Photo tripods are essential tools for serious photography and video work by amateur and professional photographers. There are many types of tripods, ranging from heavy-duty models intended for professional videography, to smaller units for DSLRs, down to lightweight devices for smartphones.
A tripod is a three-legged device fitted with an adjustable head for supporting a camera. It provides a stable platform for filming and photography, avoiding camera shake that spoils photographs or unwanted movement that ruins video shots. Although most have rigid extendable legs, some have multi-jointed legs that can wrap around a convenient rail or branch.
Tripods are handy for taking photos in poor light, such as at dawn or at night, when using slow shutter speeds, or for time-lapse photography. They're also suitable for HDR photography, macro photography, photo stacking, and when using telephoto lenses.
To keep cameras stable, professional video tripods and monopods must be strong enough to support the weight of the camera and lens.
There's commonality between video-making and still photography in that the camera needs to be steady for static shots. However, videographers also need to pan and tilt their cameras smoothly, and often use video tripods with fluid heads for smooth operation.
On the other hand, the primary requirement for still photography is the ability to adjust your camera for the best composition, and to hold your camera securely without unwanted movement. This is particularly important with telephoto and macro photography. Photographers use ball or geared heads that fasten securely in any position.
While a lightweight tripod normally comes fitted with a ball head, photographers can also purchase tripod legs and heads separately. This allows you to choose an ideal combination for your photography. Additionally, numerous accessories for tripod heads facilitate special requirements such as right-angle brackets for mounting cameras vertically and leveling heads for panning and taking panoramic photos. Other alternatives include pipe clamps for mounting lights and flash units on the same tripod or separately. Another solution is using various clamps and clips to mount your lights and other equipment on pipes, bars, and rails.
Because it's difficult to follow fast-moving action with a tripod, sports photographers often use a monopod. This has a single adjustable leg, and the camera is rigidly attached to the top. While using a monopod takes some practice, it's a good method for keeping a heavy telephoto lens stable and steady at sports events, and for wildlife photography. Numerous tripod leg accessories extend their capabilities, while some use a small three-legged base for greater stability.