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Thread: Tripod use

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    Tripod use

    I am wanting to ask advice on when to use a tripod. I have never used one before and understand the benefits of using one in low light conditions but does using one in good light conditions add greater sharpness for landscape photography? Thanks.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    A tripod creates stability and I tend to use mine day and night for landscapes, as I am often at the location for quite some time, and it is easier to install filters etc when the camera is on a tripod, than juggling the camera in one hand and a filter in the other. I also find I can get more accurate compositions using a tripod, things like checking the horizon is level is much easier, than when hand holding, simply cause I lock the camera in place, whereas body movement can alter horizon levels slightly and constantly when shooting.

    Sharpness is affected by a lot of factors and camera stability is just one of them, so why not use a tripod whenever you can and ensure that at least one of the lack of sharpness issues is eliminated. Other things that can affect sharpness are lens quality, filter quality, shutter speed, ISO, aperture (lenses have a 'sweet' F stop, where they are sharpest, usually around f8-f14), mirror slap (movement caused to the camera by the mirror moving away from the sensor and hitting against the internal camera body, photographer movement (hold your hand out and see how steady you really are).

    So using a tripod may not result in sharper photos on its own, but you are removing one of the causes of lack of sharpness, by using one
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    Thanks for your quick and detailed reply Rick.

    One of the guidelines I have been reading on the web suggests that hand held is OK if the shutter speed is faster than the reciprocal of the lens focal length. eg If you are shooting at 100mm then using a shutter speed quicker than 1/100th of a second will give good results. I can understand this as a guide when you need to shoot hand held but does this then mean that using a tripod in this situation is of no real benefit?

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    that is a general rule of thumb, to have shutter speed by at least one stop faster than focal length.

    It will most often work, but sometimes you'll find when you view the photo at full size or even magnify it, there can be some motion blur.
    Also if your like me with very unsteady hands the rule won't always work.

    reiterating what ricktas said, if you have the chance to use a tripod you'd be silly not to regardless of conditions. But yes often Tripod use will be impractical, difficult or even impossible then the rule of thumb is a handy thing to remember.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Johnston View Post
    One of the guidelines I have been reading on the web suggests that hand held is OK if the shutter speed is faster than the reciprocal of the lens focal length. eg If you are shooting at 100mm then using a shutter speed quicker than 1/100th of a second will give good results. I can understand this as a guide when you need to shoot hand held but does this then mean that using a tripod in this situation is of no real benefit?
    The 1/FL rules should also allow for crop factor.
    i.e. unless you have a 35mm sensor you need to multiply by 1.5 (Nikon/Pentax) 1.6 for Canon.
    BUT! If you lens or camera have stabilisation the it needs to e factored in (between 2.5 and 4 stops).

    This ONLY deals with camera shake, NOT subject movement.

    Subject movement still requires a sufficient shutter speed to freeze the subject.
    A person running perpendicular to you needs 1/1000 to freeze.
    A person running at a 45 degree angle needs 1/500 and if the are running towards you you need 1/250.
    These are only guides.

    Of course shooting motor sports you may use a slow shutter speed 1/60th or even 1/30th and a panning technique to freeze the vehicle but get a nice blurred background suggesting speed.

    Bird photography ideally requires 1/500 or better because they move so quickly.

    In the end shutter speed depends on what you want to do creatively. There are no rules, only guides.

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    Another benefit of using a tripod, even if you can use a fast shutter speed, is that it allows you to compose your shot. It allows you to take in the scene longer and pick out any things that are not wanted in the frame. In the long terms it allows you to have a more effective eye for better composition etc.
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    Just one more thing, a cheap wobbly tripod is worse than no tripod at all. Search the other threads for information on tripods.
    David

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    Thanks for these replies. They are very helpful. Another question that I have regarding using a tripod is the use of a remote control for the camera to reduce camera shake when pushing the shutter button. One approach I understand is to use a 2 second delay in shooting. An alternative is to use a remote controller so that you don't actually touch the camera to trigger the shutter. I have a Canon 60D and the remote I have seen advertised is the RC-6, which is infra-red and so needs a direct line of sight to the front of the camera to work. Are there any FM controllers that can be used so that I can trigger the shutter from behind the camera? Thanks. Greg Johnston.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I just use a corded remote shutter release, stand behind the camera and push the button. For landscapes you don't really need a wireless one. But if you are shooting say a series of self portraits etc, than a wireless one could be handy
    Last edited by ricktas; 22-10-2011 at 6:05pm.

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    I use the 2 second mirror up delay when wanting to eliminate mirror slap and shutter shake with landscapes and night shots.
    I also use a remote from time to time.

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    I'm slack as well , Tripod and Mirror Lockup up ,2 sec timer delay , I do have both corded remote and Wireless for long shots at Sunrise , But in the dark I dont want to get to complicated
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




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    Thanks again for your replies. This sounds good advice. I really appreciate it.

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    I also have a 60D and use a tripod quite a lot.
    One big advantage with using a tripod, is that you can use your live view to see what you are actually taking, and think about it before you shoot.
    Using the 10X magnifier with live view (just press the + button on the righthand side of the camera, near the top), and you can then focus on the exact spot YOU want it to focus on by using the 4-way controller to put the white square exactly where you want it.
    Manual focus is usually better than using auto focus when on a tripod.

    I also use a wired remote release, but it is just a cheap, $23 one I got off the web, but it does everything including delayed release, time lapse and some other things, and is a real godsend, especially when I use it in the studio to do product shots.

    Handheld photography is great for point and shoot, but when you want to craft a really nice photo, and you have the time to set up and think about it, putting the camera on a good quality, safe and secure tripod with a good head on it - can't be beaten.
    In difficult lighting conditions, keeping the camera on a tripod allows you to take multiple exposures of exactly the same shot so you can meld them together on the PC to give you HDR, which really can't be done well by just hand holding.
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    While the replies above of course refer mostly to DSLRs - there's another category where tripods have been becoming "essentials" for a couple of years - the Long-Zoom Bridge Cameras.

    The combination of small P&S sensors and 30x / 720mm equiv - 35x / 840mm equiv, and more - makes hand-holding at anywhere near full-zoom very difficult - particularly when the aperture reduces with zoom, so also does the light - and the ability of the AF to focus and lock-on.

    I have a Fuji HS10 - 24-720mm equiv - which up to '500mm' handles quite well in Shutter or Aperture Priority, but past that, even in what seems to be adequate light, the AF begins to "hunt" for lock-on - and past '600mm' holding the camera steady for long enough for the AF to "find focus", then get the shot, is becoming awkward. It's actually easier to use the good MF, handheld in that situation - but results aren't at all 'consistent'.

    So I frequently use a tripod and Manual mode, with MF. I have a basic Slick F740 which is light and backpack size, and works adequately - though if windy, dropping it down 1 set on the legs is better.

    I haven't used a Panasonic FZ150 - with TC extender to give 1,020mm optical zoom - but suspect that trying to hand-hold and AF with that setup might be a little difficult... A good tripod - somewhat more solid than my present one - would likely be in order.

    Regards, Dave.

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