Camera Tripod Position and Good Tripod Mount Tips
Finding the best camera tripod position is vital for many kinds of photography including landscape photography, portraiture and even some street photography situations. It is therefore unfortunate that tripods are somewhat cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming to set up. Even though modern cameras can cope with many badly lit scenes, camera tripods for cameras are still an essential piece of kit.
Setting up your camera tripod mount properly will ensure a good tripod position and stop it falling over and breaking your equipment. The benefits are psychological too. If you invest the time to set up a good tripod position, you are more likely to take time to create the best composition possible.
While a camera tripod is a simple piece of kit, it is a mistake to set it up without thought. By optimising the camera tripod position you can achieve true stability and get incredibly sharp, detailed images.
Here are some of the subjects covered in this article you can click to fast-forward to the paragraph if you wish:
What Makes a Good Tripod for Cameras? Advice for Choosing a Camera Tripod
There are many camera tripods available for a variety of prices. Before buying, it is important to consider what features make a good tripod.
Find a Good Camera Tripod Mount
A good tripod mount firmly connects your camera to the legs and allows you some freedom of movement. It also maintains the camera on tripod position without drifting or movement when you let go.
Strong Camera Tripod Legs
You need a tripod with good, strong legs to support the mount it but you need to consider the weight and type of latches that secure the extensions. Look carefully at the tripod documentation to find the weight the they are expected to hold. Look for a tripod with extendable legs and will not struggle to hold your camera.
Camera Tripod Feet Need Good Grips
Make sure you choose a tripod with feet that can grip to the surface and anchor the tripod. Avoid tripods that are made of cheap rubber and plastic as the can easily slip casing your tripod to fall and break and damage your camera. Look for tripods that have rubber covers that can be removed to reveal spikes for shooting on soft surfaces such as grass.
Find the Ideal Camera Tripod height
It is important to own a tripod with the ideal height in order to get the best camera tripod position. Most photographers will tell you that it is good practice to stand up straight while shooting. Therefore the camera tripod mount should be level with your chin. Don’t compensate for a short tripod by increasing the central extension pole as you will lose stability.
Use a Camera Tripod Mount to Reduce Noise
Noise is the grainy effect you can see in low quality images. This happens when ISO levels are increased on your digital camera. Think of the hiss you hear in the background when you increase the volume on your radio or CD player. The principle is the same; an amplification in signal results in imperfections.
Therefore, until digital camera technology advances to the stage where image quality is maintained regardless of ISO setting, we must use a low ISO to maintain high quality pictures. One option is to use flash photography for creative and natural-looking images. However, the built-in flash on your camera will not be powerful enough in most cases so you must buy a more substantial flash. Flash photography is fine for portrait photography but ineffective for scenic pictures where there is nothing for the light to bounce off.
In many cases the best option is to place your camera on a good tripod mount and reduce your ISO and shutter speed.
Level the Camera Tripod Mount
The first thing to do when shooting with a tripod is to make sure the camera is level on the tripod mount. Use the bubble level if you tripod comes with one and adjust each leg until the bubble is in the middle of the guide lines. Some tripods have a ball mount to help you level the camera. Either way, keep the mount level to get the best results.
Good Camera Tripod Position for Creative Photography
By finding a good tripod position for your camera you can achieve interesting creative results. A couple of examples of this use of camera tripod photography are:
City landscapes with traffic streaking into the night
Moving clouds through the twilight
You need long shutter speeds to keep the image in sharp focus and present motion in the photograph. The only way to achieve this is to keep the camera absolutely still for half a minute or longer. This is not possible without a good tripod mount and cable release or timer.
The importance of the tripod varies according to the intended use of the images. For small prints or small images on a web page, the quality of the images may not be important. However, if the end use is a large print for public display or if you wish to sell your images, correct use of a camera tripod mount is essential.
Don’t Rush the Composition
It’s difficult and inadvisable to try to set up your camera tripod position quickly so take your time in locating the composition first. As with many types of photography, look at the scene from many different angles. Use your camera’s viewfinder to frame the scene as a photograph.
Best Camera Tripod Leg Position
You have to options for positioning your tripod’s legs: Two legs forward towards the subject or one leg forward, pointing directly at the subject. This depends on your own preference when shooting on level ground. The position of the viewfinder also influences this decision.
Perhaps the most preferable position is to point one tripod leg toward your subject. This has two benefits; you can stand between the other two tripod legs with plenty of room , reducing the risk of hitting the tripod, and the camera is more stable when pointed into the ground in this way.
However, if you are taking pictures down a slope, you can achieve greater stability with two legs pointing forward.
Ensure the Weight of the Camera is Distributed Evenly Across the Triopod
Make sure that the centre post of the camera tripod mount is positioned vertically and straight. You can ensure good tripod mount position by using a spirit level attached to the post. Some levels come as part of the tripod but if yours doesn’t have one, it is well worth the relatively small investment.
Don’t Extend the Centre Post
Don’t extend the centre post and try not to use it because it is less stable than the tripod with three legs spread out. It can take longer to set up the tripod to its ideal position but it will be worth to get the best image possible.
How to Achieve Good Camera Tripod Position with Long and Short Lenses
L-Brackets are best for short lenses and attach your camera on the tripod mount. This allows you to get a good tripod mount position with short lenses and in portrait position. The L-Bracket’s advantages are that the camera is kept at the centre of the tripod where it can be best supported and it can also give extra height to images when using portrait position.
Long lenses can alter the gravity of the camera so a tripod collar attached to the camera tripod mount can evenly balance the weight between the camera and lens.
Try to Keep Your Tripod Completely Stable
You may find yourself in taking photographs in high winds which will cause your camera to shudder if the tripod isn’t completely stable. In this case you can try adding weight to the centre post. Many have a hook built-in to hang a bag or some other heavy item that can help to stabilise the tripod. However, check that the weight you use isn’t shaking a lot or hitting the tripod legs as this will make the tripod even more unstable.
Mini Camera Tripods
Mini tripods allow you to maintain a steady camera without carrying a full-size tripod with you. They are generally table-top sized and fold up really small so that they can easily fit in a bag or, sometimes a coat pocket. Mini camera tripods are generally more useful for smaller, compact cameras but come in a wide variety of sizes and can accommodate larger DSLRs with lenses.
They are often used by vloggers because of their adaptability They provide a good camera tripod position whilst remaining unobtrusive in situations where a full-sized tripod is not appropriate. They are also sometimes used in smart phone photography.
Monopod vs Tripod
We have already discussed the importance of good tripod position for avoiding shakes at slow shutter speeds, night photography and long exposures. A monopod differs from the tripod, as the name suggests, it is a single leg supported camera mount.
Always use a tripod ahead of a monopod for long exposures, macro photography, still life and for all high-definition shots. Tripod hold the camera steady to achieve the best possible results and ensure there is no shake as the camera is held firmly in position.
The downside to tripos are that they are heavy to move and time-consuming to set up. They also restrict the speed at which you can move the camera. The monopod wins over the tripod where speed is concerned.
Monopods are best for speed and mobility where a completely stable camera position is not the main priority. They are useful for supporting the photographer on long days when the muscles can tire from holding the camera in position. Monopods lend themselves well to sports photography as they provide more mobility and the ability to react quickly to situations. With only one leg, they are much easier to set up then tripods.
With increased versatility comes less stability. If you are looking to achieve the effects shown at the start of this article such as flowing traffic, then you will need to use a tripod. However, if you need help to prevent your arms tiring from holding your camera, then a monopod will help.
Remember that you can’t always use a tripod in place of a monopod and vice versa. For more technical compositions, use a tripod and for shoots requiring more versatility, use a monopod.
Conclusion – The Importance of Setting Up a Good Camera Tripod Position
The temptation is to rush through setting up your camera tripod and get to the interesting bit of actually shooting the scene. However, with a little care, you can obtain a good tripod position for maximum stability to get the sharpest image possible.