photo by Media Trading Ltd via iStock
As a videographer, or a still photographer getting into the fantastic video capabilities of your digital camera, you may be wondering what is the difference between a video tripod vs photo tripods.
As a quick tripod buyer’s guide for videographers, we’ll talk about the differences and similarities between video and photo tripods so you can make the right choice.
Similarities Between Video and Photo Tripods
photo by ablokhin via iStock
Tripods have legs and a head. The types of heads and types of legs of a video tripod vs photo tripod might look very much the same at first glance.
The primary purpose of a photo tripod is to provide a stable platform and keep things still. A video tripod also provides a stable platform but with a significant difference.
Differences Between Video and Photo Tripods
When looking at video tripod features compared to photo tripod features, the things that stand out are the design of the tripod heads and that a video tripod doesn’t have a center column.
These two video tripod features provide the videographer with a stable platform and the ability to move smoothly. And that’s the biggest difference of a video tripod vs photo tripod, videography adds motion and a tripod for video cameras needs to allow controlled motion.
Video Needs Motion
Since a video is basically the same as a motion picture or cinematography, motion is at the heart of this artform. And that’s the main reason why we choose a video tripod when shooting video, even if we already have a great photo tripod.
The center column is replaced by a bowl and the head is designed for smooth, controlled movement. Let’s examine a typical high quality video tripod from a video accessories company and learn about these important video tripod features.
Ikan EK650 Video Tripod with Fluid Head
The legs are going to provide stability and the fluid head will give you smoothly controlled motion. So let’s look at the legs. The Ikan EK650 Video Tripod has twin tube legs and an adjustable mid-level spreader for a superb level of stability.
It has a 75mm bowl for mounting the fluid head. Video tripods don’t have a center column like photo tripods do. All height adjustment is made by the legs. The bowl lets you level out the camera after you get it as close to level as possible with leg adjustment.
Not having a center column is actually a plus for videography and not the limitation our still photography oriented mind might think it is. A center column adds a possible cause of unwanted movement when making use of the larger fluid head or possibly a slider with fluid head. The twin tube tripod legs prevent flexing while panning or tilting while filming.
A fluid head uses a dampening fluid to smooth out motion of tilting or panning during shooting. The fluid heads generally don’t have a provision for flipping the camera into portrait orientation since that would weaken stabilization and you won't film video in portrait orientation anyways.
Fluid heads tend to have a long handle for moving the rig in a panning or tilting motion. The Ikan EK650 has adjustable levels of drag for how much dampening is in use and a large quick release plate for a very secure attachment.
Video Tripod vs Photo Tripod
photo by Jae Young Ju via iStock
Our photo tripod is a great tool for all sorts of still photography but for the best videography results, we should use a video tripod. Adding a fluid head to a photo tripod will work but the added stability of twin tube legs and a bowl replacing the center column dramatically increase the stability of our videography rig while filming with panning or tilting motion.
Check out all of the video tripods available from Ikan, from very budget friendly models to high end professional models. Ikan designs and makes the videography and cinematography accessories they sell so they can offer extremely high quality and fully capable gear at lower prices than other brands. It’s one of my favorite stores for professional video accessories.
Use this video tripod buyer’s guide to help you narrow down what type of tripod to get for your own videos. When considering a video tripod vs photo tripod, it is a good idea to have a different tripod for each use since the features or each type are important for their intended use.