Not everyone wants to use a tripod and to be honest, I have used several different solid objects on which to rest my camera in really low light, including my children!
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work, as often there isn’t a convenient pillar on which to rest your camera, or indeed a small child to use, so a tripod is a really handy prop for keen photographers. It doesn’t need to be large, or heavy, or even particularly tall, but if you take lots of photographs then stooping can be a real no, no for the back, so go for the taller versions.
There are lots of different ways a tripod can help a photograph. Stopping camera shake is probably the most obvious; that’s when the entire photo is out of focus and not just an error in focusing on the subject. Churches, museums, night clubs, concerts are all places where lighting can be tricky, so although the bouncers won’t let you in to the nightclub and concert, with a lethal weapon, churches and museums tend to be a lot less picky.
Macro photography is another area where a tripod can be invaluable. Make sure you buy one with a centre column that inverts, as this gets your camera closer to the ground and makes for fantastic micro photography. Also look out for independent locking legs, (not yours, the tripods) as this means that you can set up on most un-even surfaces making it easier to get a level shot.
Last but not least, the invention of the travel tripod.
Someone with a lot of time on their hands came up with the genius idea of tripod legs that fold back on themselves and we love them for it. This makes the tripod really compact and great for sliding into a backpack, or strapping to the bottom of a camera bag; perfect for trips abroad either on the sunny Costa del Sol, or the steamy suburbs of Bangkok.
Oooo and just one thing more, when you buy a tripod, check that its head and legs and not just legs, as that can be really frustrating - tripods can sometimes be a bit rubbish, if they are legs only.