September 20, 2010

No the War of the Worlds invaders, but the things to keep your camera steady.

Tripods are really awkward things to get your head around.  The big problem is so many places sell cheap photography tripods as something you can use with a camcorder.    And you can, if you never want to move the camera while recording.

We struggled for a long time with cheap tripods.  The prevailing wind of course is that you need a Fluid-Head Tripod.   Which moves the camera on a bed of oil preventing all friction.   This is great if you have a few thousand pounds free.

There is a third option, inbetween cheap & useless and ultra professional.   And that’s the Manfrotto 501 range.

Manfrotto 501 tripod head

For some reason, semi-professional tripods are sold as heads and legs separately.   I’m not sure why, it’s not as if you can use the head without legs and a set of legson their own is no good if you ever plan to attach a camera to them.

You need the Manfrotto 501 head ~ £75 and a set of legs for them, also around £75.

That jumps the price up a bit from a £20 tripod you can buy off Amazon, but you’ll just have to trust me when I say that the level of control and flexbility you get is worth it.  

Not to mention the robustness.

An additional feature that has already saved me a couple of times is you can’t accidently drop the camera off the tripod once it’s attached!  That little red safety button on the side stops the camera shoe slipping.  Phew!