Tripods – What you need to know.

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Following a workshop I recently held, I noticed that there are still many photographers who, despite using tripods, still do not know the full potential of these equipment for the act of shooting.

Let’s explore this theme a little to help those who think about acquiring a tripod, or help to better use those who already have.

As its name says, the tripod consists of 3 feet which are the bulkiest elements of the equipment.

The choice of tripod should take into account 3 main aspects: Weight, robustness, and price. And all these elements are directly influenced by the type of material on which the tripod is built.



The tripods built in steel are usually the most robust but are by far the heaviest. For this reason, steel tripods are used only in the studio, or outdoors in situations that have an essentially static use. For outdoor use where the photographer moves regularly, it is out of the question.


In reality there are plastic tripods but they are usually small and are used for bloggers to support smaller machines. There are also adjustable plastic tripods, for example the Gorilla brand, which lend themselves to ‘curl’ in a support point for less orthodox fixation.

Long tripods with plastic legs, although they can be cheap, are definitely not recommended because they end up being very unstable and fragile.


 In the world of tripods, aluminum is the ultimate battlehorse. It has an excellent resistance/weight ratio, and many options are found in terms of choices and prices.

It is clearly the one that presents the best relationship between stiffness, weight and price.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is a lightweight, strong and extremely corrosion resistant material, making it perfect for tripod legs.

However, being strong in intrinsic terms, its lightness can be a handicap in outdoor situations with a lot of wind, sometimes forcing to hang something heavy on the tripod to gain stability.

 Returning to our three main aspects for tripods, while the carbon fiber tripods are strong and lightweight, they are usually not cheap.

In summary, it is up to each photographer, through the use that will mostly make the tripod, choose the best option of construction material.  

Locking mechanisms

To provide portability, tripod legs usually have folding or telescopic sections, the vast majority of which are of the latter variety. This means that these sections of the legs have some kind of locking mechanism. In general, there are two main types of blocking.

Lever lock

This type of lock is a locking mechanism that opens to release the leg section of the tripod and moves down to hold it in place.

These locks allow the tripod to be mounted quickly and easily, and when they start to gain slack, they have tightening screws that allow you to fine-tune the force of the lock

Twist lock

Twist locks act as threads that tighten the tripod legs. They rotate in one direction to unlock, and in the opposite direction to secure.

Toration locks are generally less likely to fail due to impurities and sand on the lever locks. However, when they start to gain slack, they are more difficult to fine-tune, forcing us to make more force to lock the legs.

Center column

A center column allows the photographer to increase the height of the tripod after positioning the legs to their maximum extent.

The center columns also add versatility to the tripod features, because many of them allow to be placed horizontally, or even placed upside down, i.e. allowing you to shoot with the machine practically near the ground.


Tripod Heads

Finally we approach one of the most important elements of a tripod, although it is not an integral part of it, the tripod head.

And we say that it is not an integral part because, on a good tripod, we must have the freedom of choice of the feet (the tripod itself) and the tripod head.

In terms of tripod head, there are several options, however the most usual are:

Ball Head

This type of heads is formed by a ball that rotates freely inside a fitting. This mechanisms allow a lot of flexibility in the positioning of the machine, however it forces us to take extra care to confirm that the machine is aligned (horizontally or vertically).

Another aspect that we should pay attention to in this type of heads is the rigidity of the ball lock since, especially with heavy machines and heads of lower quality, with time the lock tends to gain slack and we can not hold the machine in the position we want.

3-axis head.

These heads, as their name implies, have the machine holder supported on a base that can rotate on 3 independent axes, each regulated by an independent clamping knob.

It can be a head in which the positioning of the machine requires more handling than in a ball head, however it has the advantage that, in terms of alignment is easier to achieve, because most of them have a level bubble at its base.

Also when you have 3 independent clamping knobs, it is easier to lock the machine in the desired position.

Once again the choice of the head has to do with the taste of the photographer, and the recommendation is to choose a head that ensures that supports the weight of our equipment, including telezoom lenses, which are always heavier.

And that’s it, I hope these explanations will allow you to choose the tripod that responds to your needs.

Any questions you just have to say, and we’re here to help.

Kisses and hugs.

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