When I started taking photos with DSLR, I wasn’t aware of the importance of choosing a right tripod, using and maintaining it right way. I’ve slowly learned the lessons by making ignorant mistakes like setting it up too tall in high winds and ending up with photos that are not sharp.
A tripod is really the single most important gear when it comes to shooting cityscapes at twilight and dusk (a.k.a. blue hour). Those photos require long exposure, sometimes going for minutes, and a sturdy tripod is absolutely essential to keep photos blur-free.
Get a Best Tripod Within Your Budget
Unlike camera body, tripod isn’t something you upgrade often. In fact, a good tripod could last a lifetime, so it’s advisable to get the best possible tripod within your budget. FYI, I own Manfrotto MT190CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod .
Tall Isn’t Always Cool
I see many people fully extending tripod legs even when not needed. This is not a good practice, as it leaves your tripod more prone to high winds, and undermines your chance of shooting sharp photos. The photo below (shot at The Peak in Hong Kong) is a good example. Instead of fully extending the tripod legs and center column to go taller than the fence, I put the lens through the bars and kept the tripod as low as needed to shoot sharp photos. Actually, I learned this from my mistake, as I shot at this exact spot the previous year, but screwed up the opportunity by setting the tripod too tall (over the fence) in high winds, and none of the photos came out sharp.
Also, extending all the tripod legs takes more space on the ground and has a risk of someone accidentally kicking it during long exposure if the place is crowded. This is photographers’ worst nightmare…
Rather than fully extending tripod legs and even center column to shoot from above the fence, I kept the tripod low and put the lens through the bars to shoot.
3 or 4 Section Legs Tripod
While a tripod with 3 section legs provides a more stable platform, a 4 section legs tripod has a shorter closed length, which comes in handy for travel photographers who want their tripods packed into a suitcase. If you ask me, I choose nothing but 3 section legs tripod as I won’t compromise stability for convenience. Having said that, my tripod still fits into my suitcase (after taking out the center column). Before purchasing, I made it sure by even bringing my suitcase to a camera store for testing.
As always, feel free to Contact Me if you have any questions. ;)