Why is it good to use a tripod?

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Feb 16, 2016
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Hi, I am trying to decide if I need to invest on a tripod for my iPhone. Why it is recommended to use a tripod when taking photos? I can imagine that it is ideal to use it when taking video as we don't want shaking. For static objects, if we don't like the photo, we could retake it. So, what is the point of using a tripod?
If the shutter speed gets slow it becomes difficult to hold the camera still enough there is no camera shake blur.
A tripod is also used for a variety of photo types, like a series of shots that will be stitched together to make a panorama.

In other words, a tripod is a basic, fundamental accessory worth having.
Tripods prevent the cameras and smartphones from shaking while the shutter is open...except during earthquakes. By holding the camera completely stationary, there will not be any blurring of any stationary items in the picture...buildings, bridges, mountains, etc. Note that I said stationary items. People are not stationary...even when 'posed'.

Taking pictures with an iPhone is akin to a point and shoot camera or any other camera on 'A' (Auto). Based on lighting conditions, and perhaps some analysis of what the subject is, the camera will 'decide' what combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO speed to use to take the picture. 9 times out of 10, an acceptable picture will result. The rest of the time, the photo may have blurred subjects because the camera chose a shutter-open-time too long to 'freeze' subject motion to handle reduced lighting.

Without delving into the Exposure Triangle (the most important aspect of ALL photography), suffice it to say that the longer the shutter is open, the more likely either the camera will shake a bit (even your pulse can shake the camera), and the subject may move a bit. By ensuring the camera doesn't move, that's one cause of blurred photos eliminated.

Given that you're shooting with an iPhone, odds are that most of your shots don't have blurred subjects caused by camera shake. Why? Because the iPhone and other smartphones typically uses a shutter speed fast enough to almost 'freeze' a race-car. Those fast shutter speeds also eliminate any camera-shake issues as the camera hasn't moved 'far enough' in that very short time (perhaps 1/200th second) while being held to cause blurring. But...if you were to be jogging while taking a photo, for example, the same shot could well turn out blurred as you and the camera are moving 'far enough' in 1/200th second to cause a blur.
My iPhone defaults to a LOW ISO value of 80, with the lens wide-open at f/2.8, and favors very slooooow shutter speeds in lower light levels, so...a tripod is actually useful in many, many lower-light situations. Even though my iPhone model goes up to ISO 1000, it still favors low ISO and a slooooow shutter speed, even in situations where moving the ISO up to even 320 would give a speed more like 1/40 second, so I get TONS of subject motion blur with my iPhone, even in fairly bright indoor light, such as at a McDonald's or Wendy's hamburger restaurant, or a grocery store, etc.. This is in fact my single biggest gripe about my iPhone: the exposure program favors low ISO over faster shutter speeds in lower lighting conditions, and that is a huge liability. Perhaps the newest iPhones have adjusted this?

As far as tripod use, it also causes the photographer to have to take some time, seconds, or even maybe a minute, in order to position the tripod, so it causes a slowing down of the photographic process. Secondly, that same positioning allows the shot to be taken and then reviewed and evaluated with the camera kept in one, exact position; after the review, the photographer can reposition the light, or the subject, to get a slightly different look at the subject, or a different pose, while keeping some things constant. Shooting from a tripod can allow you to literally see a mistake, and to correct it.

A tripod can also literally reduce the number of scenes one shoots in say, a 10-minute time frame. Steadying the camera, holding the camera's point of view steady, and allowing a shoot/review/re-shoot/review type of pattern can lead to better shots on many types of subjects.

I have shot a number of iPhone videos, where the tripod has been super useful to help me keep the camera steady, and to make the video more easy to watch...bouncing, jittery videos look bad.
Hi, I am trying to decide if I need to invest on a tripod for my iPhone. Why it is recommended to use a tripod when taking photos? I can imagine that it is ideal to use it when taking video as we don't want shaking. For static objects, if we don't like the photo, we could retake it. So, what is the point of using a tripod?

Its your time, and money and your personal goal to get the sharpest images you possibly can.
Most of the time your photos will show how prepared you where or how much effort you put in the shot.

Conditions or different styles of photography and technologies force us to do our photography in certain ways to get the best results.

Not all moments in time can be redone......... either you got the photo or you didn't but there is no second try.
Why is it useful to use a hammer? Or a crescent wrench? Or a paint brush? And the answer is: when each one is useful. They're just tools--nothing more. A tripod isn't a status symbol, a writ of passage, a requirement to be a photographer, or part of the secret list of photography laws that only certified and secrecy-sworn members have (along with their book of secrets and the index to Area 54).

Most of the time I don't use a tripod. But I use them almost all the time for interiors/real estate photography, for macro photography, for night and light painting photography and many landscapes (especially in the blue hour). And if I can't find a tripod, I look for a substitute (a rock to set the camera on, a bungee cord, a clamp, etc.).

Oh, and I guarantee that if you're trying to do a 5 second exposure that is sharp and not using a tripod, you can "re-do" all you want and it's still not going to be sharp. Specifically regarding a tripod for your iPhone....you can get some that are smaller than selfie sticks and more functional (b/c you can't use a selfie stick to take a 5 second exposure). Now, if you aren't going to learn how to manipulate your iPhone to take longer exposures or control the shutter speed then a tripod would probably not help you that much. You'll just have to recognize that there are some pictures that an iPhone can take that YOUR iPhone won't be taking b/c you don't have the necessary equipment and don't know how to manipulate the settings in order to do so. And for the vast majority of individuals, that's perfectly okay, they don't really care if a bunch of shots they thought were cool instead got missed.

It's just a tool. It's an incredibly useful, even essential tool in some situations. It's a waste in others. A smart photographer recognizes what those situations are and uses it appropriately.
This is probably the one time that I would say that a $100 tripod would do the job.
Tripod for an iPhone ?
will wonders never cease ...
"if you were to be jogging while taking a photo, for example, the same shot could well turn out blurred as you and the camera are moving 'far enough' in 1/200th second to cause a blur."

Here in Texas, it's against the law to use a tripod while jogging.


Photographers will use a tripod when they want the sharpest image possible. The stability provided by a tripod goes a long way toward this goal.

If you are using a camera with the smallest sensor possible (such as those used in a camera phone), the smallest deviation in steadying the camera will result in larger than average changes in the overall sharpness of the image.

And while you may not notice these less than sharp artifacts when they are displayed on your camera's LCD, if you intend to enlarge and print the images, then the problems existing within the image become enlarged and made more obvious along with the image itself.

Therefore, if all you intend for your photos is to be displayed through social media on other smartphones, then the advantages provided by a tripod will be nill. The limited resolution of a smartphone's LCD will work against showing the effort you have put into the image.

If, however, you intend to enlarge your shots to a printable size of, say, 8x10, then the enlarging process will also demonstrate the advantages of a tripod.

One issue with smartphone cameras is how the shooter operates the camera. If I were using a DSLR with a viewfinder, I would have the camera pressed up against my cheek which provides some degree of stabilization for the lens. My elbows would be in against my body to some degree which will further stabilize the lens. However, when using a camera phone which lacks a viewfinder, you need to assume your normal physical stance for taking a photo and then consider what is wrong with that approach.

When I see someone using their phone camera it is almost always with their arms extended away from their body, never close in with their elbows tucked against their sides as the DSLR shooter would. And never with the advantage of holding the camera against their cheek for added stability.

Obviously, the fewer the points of stability you provide the camera, the greater the chances the camera will shake during the image gathering process. The farther away from those points of stability you move the camera, the greater the chances the image will show some degree of movement.

Yet even the DSLR shooter can be thrown off their game a bit by an unsteady footing or a strong gust of wind. Even the most experienced DSLR shooter would likely defer to using a tripod in either situation.

Most smartphone users would probably simply proceed to take the shot no matter what.

Take the fact of when you might use a tripod and combine it with the very poor grip anyone using a smartphone has on their camera - often a one handed operation - and you have moved as far away from the ideals of a tripod mounted DSLR as possible.

It's a bit like holding a pool cue stick by your fingertips at the smallest end, at arms length and perpendicular to your body and expecting it to remain stable for any length of time.

While faster shutter speeds will tend to minimize the amount of camera shake exhibited in the image, there is nothing better than not allowing camera shake to exist at all. That should be obvious.

As lighting conditions move away from the midday sun ideal and towards less light or less desirable light, the shutter speeds lengthen which provides more and more opportunity for camera shake to affect the image. Even in bright midday sun, if you are shooting into the shadows, it is the shadows which are setting the camera's shutter speeds.

Certainly, given the tremendous differences between indoor and outdoor photography, any photo taken indoors will require much longer shutter speeds which increase the chances of camera shake becoming an issue.

As you can hopefully see, the issue is not with static objects remaining static. It is with the camera not being immovable during the process of gathering the data required to form the digital image. The assumed correct posture for taking a shot with a phone camera goes against all rules intended to provide the stability needed to take the sharpest image possible.

There are though, two arguments against using a tripod with a smartphone camera. The first is what I have mentioned previously, only shooting for display on small, low resolution screens. If your final product will never be displayed on any media which is capable of demonstrating the actual differences between sharp and un-sharp images, then put your money to use elsewhere.

In other words, know your intent before you take the photo. That's fairly good advice for any photographer.

Secondly, setting up a tripod does take some time. While most photographers can benefit from physically interrupting the shoot, shoot, shoot without thought process of taking shapshots, the time involved in setting up a tripod can be an interference in some cases. As mentioned, why would you jog with a tripod? There are certainly better choices of defensive weapons available if it comes to that.

A tripod is simply another tool for the photographer to use. The photographer must decide when it is best put into service and when it is too cumbersome to deal with when shooting in good available light.

The reason photographers use a tripod is simple, they improve your photography.

And, if a tripod is too cumbersome for some situations, guess what? That's why some smart individual took away two of the legs and created a monopod.
Thanks all for the opinion. I plan to use the photos for publications and promotion of my inventions. Looks like I better get a tripod. Any recommended product for the iPhone 6s Plus?
Tripod for an iPhone ?
will wonders never cease ...

And Schneider make a series of aux lenses for smartphones. I saw on their website.
Thanks all for the opinion. I plan to use the photos for publications and promotion of my inventions. Looks like I better get a tripod. Any recommended product for the iPhone 6s Plus?

Given the weight of the iPhone, most tripods should do the job. Select one based on use. If you are going hiking, not jogging, never jogging, weight may be of importance.

If you are interested in photographing small, low to the ground objects, pick a tripod that adjusts to that height. Should your interest take you to locations where a strong wind might disrupt your shot, make sure you can add some extra heft to the tripod.
I'd get dedicated camera as well as a tripod if you plan to use it for photos for publications and promotion of your inventions.
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