Video Tripod for Everyday Use
By Anne Ahira
Upon cursory examination, there are many products that seem simplistic while still costing a pretty penny.
In this article we are going to discuss the video tripod and why it is not quite as simple as it seems.
In fact, the video tripod is a long-term investment that requires a lot of research to get right.
What should you look for?
To begin with, it is essential that you locate a tripod that has a separate head and legs.
Let us take a moment to explain exactly what these anatomically influenced parts actually are. The legs, obviously, are what give the tripod its name. There are three of them and they can be adjusted for nearly any shot. The head is a bit more versatile as it sits atop the legs and is available in a few different styles.
But more important than the style of the head is the fact that it is detachable. Since most photographers, whether they be amateurs or professional, need to transport their video tripod regularly, it is essential that the head be detachable and that it can be packed up separately.
While it is true that most tripods come as a complete unit that includes the legs and the head, there are professional tripods that offer these parts separately. Deciding on a model really does depend upon your relative level of experience.
There really are no accurate numbers to help us get to the bottom of this debate, but what we do know is that most beginners are satisfied with a single unit, while most professionals like to mix and match their parts.
The most common heads are called fluid heads and they actually contain an internal fluid that creates drag, which results in smoother and more consistent movement. A cheap head, on the other hand, will offer only limited control over drag and will most likely affect the quality of your camera work.
How do you check for drag? The best thing to do is to simply play around with the head and move it slowly, then quickly from side to side. If there is any jerkiness, it probably means that the camera does not have the appropriate amount of drag. The movement of the device should be smooth at all times.
High quality video tripods will also have counter balance systems that keep the camera perfectly balanced. This feature is important due to the fact that even expensive, quality cameras can be quite heavy or unbalanced, and a counterbalance will correct this problem.
Lastly, it is a good idea to find a camera with a quick-release button or mechanism that will allow you to remove the camera for quick and easy storage and transportation. This is essential if you do not have a permanent installation, i.e., the camera is not screwed to the tripod.
As you might expect, the legs are not quite as complicated as the head. Their main function of course is to support the weight of the camera. Beyond that, it is important to make certain that they are the right height and that they fold up for easy storage.