Do you still need a tripod? Discuss....
The tripod used to be an essential part of any photographer’s kit. Professionals carried them as a matter of routine, and they were considered essential for many tasks, particularly fine portraiture, landscape and close-focus work. But times change.
Last week I reported on Panasonic’s latest long-reach prime, the 200mm Leica DG f/2.8 This lens has stabilisation which works in concert with systems in Panasonic cameras such as the GX8, GH5 and G9, to give a remarkable 6.5-stop advantage over non-stabilised equipment. That’s at an equivalent of 400mm (or 560mm using the supplied 1.4x converter). While I haven’t yet tried it (Dear Mr.P, put me on the list for a review copy, please), Panasonic claim this lens can capture wildlife and sports shots without the need for a tripod.
Constantly improving image quality, higher ISO performance (and thus much better results at 3200 and 6400 from most modern cameras), not to mention stabilisation, all mean that cameras can be hand held for almost all general work.
I have never been a tripod man. I prefer to travel light and tend to use shutter speed to help prevent shake. But I admit I’m unusual and some readers, in particular Dunk Sargent who recently helped me with the test of the Leica TL2, might disagree. In his remarkable three-mile church shot was taken using an 800mm Apo-Telyt S lens with 1.4x adaptor.
He needed two tripods for that lot. This is specialised work and, without a doubt, it’s useful to have a tripod or two around the house. Dunk told me jokingly at last week’s Leica Mayfair event that he had fifty of them. An exaggeration, but he’s definitely a tripod man. Dunk does a lot of close focus work and for that he finds the tripod absolutely essential. But for everyday photography he agrees that modern technology has made tripod-less photography possible in most normal circumstances.
Judging by the vast variety on the market (some at eye-watering prices) and the amount of floor space devoted to them, there is still a healthy appetite for our three-legged friends. But do you believe a tripod is an essential accessory these days? Let's discuss the pros and cons.