camera tripod accessories
(cool gadgets FOR YOUR TRIPOD)

You've got your ideal tripod. Now, what camera tripod accessories can help you with your picture taking activities. Having the right accessories for your tripod can make certain tasks possible and other photography tasks even easier to accomplish. This article will give you some ideas on how to get the most out of your tripod by adding a gadget or two.

Traditional accessories for tripods, and sometimes monopods, may include the typical clamps, tripod heads, adapters, cases, and quick release brackets. There are also some very interesting gadgets that can be used in very specific types of digital photography and video. Let's dive in, first with the basics.

basic tripod accesssories

Almost all tripods already come with a tripod head of some sort, but if you're not thrilled with the head that your tripod came with, you should take a look into the single most important accessory your tripod has, its head. Just like you without a head, tripods can't function.

1. tripod heads

4 tripod heads

You want to have the right kind of tripod head attached to your tripod legs to match the kind of photography you are doing. Ball heads give you ultimate flexibility in changing  orientation and shooting angles in a compact and lightweight design. The larger the head the more weight they can support AND the smoother the movement of your camera.  

Larger DSLR cameras with long telephoto lenses are too heavy for small ball heads, like the one in the video and in this photo.

They are not that useful as good tripod accessories for shooting video.  Pan and tilt heads with long screwdriver type of handles work much better for shooting video and for shooting macro photography. When shooting video you want to be able to smoothly follow our subject and a long handle is a must. When shooting macro it's much easier to make a minute change in your camera angle to get just the right composition.

Here's more on different tripod heads, their features and which is the best for different types of photography.  

2. tripod quick release mounts

Quick Release Mount

Quick release mounts are likely the single most popular tripod accessory sold on the market today. In fact, nowadays it's hard to find tripods that don't come with a quick release system of some kind.  If you are shooting in situations where you go from hand-held photos to tripod-mounted photos in a short time span, a quick release camera mount system is quite useful.  

I've got these gadgets for my Bogen, Manfrotto and RocketFish tripods and I wouldn't want to go without them ever again. It's one of those gadgets that saves you a little time and we all like to save time, right?  

They are all different in design and size, so it is important not to lose the mounting plate other wise your quick release will be worthless without buying a new one. More about choosing the best quick release tripod attachment.

Watch this video if you are just starting your search for a tripod. It's for beginners who don't really know what a quick release tripod mount is or how it is used. This one is a little different than most accessories of this type. It will show you one particular system that uses a thumbscrew to attach the mount to your tripod. Most quick release systems employ a simple lever to release the camera from the tripod.

3. Tripod shoulder strap

For those times when you have to transport several things at once, a tripod strap will free up one of your hands and take a load off of one of your arms. Small tripods can often be attached to your camera bag, but it's a big advantage to have a strap if your hand are full or if you have to carry your tripod for any significant distance.

Padded tripod strap My Favorite Tripod Strap

Tripod center pole attachmentAttached to Center Pole

Tripod strap attachmentAttached to Tripod Top

Tripod strap paddingSuper Cushion Padding

Look for a wide camera strap with a high quality padded section. The width will spread out the weight over a larger area and the thick cushion will make it so much more comfortable. The downside of a thickly padded strap is that it does not store as compactly as a flat as cloth strap will.

You can see, in the advertisement below, that the popular tripod straps come with cinchable loops, rather than the spring-loaded clasps, to attach the strap to your tripod.

4. tripod bags and cases

Tripod Case

Tripod cases are good for keeping your tripod clean and protected from damage when storing or traveling. Some are quite thin and in reality offer very little protection from impact damage, but are good for keeping your tripod's mechanisms clean and make it handy to carry your tripod.

Other's are thickly padded and are good for you to have if you're shooting activities dictate more protection from impact. A few only have short handle straps and this makes no sense to me.

Make sure to get one with an over the shoulder strap. That will free up both hands to carry your camera case or anything else you want. 

more specific camera tripod accessories

Some accessories for camera tripods are much more specific to either the type of camera you're using or the type of photography you are doing.

Cell phone bracket

iPhone Tripod Bracket

You have 2 reasons on why you'd want to mount your cell phone camera to a tripod. First the quality and smoothness of your videos morphs from shaky and amateurish to professional looking instantly.

Secondly, one of the biggest shortcomings you suffer from even best cell phone cameras is the blurry photos that they produce.  

The newer cell phone come with plenty of pixels jammed onto a very small sensor with adequate lenses to produce sharpness, but these features won't help you with blur caused by camera movement.

The blurriness usually comes down to a slow shutter speed or motion blur of the camera.

The best way to combat this shortcoming is to use a tripod.  You'll also need an app such as self timer or a remote shutter trigger.

Either one of these accessories will help you avoid camera shake when you take your photo.

4. handlebar camera mounts

Motorcycle and Bicycle Handlebar Tripod Mount

The handlebar camera mount has limited uses, but could be useful if you want to shoot hands free (which is the only way to shoot video or still photos while riding a bike or motorcycle). They can attach to any leg of your tripod, including the center pole and come with a variety of options for what you want to attached to the clamp.

Whether you're shooting with your cell phone, a point and shoot camera, or a small DSLR camera, these are very easy to use, very affordable, and take up very little room when you store them.

5. L Brackets

L brackets are a rock solid way to mount your camera on your tripod in both a horizontal or vertical camera orientation. They screw into the 1/4 inch threaded hole on the bottom of your camera and then mount onto your tripod. I purchased an off-brand one made by SunwayFoto and it works just fine.

L Bracket camera mountL Bracket

Horizontal L bracketHorizontal Orientation

Vertical L BracketVertical Orientation

You'll find them useful if want to keep the center of gravity on top of your tripod. You can rotate your camera to a vertical shooting position with a ball head, but small adjustments become more awkward and you've shifted the center of gravity away from the tripod's center column. Watch this short video and you'll see what I mean.

The most important thing to pay attention to when you're looking at L brackets is the compatibility. Some are sold as universal, meaning they'll fit to most cameras. That, to me, is a recipe for disaster. DSLR and mirrorless cameras come in all sizes and shapes and each needs a specific design when it comes to matching it with the right, tight-fitting bracket.

Read a few reviews on these tripod accessories and you'll see what I mean. Here are a few various L brackets you can checkout at Amazon:

tripod weights and pouches

Tripod Stone PouchTripod Stone Pouch

Surprisingly enough, many photographers think that using a tripod will automatically give you razor sharp photos without any worries every time. Usually they do, but if you have an unusually light tripod or you're shooting windy conditions, the sharpness of your photos will suffer from the minute movement of your tripod.

You actually need to improve its stability by making it heavier. Enter the tripod pouch. Attach it to the legs of your tripod, fill it with any objects (rocks, beer bottle, weights) and it will weigh down your tripod and give you a more stable situation for sharper photos. I don't use a tripod pouch. I just use a plastic bag and hook it to the tripod's center post.

one of the coolest ideas:  A tracking video tripod gadget

The SoloShot, a fun accessory that empowers you to follow a subject automatically without human intervention. I've watched several videos on this accessory and it has limited uses, but it could be a great accessory for certain situations.

Two of the most prominent uses are for following an athlete on the field of play and also tracking a surfer as he or she negotiates along a wave. I'm not sure if they've worked out all the kinks with this accessory at this point. It's a lot of money to spend on a product that has gotten such mixed reviews: SoloShot Automatic Cameraman

great place to read reviews on specific camera tripod accessories

No matter where you shop, a great place to read consumer reviews on photography accessories is Amazon.  Amazon sells so much of so many things, I look at it as if it's a search engine like Google, except it's for finding reviews on products. 

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