Tripods, the one accessory every microstock photographer must have

posted on 19th of august, 2013

This subject has been touched on a few times here in the forum. But the importance of this subject warrants a refresher article on this important subject…

One of the most important photography accessories, if not THE most important, is a tripod. I use mine whenever it is possible. Even if I have great light and can shoot with a fast shutter speed, I still use it. Why? Because it provides the sharpest image possible. All of the photography knowledge you have will go out the window if you can’t get a sharp image, and time will be wasted on that shot that may have made you some nice money.

The sole purpose of a tripod is to remove the possibility of camera shake resulting in an out of focus photo. Camera shake is caused by a number of things. Here’s a few of them when you’re shooting without a tripod…

Long shutter speeds
The lens you use
The size of your sensor
Environmental factors (like strong wind when shooting outside)

I have gotten sharp images when hand holding my camera with shutter speeds as low as 1/15th of a second, but those were lucky shots and they are far and few in between. I’ve wasted too much time and lost too many great shots because I use to be too lazy to drag my tripod along with me. Those days are over.

Shutter speed, lens and sensor size

An old rule of thumb states that to get a really sharp photo you need a minimum shutter speed equal to the focal length of the lens you use. So if you are shooting with a 50mm lens, the slowest shutter speed you should use is is 1/50th of a second for a really sharp photo. 100mm lens, shoot at 1/100th of a second, Etc.

Another issue is your camera’s sensor size. If your camera has a cropped sensor, you will need to convert to a 35mm equivalent focal length for sharpness. So if your camera has a crop factor of 1.5, like my Nikon D5100, then you have to take the rule from the paragraph above and multiply it by 1.5. So a focal length of 100mm would require a shutter speed of over 1/150th of a second for the sharpest photo when you’re shooting by hand.

So, if you have a tripod you can leave your calculator at home and shoot the photo with the necessary setting and get sharp images no matter what the conditions. I think it’s better to choose your settings on the conditions of the scene as opposed to settings based on the fact that you’re shooting by hand.

I won’t go into low-light and night photography here because after reading the above info it’s obvious you’re not going to be doing any low-light photography without a tripod!

But I do need to mention a remote clicker is also an essential part of the tripod experience. With a remote, since you won’t even be touching the camera, every part of the human element is removed and sharp images will be your new norm. Then you can truly focus on the technical aspects of your camera setting and get better shots much more of the time.

Comments (18)

Posted by Clearvista on September 27, 2014
Yes I use my tripod a great deal and it is an essential part of my equipment. I broke one of the legs recently and had to put my "list" on hold till the brilliant Giotto customer services replaced it free for me. I would be lost without it.
Posted by Eric1513 on September 26, 2014
Couldn't agree more! I try to use a tripod at every opportunity when using long lenses, or macro or when chasing creative light.
Posted by Antonio1962 on February 21, 2014
Great advice,i realy dont use to mutch the tripod,but must change.thanks for sharing
Posted by Virgilxxn on September 18, 2013
...agree, all the right things are said and a DECENT tripod is a must Compare enlarged at 100% to see the difference, even if you use high shutter speed with plenty of light
Posted by Martingraf on August 23, 2013
the sensor size hasn't really got to do with the shutter speed - the formula stays the same, no matter if cropped or not - but I agree to the tripod - I just sometimes don't like to take it with me so I lean on whatever is available - great portfolio!
Posted by Yadamons on August 22, 2013
I take many photos on tripod and sell them as stock images.
Posted by Mike2focus on August 21, 2013
Thanks for your input everyone. Some really great tips have been added to this by you all!

Don't forget to click the "Useful" button!!
Posted by Egomezta on August 21, 2013
You're right, but I usually don't use it since most of my pics are travel images, and it's difficult to carry it every where and also there are many crowded places that don't allow them. What I do is to use any object like a tree, post, table, etc., to get steady, hold my breath and take the image. Most of my night images are taken that way.
Posted by Unteroffizier on August 21, 2013
I use the tripod to hold my speed light flash unit for remote triggering on my field work for all my insect macro and indoor still life shots. I have both my hands free to hold my camera with lens.
Posted by Davidwatmough on August 21, 2013
Although you give a good rule its best to double because as you get older you become more shaky...... sorry to admit it but its true. If the eye lashes in a portrait aren't sharp I bucket the shot.
Posted by Lenutaidi on August 21, 2013
Yes, it's very good to have and a tripod.Especially for long exposure.And not only...
Posted by Fredbro on August 20, 2013
It's true that we sometimes are too lazy to go and get the tripod. With today's DSLRs, it's tempting to just crank up the ISO but it is then much more difficult to get a good stock image. Too much work on noise needed! So yes, a tripod is necessary!
Posted by Bradcalkins on August 20, 2013
You can also take many photos of your tripod and sell them as stock images.

I tried that, but only made back $4.22 so far :) Turns out I wasn't the first one to think of that!
Posted by Adeliepenguin on August 20, 2013
Thanks for sharing your insights:) One other thought for those who don't have a remote clicker, use the self timer on the camera to cut down the camera shake you might otherwise get by pushing the shutter release button.
Posted by Nikon4004 on August 20, 2013
I don't use a tripod all that much as my main focus is weddings and that involves a lot of moving around. But gor other types of photography, I rely on my monopod to her me steady the camera.
Posted by Daddiomanottawa on August 20, 2013
Tripods definitely have a place in my life as well.
Twilight, night and early morning shooting in particular.
Inside low-light forests or long-lens shooting.
Flowing water exposures with ND filters for that dreamy, silky water effect.
And so on.
For that reason, I'm like you and always have it nearby.
In my car, just in case.
In my custom-built carry tube on my bicycle, just in case.
On my custom walking cart, just in case.
On my wifes back, just in case.
Theme here, if carrying it on wheels or by sherpa it's with me (lol- hope my wife doesn't read this!).

I rarely, during daylight hours however, walk with it on my body unless I know I'm shooting something such as above. I'm comfortable shooting up to iso 800 with my micro four thirds for stock and higher for personal or family shots (Yah, I know, there are other cameras that can shoot higher for stock).
Yes, I've missed some shots when the light changed unexpectedly or I stayed out too late but not too many.
In a pinch, leaning...(More)
Posted by Unteroffizier on August 20, 2013
You can also take many photos of your tripod and sell them as stock images.
Posted by Sureshshivan on August 20, 2013

Comments (18)

This article has been read 1423 times. 4 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Venkra.

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I am a photographer, art director and designer living in Florida. My passion is to capture great stock images. Thanks for checking out my portfolio!

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