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Photography Tips - Tripods

A sturdy tripod is essential for long exposure and nightscape photography. Since the shutter will be open for seconds instead of fractions of seconds it's important that the camera doesn't move.

If you don't already have one and you are just starting out my best advise is to buy what you can afford. Tripods are available at BestBuy, Walmart and Target, just about anywhere you can get electronics. However, a good sturdy tripod and ballhead will typically start at a couple of hundred dollars and come from a photography equipment retailer.

To begin with you will need to decide, carbon fiber or aluminum. Carbon is lightweight but costs about twice as much as aluminum. Personally, the extra weight of the aluminum helps to keep my camera steady on windy beaches. Next you need to choose a type of leg connector, twist lock or flip lock. For me the advantage of twist locks is the ability to quickly and easily tear them down and clean them when they get sandy.

Ball head or pan-tilt head are your two basic choices to connect your camera to the tripod. Most nightscapers use ball heads, it allows you to have precise control of the angle and position of the camera. Pan-heads can be more difficult to use in the dark and harder to get just the right angle with.

Take if from someone who has been through several inexpensive setups, the more money you put into your tripod the more you will enjoy your time out there shooting. I am currently using a Benro Mach 3 Extra Tall 3 section aluminum tripod with a Benro IB1 Ball Head. It's about 10 times the cost of my first tripod but well worth every penny

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