10 things we learned in this test
A few design flourishes or clever tricks can go a long way towards making a tripod even more useful
1 Weigh it down
Most tripods feature a weight hook, usually at the bottom of the centre column. Hanging a weight (for example, your camera bag) from this can add stability when shooting outdoors in breezy conditions.
2 From the top
In order to ensure maximum rigidity, it’s best to extend the upper (fatter) sections first, and to only extend the lower (thinner) sections if necessary.
3 Exposure delay
Many Nikon D-SLRs feature an exposure delay mode as a custom function. This helps to avoid mirror bounce, and will ensure sharper shots, especially when you’re using macro or telephoto lenses with your camera on a tripod.
4 Centre column pivot
Pivoting centre columns locked into horizontal boom mode are especially useful for macro shooting, and for avoiding getting the tripod feet in frame during ultra-wide-angle shooting.
5 On the level
Bubble levels in the tripod help to ensure that it’s level when set up, but only bubble or spirit levels in the head’s camera platform enable you to level the actual camera.
6 In the bag
A padded tripod bag is good to have, even if you need to buy one separately. This is especially true for carbon fibre tripods, which can shatter or break on impact.
7 Comfort padding
Spongy padding on one or more of the upper leg sections enables comfortable carrying, especially in cold weather, and also helps to protect the tripod from damaging knocks.
8 Clip or twist?
Twist-action leg locks aren’t any slower to use than the more common clip locks, and they can provide equally firm locking.
9 Centre column extension
We usually recommend extending the centre column of your tripod only as a last resort, when you absolutely need extra height. However, it can be preferable to extending the bottom leg sections if they’re very thin and you’re in a situation where the tripod might wobble or move.
10 What head?
Ball heads tend to be quicker and easier to adjust than three-way tripod heads, whereas the latter can be better for making very fine adjustments.