One thing's for sure about tripods: you never know how much you really need one until you're caught without it and miss amazing photo opportunities. Aside from long exposures, shoooting with a tripod gives you several other advantages. It will allow you to shoot with heavier gear for longer periods of time. You can keep your ISO at a minimum value and framing can take a little longer, which means you'll be doing it better. Let's not forget about shooting video, something that's really hard to do without proper stabilization. So, overall, you get a lot from a single purchase.
For many beginners, buying a tripod can be tricky, especially if they don't know what to look for. Here are 5 common mistakes you need to avoid when buying a tripod.
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1. Ignoring the load capacity
One of the most important things you need to look for is how much weight a tripod can hold. Make sure you check every model you're interested in for specs or ask the seller for the figures. Obviously, you need to know how much your gear weighs. Do you have a mid-sized DSLR or a pro full-frame body and a lot of lenses? You're going to need something capable of handling heavy weights without inducing any camera shake. Tripods like the Sirui N-2204X are well suited for heavy cameras and lenses. Maybe you shoot with a mirrorless camera. You're obviously not going to need a heavy tripod for that. Also, before investing in a tripod, ask yourself if you're going to make any other gear purchases in the near future. Things like battery grips and heavier lenses will also influence the overall weight of the combo.
2. Ignoring height
The height of a tripod is just as important as its weight and load capacity. Before buying it, you need to know how tall you need it to be. That's related to your photographic needs and how tall you are. You're also going to want to know how long the tripod is at minimum size. If you're a studio photographer, a longer minimum size might not bother you very much, but if you travel a lot, you're going to want something compact like the Sirui S2205n .
3. Going for the wrong tripod head
A tripod is made of legs and a head and you have to pay careful attention to both. There are several types of tripod heads, including ball heads, pan and tilt heads, and fluid heads for video. Again, it's a question of figuring out your real needs. Some heads are more flexible and easier to use than others, but we recommend testing several models before making a decision.
4. Not knowing your materials
Tripods are made of various materials, the most popular being carbon fiber and aluminum. Each has its own characteristics. Carbon fiber is the strongest and lightest of the two materials and it will cost a little more than aluminum. Aluminum is a metal, unlike carbon fiber which is a composite material, and that means it can bend. While it is still a strong material, it is heavier thus making it a little harder to carry.
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5. Keeping it cheap
One of the biggest mistakes photographers make when buying a tripod is going for something cheap, often made of plastic. This is usually the result of thinking that you're not going to need a tripod that often and something of lesser quality will do. We're not saying you should spend a fortune on a tripod; just don't get something that's next to useless for stabilizing your camera. Our recommended brand is Sirui because of the quality of both design and materials and the fair prices.