Sometimes I just don’t get it. I was reading a recent photo magazine article about tripods- what is new, what you should buy, what you can’t live without- the standard photomag hype. No one should be surprised about these types of articles, they are the standard of all photo magazines. the only thing you should be surprised about is that all the advice, all the product, in fact, everything about the article was bad. Here is the really news: the old advice about tripods is still the best advice- keep it simple.
What do I mean by simple? I will spell it out to you: no center columns, no leg braces, no gimmicks. I don’t think I made that quite clear enough. I will try it again. NEVER BUY A TRIPOD WITH LEG BRACES OR A CENTER COLUMN. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. Is that clear enough?
Here is why. A center column is a monumental inconvenience. A center column prevents a tripod from going lower than the length of the center column. Most center columns are between 12 and 24 inches long. This means that your camera will never get lower than that height. If you are photographing anything close to the ground- small mammals, birds, and especially wildflowers- you won’t be able to get close enough to them or you won’t be able to get the most compelling photographic prospective. Shooting down on an animal or even a wildflower is, how should I say this?, an abomination. It is the sign of either a lazy, clueless or equipment challenged photographer. Anybody who is reading this is none of these dreadful things.
Any salesperson will tell you that centerposts are essential. Every salesperson is not an outdoor photographer. So don’t listen to salespeople, don’t believe articles designed to sell advertiser’s products, don’t be stupid. Listen to a professional photographer who has been at it for 25 years. Get a tripod that comes to your eye level so you don’t have to stoop all day long, don’t get one with a center post and whatever you do don’t get one with leg braces that make tripods impossible to use outdoors. These are not options, these are hard rules. Trust me!!