Are You Type A or Type B - When it comes to a tripod?

Basically, there are two types of tripods:

Type A: The type that is very affordable and very easy to carry.

Type B: The type that is a bit more expensive and a bit harder to carry.

The photographers who participate on my workshops show up with both types, but the photographers who show up with Type A leave the workshop knowing that as soon as they home they will purchase a Type B tripod. Here’s why.

Type A tripods are not as sturdy as Type B tripods. When shooting on a windy day at slow shutter speeds, Type A tripods might shake and you might get a blurry picture.

Type A tripods may actually blow over on a windy day, especially the light ones.

Type A tripods don’t offer the flexibility and height as more expensive tripods.

Type A tripods usually don’t support telephoto lenses as well as Type B tripods.

The legs of Type A tripods don’t lock as securely as the legs on Type B tripods.

Heads and release plates on Type A tripods don’t hold your camera as securely as those found on Type B tripods. Camera movement is sometimes also limited.

Type A tripods don’t hold up to weather and salt spray as well as Type B tripods.

The end of story: Spend a few extra bucks on a tripod and you will not regret your purchase.  Also, you may want to purchase two Type B tripods: one for your light lens shooting and one for your “big guns” shooting. 

If you are serious about landscape and wildlife photography, a Type B tripod is the only choice.

As an aside, the same goes for tele-converters: Go for the camera band name, and not an off-brand name.

My tripods and tele-converters, as well as well as all my camera gear, are listed on my Gear page.

Explore the light,

P.S. All the photographs in this post were taken on my recent Iceland Adventure with my Canon 5D Mark III.

Tripod Trials and Tribulations

Hi Gang,

For many, choosing a tripod is almost as hard, or even harder, than choosing a camera bag. Decisions, decisions, decisions!

I'll cover camera bags in another post. For now, I'd like to share with you what I look for in a tripod . . . actually tripods, because I have two: one for lightweight shooting (17-40mm lens and 24-105mm lens) and one for heavier duty shooting (70-200mm lens and 100-400mm lens).

Before reading on, keep in mind that I don't use 500mm and longer lenses. The longest lens I own is my Canon 100-400m ISL lens. (Click here for my gear list.)

Here are the key features and benefits that I look for in a tripod:
• Quick-release bracket for fast mounting and dismounting.
• Bubble level to level my shots.
• Ease of opening and closing - with twist locks rather than snap locks.
• Ball-head for quick horizontal and vertical shooting.
• Lightweight and compact.
• Solid as a rock.
• Height adjustment for low-level and high-level shooting.
• Size (for carry-on consideration).
• Weather resistant.
• Padded legs for comfort.
• Carry strap for hand-free shooting.
• Ease of operation.

Before you buy a tripod, check it out personally or talk with others who have used the brand and model you want to purchase. Do a web search for sure.

Good tripods (and ball heads) don't come cheap. On that note, don't cheap-out when it comes to a tripod - especially if you are into HDR photography, low-light photography, wildlife photography . . . well, you get the message.

You'll notice that my cameras are "strapless" in these photos. I removed the straps for beauty sake. When I am shooting in the field, I always use a camera strap and hold onto it when I am carrying my tripod over my shoulder . . . just in case I mess up and don't tighten the quick release bracket. I saw that happen to another photographer – and saw the smashed results on the ground. :-(

Steady as you shoot,
P.S. I actually have another tripod: my JOBY mini-tripod.