TIPS: Support (and why not to skimp)

Every photographer knows how vital it is to have a tripod amongst your gear bag, but many people who are just getting into the hobby or profession often are scared away by highly priced tripods. While the price-tag attached to premium tripods are quite daunting, I have learned a thing a two through my past purchases that have become mistakes. For years, I purchased inexpensive and seemingly sufficient tripods and ball heads until I recently broke yet another basic Manfrotto. As I took to the internet and consulted the advice of many others, I looked back on the have dozen or so mediocre tripods I'd bought and realized I'd essentially wasted thousands on tripods that could never withstand over a year of heavy use, nor were they very stable. I still saw a great deal of camera shake in all of my night shots and this had to change if I wanted to up my game professionally. My basic cost analysis told me to swallow my pride and learn from my mistakes and fork out the funds for a truly reliable and more stable tripod that could actually support the weight of the gear it would be bearing. I also took the opportunity to go a little overkill on the tripod and ball head's weight bearing ability in the case I'd rent or buy a super telephoto. This has proven to be a wise decision. A golden rule of thumb is to buy a tripod and ball-head that support AT LEAST TWICE THE WEIGHT of your gear.

So, what do I use for my supports? Well I have two setups that I use regularly. A monopod and a tripod. Now these setups are a little overkill for most, but are very necessary when loading on massive setups like my gripped DSLR including my 500mm F4.0L II which I use for sports and wildlife shooting. These are also very long rigs that allow for higher shooting heights with guaranteed support—especially when shooting low light or astrophotography.

Tripod:

  • Induro GIT304L capable of holding 55LB

  • Really Right Stuff BH-55 capable of holding 50LB

  • (wildlife rig) Wimberley II or Wimberley Sidekick gimbal

Monopod:

  • Induro GIM505XL capable of holding 66LB

  • Induro basic swivel head