The tripod is one of the most important accessories in photography. Tripod-free shooting allows only very fast shutter speeds and using a tripod will be essential should you wish to photograph the stars or even some natural landscapes with a long exposure.
Although absolutely necessary, too many photographers neglect the tripod whose prices generally range from EUR 50 to EUR 500 for the most expensive models. But after all, what differences exist and why should there be such a price gap?
Weight, stability and price
Three main elements should guide you in making your choice: weight, stability and the price.
If you are planning a hike, it is recommended not to overload yourself. Your back will suffer quickly from the additional load induced by the tripod. Be careful at the time of purchase and do not hesitate to underweight the tripod to get an idea.
The more stable a tripod, the better your chances of success. Take the example of a 30-second exposure applied to photograph flashes at nightfall. The wind is coming-up and is gusty. The slightest vibration during the exposure period will suffice to ruin your picture and make it simply unusable.
Price is a criterion that goes without explanations. Some tripods are incredibly expensive and most photographers do not need the best, but just the right tripod matching their needs. The price is generally justified by the material used: aluminum (cheap, heavier and less stable) and carbon (expensive, light and stable). A qualitative aluminum tripod with a light ball-head will usually suffice for most photographers.
Easy to carry, easy to assemble
A lightweight tripod can easily be fixed to your photo backpack if the the latter has a hanging strap or a compartment for this purpose. At the time of purchase, do not hesitate to ask the seller to mount and disassemble the tripod in front of you. Under certain conditions, a quick and easy mounting will be very appreciated (especially in very cold weather when your hands are numb).
Some user tips
Clean the floor to prevent the tripod from dropping or being unstable.
Extend the legs and center column only if necessary. The higher the center of gravity, the greater the risk of camera blur.
Always check that your camera is securely attached to the tripod. Avoid carrying the tripod with your camera on.