizing filters. I find that if I use a polarizing filter and want good depth of field and the lowest ISOs, my shutter speed is low enough that I don't want to hand hold. I also find that using a tripod slows me down, forcing me to compose more carefully. Maybe it is just me, but I find that when I am handholding landscape photos I often get home and, when reviewing my photos, wish I had changed the composition slightly or moved my camera just a bit. For some reason, most of my tripod made photos don't leave me wishing I'd worked a bit slower or made different decisions.

Bing Chow Senior Member • Posts: 2,524
Re: When do use tripods?
2

The responses are as varied as personalities, and that is expected.

Fotoni Senior Member • Posts: 1,067
Pixel shift and low light

Pixel shift needs 100% support and only a tripod can do that. Low light often means that you need to use softer apertures to get more saturated exposure and increase ISO to "fill" the rest because even IBIS cannot offer enough support in many cases. Using a tripod allows you to use the sharpest aperture and base ISO for best image quality. Of course, if there is too much motion, a tripod does nothing. Some also might use long exposures in daylight with a ND filter to blur water.

 Fotoni's gear list:Fotoni's gear list
Pentax K-1 Pentax FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS
noisebeam Senior Member • Posts: 2,938
Re: When do use tripods?
1

Bing Chow wrote:

The responses are as varied as personalities, and that is expected.

Responses indicate three reasons:

1. Longer shutter speeds (small aperture, low light, ND, polarizers) that will or could have IQ impact if hand held.

2. Multiple captures requiring matched framing.

3. Composition mindfulness and/or precision.

With #3 more of a personal consideration.

 noisebeam's gear list:noisebeam's gear list
Sony RX100 II Canon EOS 30D Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM +8 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads