Do You Really Need a Tripod?

Twenty years ago, tripods were necessary for any sort of long exposure. Today, though, lenses and cameras can offer insane levels of stabilization of sometimes up to eight stops. With those capabilities, do you even need a tripod anymore? This interesting video poses that question and covers the times where you may or may not need one. 

Coming to you from James Popsys, this excellent video discusses whether you actually need a tripod nowadays. No doubt, beyond a certain shutter speed or for certain applications, you definitely need a tripod, but there is a much bigger gray area than there might have been a decade ago, thanks to highly advanced stabilization systems in both camera bodies and lenses. And while you might say that a tripod is always a better option simply because it ensures the best possible image quality, there is another side to consider: a tripod can be cumbersome to work with and can slow you down, reducing the number of possible shots you will be able to find. Furthermore, they lock you into a certain perspective. If you do not absolutely need one, you might actually be better off working without one. Check out the video above for Popsys' full thoughts. 

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8 Comments

Eric Robinson's picture

Using a tripod in my opinion is not about avoiding camera shake. For serious landscape photography it’s essential and it’s not just about its use slowing you down, it’s more about allowing you the freedom to look compose and recompose and forget about the camera and focus on the subject. It also allows for creating long exposure, panoramic, bracketed and focus stacked shots. Not using a tripod severely limits your options. Ok who likes to carry one, not me, but how often have you been at a location and cursed yourself for not bringing it along? A camera on its own is fine for snaps but if you want to take photographs use a tripod.

Ken Flanagan's picture

Yes, yes you do.

Lee Huberts's picture

Yes.

bbetc's picture

If I'm doing a lot of trekking around with a long lens, chasing birds, butterflies, dragonflies, I normally use a monopod.

Richard Kralicek's picture

Well, it depends, even for amateurs like me. For long exposures, for critical exposures in darker conditions, for night photography a.s.o. ... yes. For a family hike with a long exposure of family or water dynamics you just need a stabilised lens or body. In case you want to smooth out motion perfectly there's no way doing it without a tripod, image stacking doesn't help that much imho.

David Illig's picture

Wow! Finally a question to which I know the answer! YES, I need to use a tripod whenever I can. Nature photography, lots of macrophotography, and occasional cinematography. I need for my photos to be well composed and blur-free. Aluminum (three), carbon fiber (four). Ball-head, geared, gimbal, old-fashioned handle (Slik 1973), fluid video. Lenses up to 800mm (Canon).

Please note that I did not say that YOU need a tripod.

Rick Pappas's picture

The older I get, the more I appreciate camera support. I use monopods and tripods as routine.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

So the video is from a user who "hates" tripods and just bought a new overhyped PD tripod which was marketed to hold large format cameras with ease... sorry no credibility or experience.

No one denies that IBS is nice to have, or that you can get away with slower shutter speeds at times. But for landscape photography as with many other genre´s consistency and timing is everything. So missing a shot just because you inhaled wrong isn't a viable option. Also for any type of scape photography, be it multi-exposure, panorama or long exposure IBS won't help at all.