Tripod Basics: When do you need it?

Since I started blogging a few months back, I got interested in posting more awesome travel photos of my travel destination. I’m not too sure if anyone will appreciate my photos nor  I am aiming to get noticed by NatGeo team (wouldn’t hurt though!). But in the course of learning photography basics,  I realized that I needed to invest in 3 things to take amazing travel photos.

  1. A good camera
  2. A good lens. Would be great if you can afford to buy a lens that combines a wide-angle and telephoto in one
  3. A tripod.

If you just bought a tripod and not sure when you should and can use it, here are some of the cases when to use and when not use a tripod.

Related Post: Recommended Travel Cameras for Beginners

You don’t need it when…

There’s a tripod police. Some places like museums and observation decks prohibit the use of tripods. Here in Singapore, tripods are not allowed when going up the Marina Bay Sands Skypark observation deck. So before heading to a location, make sure to check first if tripods are allowed to be used.

When shooting in small places and crowded places. You don’t want people tripping over your tripod stand every now and then. So when shooting for concert or street parade, tripods are really not a good thing to be lugging around.

Tripods are not really necessary for all types of photography especially for high ISO and shutter speeds.

You need it when…

You need stability for taking photos. Especially if you are planning to take landscape photos where you will most likely use slow shutterspeed. You will also need a tripod that can really go down low when doing macros. Most tripods can be setup really low almost to the ground for taking close up of floral images.

Tripods slows you down. Because you need to set it up, position it, and firmly stand it away from pedestrian traffic. This is actually more of an advantage because it gives you time to think and plan about the type of photography you want to do. You can contemplate of what your composition will be like.

When taking long exposures or double exposures for your camera tricks.

Video shooting for documentary or time lapses.

When planning to go hunting for the Aurora Borealis in the North Pole, you will definitely need to bring a tripod. My photo below was taken with a very slow shutter speed due to low light so a tripod and a universal camera remote is a must.

Taken at Abisko National Park in Abisko somewhere in northern Sweden.
Taken at Abisko National Park in Abisko somewhere in northern Sweden.


Last but not the least…

Invest in a good tripod that you can bring when you travel. It will be one of the best investments to make when starting out in travel photography for your travel website. Most of the tripods today are made of carbon fiber material so it is lighter and more compact and fit for travel backpacks.

Use your judgement when to pack your tripod. If you will be trailing or hiking the Zion National Park, then tripods will be too heavy to bring with you.

Check your travel destination if they rent out tripods. I recently was able to rent a tripod from the hostel I stayed with in Sweden. If they do, then it saves your backpack from weighing too much.

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  1. Pingback: Essential Tips for Starting Out Your Travel Photography - Just Travelling Solo

  2. Reply

    After working to keep my travel weight down as much as possible it’s hard to keep adding new equipment! I do need the stability of a tripod and may start using a monopod to ease into it!

  3. Reply

    Great list of pros and cons – we’ve been going back and forth recently on whether to buy one – we used to travel with a tripod but it was always so heavy and slowed us down a lot. Now we’re thinking we’ll invest in one again because we’re learning it’s pretty essential for the video timelapses 🙂

      • August 21, 2016

      Yes it is a must for low light like indoor/night photography and time lapses. Been practising my time lapses too and it is a nightmare, hahaha

  4. Reply

    What a timely post! I do a ton of photography, but have never had a tripod. Seeing how others use them so well, I’m realizing why I may need to get one!

      • August 21, 2016

      I invested in the one that is made for travel, the one made from carbon fibre material. A bit pricey than the ordinary ones but sure is worth it when you want to level up the ante in your travel photography. Happy travels.

  5. Reply

    I’m always leary of setting up big equipment – or packing around big equipment for that matter – when traveling – or when in small spaces with lots of other travelers. I carry around a very small, handheld tripod that I can use when I’m desperate. It works for desperate measures.

  6. Reply

    We travel with a small tripod that is easy to packup. Mostly use it for star scapes but need to get better. Love the photo of you in Sweden1

    • anna
    • August 22, 2016

    Good list of pros and cons- I personally don’t lug heavy equipment with me but it really depends on what type of photographer and traveler you are.

  7. Reply

    Really enjoyed this. So helpful, thanks for sharing. Happy travels 🙂

  8. Reply

    Great breakdown on when you need a tripod and when you don’t. Investing in a tripod that is light and can travel easy is a great idea. We always bring a tripod with because we focus so much on photos and video, but we have one that can fit easily in our carryons and attach to a backpack effortlessly!

  9. Hmmm, all good points! They certainly can slow you down.

  10. Reply

    I’ve been thinking a lot about getting one myself. Especially since I’ve been doing much more solo travel and would love to still be in some non-selfie shots.

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