When I use a Tripod
When I am shooting 35mm I don’t normally use a tripod unless I’m using a real slow shutter speed. I say normally because sometimes I do use one.
But why don’t I normally shoot with one?
1. Because I like to move around when I shoot. I’m all over the place when I shoot. I look for the shot while I’m shooting. And a tripod clips my wings, so to speak.
2. I’m on the ground, up on a ladder, down on one knee and then up again.
3. In my opinion, fashion is free flowing and needs to have movement and spirit. A tripod feels like it forces the shot to stay static and I start to feel “stuck” when I’m using one.
4. When are the instances that I’ll pull one out and use one?
5. For one, when I’m shooting at a slow shutter speed in order to “drag” ambient light into the frame, I might use a tripod to absolutely insure total sharpness on the model.
6. Or when I’m shooting beauty and the need to move around isn’t that important, but sharp eyelashes are!
7. If I have the need to work with straight lines, as in shooting in a building and or a floor plan that the model has to be in the same spot every time because of type issues, I crank out the tripod and put my camera on it.
8. I also will use one when I’m shooting a line sheet, or catalogue, where the model stands in the same spot on every shot, but there are over 40 changes.
But when or if those issues aren’t present or necessary, I like to work without one. I think you can tell by watching the two videos I’ve done so far, I’m all over the place when I shoot. But remember in the last Genlux Video, where the model was standing in the doorway, I used a tripod because I wanted the doors to be shot straight. Does that make sense?
Then again, if I am shooting with medium format cameras, I have to pretty much use a tripod. And that’s mainly because they’re so heavy, I can’t hold them steady for too long. And unless I’m going for a blurred or soft effect, I want sharp images! Nothing ruins a shot for me like an uncontrolled out of focused image. But Mamiya’s and Pentax’s get heavy shooting with them after awhile. I must admit, though, that one of my favorite all time cameras has been the Pentax 6 x 7 because of that juicy huge image size but the camera is like a big 35mm camera so I can hold it up to my eye. I love that about it. Have to admit, though, even the Pentax gets heavy after an hour or so of shooting. So sometimes I would throw even the Pentx on that tripod! And that’s simply just to save my arms and shoulders!
What are some good brands of Tripods?
Gitzo GT-1541T A REALLY good tripod. I’ve used Gitzo for years. The carbon fiber material they use for the legs make this a strong, reliable tripod but it’s still pretty lightweight. And even though this is the priciest one I am recommending here, once you buy this tripod, you’ll never need to buy another one. Remember too, you need to get a tripod with a ballhead. It comes with a quick release making it easy to attach your camera to the tripod or take it off quickly so you can grab a shot off the tripod. This tripod runs just under $750.00USD. If that’s a bit out of your budget, here’s another great tripod:
Slik Professional 4 Another really good tripod and a few dollars less. This tripod has a ballhead that has tilt/pan cabalities and it holds up to 22 lbs, giving it a bit more flexibility than the Gitzo. The Gitzo is just a tad better quality, but you can’t lose with this one either. For reliability and strength, both are at the top of the list. Put it this way, you won’t ever replace these tripods unless they’re lost or stolen!
My advice is to go with the better brands. In most cases, I advise that. There are some instances where you don’t have to shell out the extra dough on a product and can save by getting the less expensive brand. But when it comes to gear like cameras, lenses, tripods, you know, the equipment that makes your images, I find it’s best to go with the reliable, time tested brands. And they tend to run higher in price. With a tripod, one thing to remember is try to go with carbon fiber legs as oppose to aluminum. Aluminum can bend easier and they’re just not as long lasting as carbon fiber. A good tripod will last you a lifetime. Seriously, the good ones hardly ever break unless you’re particularly cruel to your equipment and throw them around. (I wouldn’t advise that, but sometimes it’s better to throw a tripod than an assistant, and yes, I’ve done it, and my Gitzo did not break!) But again, I don’t advocate throwing anything photographic. Even a C-stand. (although I’ve thrown those as well….haha…..I’ve been shooting a long time, remember. I wasn’t so patient when I was young!)
Do you guys have any other suggestions for my readers (other than not throwing your equipment!)? I’d love your input here. Thanks!