- How to Create an Amazing Landscape Photo
- How to Choose the Right Camera Bag for Landscape Photography
If you're just starting out in photography, it might seem as though the tripod you use doesn't matter all that much.
But nothing could be further from the truth...
Just like there are good and bad cameras and good and bad lenses, there are good and bad tripods as well.
Some tripods are perfectly suited for portraits, others for travel, and still others for landscapes.
The key is learning what to look for in a landscape tripod so that you have the tools you need to take awesome shots.
Editor's Note: For illustrative purposes, I use Vanguard tripods as examples throughout this article. Vanguard has a reputation for making innovative, feature-packed tripods that make the task of landscape photography much easier.
Why You Need a Tripod for Landscapes
Though it might be tempting to go without a tripod for landscape photography simply to cut down on the weight you have to carry around, it's a mistake to do so.
First of all, many tripods these days are built specifically with weight in mind.
The Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AT tripod shown above weighs just 3.9 pounds thanks to its all-aluminum construction. That means that you don't have to carry a huge load yet you still get all the benefits of having a full-sized, fully-functioning tripod.
Secondly, without a tripod, you run the risk of having blurry photos.
Granted, if you're always using a fast shutter speed, camera shake isn't as big of a problem.
But sometimes a long exposure is warranted, and those types of photos are impossible if you're holding your camera in your hand.
Additionally, sometimes the wind kicks up and you need the extra stability a tripod provides, even if you're using a fast shutter speed.
Tripods like the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AT I mentioned above can help you overcome windy conditions thanks to handy features like canopy suspension loops for adding counterbalance weight and large, angled rubber feet to get a tight grip on the ground, no matter the surface.
In other words, you need a tripod for landscape photography to help you maximize the quality of your photos, plain and simple.
What to Look for in a Landscape Photography Tripod
There are a number of crucial factors to consider when looking for landscape photography gear like a tripod.
Think about weight in two different terms...
First, how much does the tripod weigh? Don't just go for the lightest tripod you can find, though, as you still want something that's robust and durable.
Second, how much weight can the tripod hold?
Naturally, if your camera, lens, filters, and other accessories weigh ten pounds, you can't use a tripod with a maximum carrying capacity of 8 pounds.
On the flip side, you don't need to go overboard, either, and buy a tripod that can handle 20 pounds. Tailor your tripod to what you need!
Aluminum tripods weigh more than carbon fiber tripods, but are typically less expensive than carbon fiber as well.
In addition to the weight of a tripod, you also need to consider its height.
Ideally, the tripod should allow you to put your camera at your eye level when taking a shot, that way you can see the viewfinder without having to hunch over.
However, this isn't always possible when buying a tripod for landscape photography as the taller they are, the more difficult they are to fit into a backpack, so if you do a lot of hiking, getting a shorter tripod might be the way to go.
Additionally, think about how short the tripod can become as well.
This is an important factor because there will be situations in which you want to get an ultra-low perspective to highlight foreground interest in a landscape.
The Vanguard VEO 2 265CB shown above, for example, has multiple leg lock positions that allow you to adjust the height of the tripod in quick order.
Not only that, but you can position the tripod in a way that puts your camera mere inches from the ground while having the ability to raise it to a maximum height of 59 inches. Not bad, right?!
A landscape photography tripod needs to have the right kind of feet if you're going to get the stability you need for tack-sharp photos.
As mentioned earlier, some tripods, like the Vanguard Alta Pro 2 264AP shown above, have large, angled rubber feet that help it grab onto whatever the landscape surface might be to give you the stable base your photos require.
But in addition to rubber feet, look for a tripod that has metal spikes that can be added for even more traction.
This is particularly important on slippery surfaces, like those that are wet or covered with snow and ice. Metal spikes are also handy for steep inclines.
Integrated Bubble Level
One of the most common landscape photography mistakes is having a wonky horizon.
You can have everything else about the shot done perfectly, but if the horizon is off, the photo just won't look right.
While you can easily fix a crooked horizon in post-processing, why not nip the problem in the bud from the outset by having a tripod with an integrated bubble level?
The Vanguard Alta Pro 2 264AO shown above has multiple bubble levels to help you get your camera in the perfect position.
And with various leg lock positions, you can easily adapt the tripod to uneven terrain to ensure your shots are on point.
This is really a no-brainer...
When shopping for a tripod for landscape photography, you need to consider the quality of the tripod's construction.
Though it might be tempting to order the cheapest tripod you can find on Amazon, trust me when I say that this will not serve you or your photos well at all.
Instead, invest in a tripod that's rock-solid and that will last you for years and years to come.
I can tell you firsthand that Vanguard tripods fit the bill, with smartly designed tripods that can stand up to the rough-and-tumble nature of landscape photography.
It's better to get a high-quality tripod and use it for years and years than to buy numerous cheap ones along the way!
Wrapping It Up
There are tons of factors to consider when buying a landscape photography tripod.
As discussed above, how much it weighs, how much weight it can hold, its height, the type of feet, having a bubble level, and build quality are primary factors to consider.
Also be on the lookout for things like quick setup time, the type of leg lock mechanism the tripod has, whether there's solid grips on the tripod's legs, and whether it comes with a tripod head of some sort.
In the end, thinking about these features and finding a durable, well-built tripod will help you take the best possible landscape photos.