5 tripod stability tips

Use these 5 tripod stability tips and you're guaranteed to get sharper photos. Have you ever wondered why you can still got blurry photo even though you used your tripod?

It's a common photography mistakeYou use your tripod and you automatically think you'll get perfectly sharp, blur-free images, right? It's happened to me and I'll bet it's happened to more photographers than you think.

Unfortunately, we've all likely felt the disappointment of getting an unsharp photo even though we used our favorite accessory, our tripod. Here are the top 5 tripod stability tips to make sure you get the most out of your tripod:

5 tripod stability tips - video

Here are the same tips, just put into a video format in case you like watching instead of reading. I played around with some video editing software and this is the first time I've ever spliced so many short clips together. I believe it gets the points across in an easy to understand format.



You may be familiar with a few of them, but if you know about all 5 of these stability techniques, you won't ever have to worry about even the slightest blur in your photos from camera movement, when you use a tripod.


5. don't touch your camera

That is, don't touch the shutter button with your finger when you take your photo. Yes, even when your camera is securely mounted to the top of your tripod.  

The pressure from your touch can cause a tiny movement in the camera that can affect sharpness. You may not notice it on the back of your camera's LCD screen, but a lack of sharpness becomes more apparent when you view your photos on a larger screen or on a print.

Camera trigger fingerDon't Touch

Use a camera shutter cord to prevent blur from camera movementShutter Cord

Remote camera trigger for stabilityRemote Trigger

You can use the camera's self timer, attach a shutter cord, or use a remote shutter trigger. All of these techniques prevent you from causing even a slight camera movement when you capture your image.


4. spread the tripod legs far apart

You can increase the stability of your tripod by spreading the legs out far. This lowers the center of gravity of your camera-tripod combination. This is not an option for those of you who have a tripod with leg braces that connect the center pole with the legs

Spread tripods legsSpread your tripod legs farther apart for added stability.

You're somewhat limited by the length of the center pole and the space you have available. Tripods without a center pole can spread flat to the ground.

Cheaper tripods come with braces that connect the legs to the center column at the bottom.

This means you don't have the option of spreading the legs out wider. This type of tripod is easily the most affordable to buy.

I call them disposable tripods.


Affordable cheap tripodTripod With Leg Braces

In my experiences with these tripods, they simply don't last very long. They are very affordable, for sure, but a really well built tripod should last a lifetime.


3. extend the thicker legs first

If you don't have to extend all of your leg section fully, it's best to keep the skinniest tripod leg sections retracted. The thicker, upper leg sections are stronger and give you a slight advantage in tripod stability.

Thicker tripod leg sectionsThicker tripod leg sections give you more stability.

This is particularly important when you have tripods that have 4 or 5 leg sections. Use the upper, thicker tripod legs first and keep the thinner legs retracted.

Secondly, having the legs overlap in equal amounts like the photo above is better when you have several section. Fully extending just one section of a leg is less stable than having several sections extended.


2. keep the center column down

Tripod with center column raised

When it's raised high, your tripod's center pole is more like a monopod. It's not as stable.

You lose a lot of the beneficial stability that you get from 3 legs.

When considering what tripod size to buy, remember it is a nice feature to be able to get your camera high enough without having to fully extend the center column.


1.   stability tip

This is perhaps the most underutilized of the tripod stability tips for keeping your tripod steady:  Weigh it down. Combined with the 5th stability tip (a remote trigger), you will get the sharpest, blur-free images. 

Make your tripod heavier anyway you can. I get it, You want to carry less weight and that's why ultra light tripods have become increasingly popular. The downside to using a light tripod is that they move easier and are less steady.

Tripod center pole weightHang something heavy from your
tripod center pole to increase stability.


I've seen a lot of photographers hang their camera bag on the center pole. It makes sense, since you already have your bag with you. You don't have to search around for another object to use. Just make sure everything is zippered and secure. You don't want any of your precious cargo to fall out and get damaged. 

You can use anything that's handy or you can buy specific gadgets that are convenient and easy to use. I've used a plastic bag, and inserted a few nearby rocks into the bag. That's a thrifty way add to the overall weight and stability of your tripod.


accessories to make your tripod more stable



Gadgets that attach to all three legs are nice because they don't hang down too low.

They are very light, fold up flat, and can be filled with anything to give you the added weight.


Tripod pole clampTripod Pole Clamp


If your tripod center column has no hook, you can also buy a pole clamp to attach extra weight to your tripod.

The advantage to getting one of these is that they have many uses.

I also use this clamp to clip my extrnal speedlite battery to.



Sand bags are versatile to use because they can be used in a variety of ways. They're easy to carry and can be clamped or hung overtop.

Sandbags are great to weigh down light stands. I use mine to prevent my stands from being tipped over by the wind when my large light reflector panels are attached.


other factors that affect tripod stability

Wind. Wind can easily add movement to your tripod and camera during an exposure. This is even more true if you are using technique number 1 and hanging a large object from the center pole.

Sometimes you can block the wind with your body as you shoot. Other times you may just have to wait until the wind dies down before you can take your photo.


DSLR Mirror Bounce. If you have a DSLR camera, it uses a mirror that has to flip up out of the way when a photo is taken. This can cause a vibration that could affect sharpness.

Some cameras have a mirror lock-up setting that flips the mirror up and lets it settle before you make the exposure.

Surprisingly, this is less of a problem with very long exposures.


These techniques aren't super complicated, but it's important you understand all of them when you're out on a photo shoot.  If you found these 5 tripod stability tips helpful, please share it.


Watch less TV.

Shoot more photos.

Bruce


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