Choosing the right tripod


Camera support equipment is constantly changing as technological advances influence what can be created in the viewfinder. New generations of ultra compact cameras are enabling the camera operator to explore and get into the action as never before and longer lenses allow close-up views previously unobtainable. But with so much choice, how do you select the most appropriate camera support equipment for your particular needs?
Specifically here, we look at that most fundamental of items – the tripod.
Back to basics
Tripodsare the most basic form of camera support and have been in use since photography began. When choosing a tripod, there are some key aspects to consider:
the weight and size of the camera
where it’s likely to be used
speed of repositioning
types of shots likely to be needed.
Once you have addressed these points, decide whether you need:
a standard tripod
a lightweight, medium or heavy duty tripod
accessories
Standard Tripods
Tripods are available in a variety of carrying capacities, and construction materials now include plastic, carbon fibre, aluminium, and wood. There are various configurations - single stage—one adjustable leg; two stage—two adjustable legs, or the versatile multistage telescopic models. All come with various accessories.
Many have different interfaces for attaching the pan and tilt head. This is usually a concave bowl at the top of the tripod with a 75 mm, 100mm, or 150 mm diameter, although other head interfaces are used for heavy-duty applications. There is a good choice of high quality products available on the market, offering features aimed at the professional camera operator, but there are many more “low end” tripods available, apparently offering similar functionality at a fraction of the cost of the professional models.
However, few of these can deliver the performance needed for good camerawork, so when choosing a tripod, remember purchase cost is only part of the decision.
Low-cost kit may save money, but it could be at the cost of creativity due to physical limitations of the device. This ultimately can add more cost and time in the edit process to correct shooting deficiencies.
Other important tripod characteristics to consider include:
Lightweight yet robust enough to take the knocks of the professional broadcast world
Good torsional rigidity to resist the twist put into the tripod due to drag forces when panning. If not, this twist known as spring back or wind up, may be seen in the viewfinder when the pan bar is released (the picture typically springs back slightly).
The legs should not deform or clamps slip when the tripod is loaded with the pan and tilt head and the camera. The tripod should also be rigid enough to resist wind movement.
Simple, reliable leg locks that are easily maintained for optimum holding reliability. All fittings and clamps should be usable wearing gloves.
Multistage legs (single stage, two stage, or multistage) that allow extremely low (40 cm) and high (197 cm) shooting angles.
Availability of baby legs for extremely low-angle shots (22cm), also able to accommodate standard pan and tilt heads.
Robust stabilising devices such as the ground or floor spreader (for hard, level surfaces) and mid level spreader (for uneven surfaces) that brace the legs on a
variety of terrains.
Spiked feet to push the feet into a soft surface such as grass, when a spreader is unavailable or unsuitable, or flat plastic/ rubber feet that can prevent slipping and damage to hard surfaces.
Tripod legs should have enough clearance for the leg tubes to move freely during setup and breakdown. However, clearance must not be so great that there is a “dead spot,” known as backlash, which is noticeable when the direction of the camera pan movement is changed.

Lightweight Tripods
Lightweight or ENG professional tripods usually have either a 75 mm or 100 mm pan and tilt head interface. This fundamental feature allows the pan and tilt head to be leveled accurately and locked off securely. The 75 mm tripods are mostly used for small-bodied DV or HDV camcorders and are popular for event videography.
They are also popular with camera operators and journalists working mainly on foot in the documentary field where portability is more important than stability and robustness.
The 100 mm tripods are designed for fully featured ENG cameras and are the preferred choice of many news professionals. Ease of use and maintenance are critical, especially as the nature of their work often means these camera operators are in difficult circumstances with very little time to react to surrounding events. These tripods must be reliable, simple to fix or adjust using only the most basic tools.
Medium-Weight Tripods
Medium-weight or EFP tripods usually have a 150 mm pan and tilt head interface, suitable for much larger camera configurations. Although still relatively lightweight, this tripod uses larger leg tubes with much more rigidity than an ENG tripod.
Although speed and ease of setup are important, more emphasis is placed on stability and robustness. Typical configurations may be a 16 mm film camera, an ENG or other portable style camera body with a large lens, viewfinder, matte box, and pan bar controls for zoom and focus.
A teleprompter may be used occasionally. EFP tripods are frequently used in sports applications on the pitch and are used in some television studios for fixed camera applications.
Heavy-Duty Tripods
Heavy-duty tripods have very substantial construction and use either a standard four-bolt fitting, Mitchell screw, or other proprietary quick-release system to attach the pan and tilt head. Typically, these tripods are used to support full-facility camera systems with a studio camera with a box lens, viewfinder, pan bar controls, and possibly a teleprompter and would be used either in the studio or on outside broadcast where absolute stability (with long focal length zoom lens) is crucial.
Tripod accessories
A wide range of tripod accessories available, but key products include simple dollies or skids with swivel castors giving the tripod and camera easy movement across a smooth surface. Many tripods can be fitted with a simple pneumatic or crank operated elevation unit for extended height changes and as mentioned previously, a suitable spreader is essential to ensure stability.
The right choice
No matter how good your camera or lens is, if your tripod is inadequate or unstable, camera movement may be poor and the camera operator will be distracted from the primary objective of composing the picture.
Tripods must be robust, reliable, easy to maintain, simple to set up and adjust. They must provide a stable platform for smooth, controllable and quiet on-air movement. Without doubt, the right tripod will help the person behind the camera exploit emerging technologies while maintaining the best creative production values.
For further information on Vinten tripods, go to www.vinten.com

Tags: vinten | camera support | tripod | iss024 | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Vinten at NAB 2012

    Vinten at NAB 2012

  • Vinten at IBC 2012

    Vinten at IBC 2012

  • Vinten Radamec at IBC 2012

    Vinten Radamec at IBC 2012

  • Vinten Radamec at NAB 2012

    Vinten Radamec at NAB 2012

  • KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

    KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

  • KitPlus filming rig used at BVE 2017

    KitPlus filming rig used at BVE 2017

  • Miller Camera Support at IBC 2016

    Miller Camera Support at IBC 2016

  • Cineline Fluid Head from Miller Camera Support at NAB 2014

    Cineline Fluid Head from Miller Camera Support at NAB 2014

  • Hague Camera Supports at ProVideo2011

    Hague Camera Supports at ProVideo2011

  • Miller Cineline tripods at IBC 2015

    Miller Cineline tripods at IBC 2015

  • Miller Compass tripods at IBC 2015

    Miller Compass tripods at IBC 2015

  • Air Alloy Tripod System from Miller Fluid Heads at IBC 2014

    Air Alloy Tripod System from Miller Fluid Heads at IBC 2014

  • Skyline 90 from Miller at NAB 2017

    Skyline 90 from Miller at NAB 2017

  • CueScript EMC prompter and control surface at IBC 2014

    CueScript EMC prompter and control surface at IBC 2014

  • Camdec at BVE 2014

    Camdec at BVE 2014

  • Compass X Heads from Miller Tripods at NAB 2018

    Compass X Heads from Miller Tripods at NAB 2018

  • Miller Compass X Series of Tripod Heads shown at IBC 2017

    Miller Compass X Series of Tripod Heads shown at IBC 2017

  • SISLIVE Manpak tripod antennas at NAB 2015

    SISLIVE Manpak tripod antennas at NAB 2015

  • MILLER Cineline 70 Tripod System at NAB 2015

    MILLER Cineline 70 Tripod System at NAB 2015

  • Sachtler Tripods at BVE 2015

    Sachtler Tripods at BVE 2015

  • Combo Live 55 Pedestal from Miller at NAB 2017

    Combo Live 55 Pedestal from Miller at NAB 2017

  • Virtual and Augmented Reality support with the Arrow Fx7 from Miller at NAB 2017

    Virtual and Augmented Reality support with the Arrow Fx7 from Miller at NAB 2017

  • Miller Arrow X Series at NAB 2016

    Miller Arrow X Series at NAB 2016

  • Libec ALLEX slider system at NAB 2014

    Libec ALLEX slider system at NAB 2014

  • Ianiro on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

    Ianiro on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

  • Ianiro at BVE 2013

    Ianiro at BVE 2013

  • Polecam at NAB 2012

    Polecam at NAB 2012

  • Sachtler at BVE 2012

    Sachtler at BVE 2012

  • Ianiro at BVE North 2011

    Ianiro at BVE North 2011

  • Sachtler at IBC2011

    Sachtler at IBC2011

  • Tiffen at IBC2011

    Tiffen at IBC2011


Related Shows
  • LIVE from BVE North Day 1

    LIVE from BVE North Day 1


Articles
Make Time for Remapping
Alex Macleod For my 4th Kitplus article I thought I’d highlight an effect in Premiere Pro that frankly I would be lost without. Namely - time remapping.
Tags: iss138 | premiere pro | post production | editing | speed remapping | remapping | mediacity training | Alex Macleod
Contributing Author Alex Macleod Click to read or download PDF
The Evolution of Audio Monitoring
Stephen Brownsill Every user, production, environment, operation and application is different, meaning that universal tools simply cannot provide the versatility required by today’s customers. Audio monitoring continues to evolve as productions advance, with the need for multi-channel monitoring, configurable metering as well as the ability to adhere to the latest loudness guidelines remaining at the top of the must-have list.
Tags: iss138 | tsl products | st-2110 | lip synce | ip | ptp stauts | amwa | nmos | Stephen Brownsill
Contributing Author Stephen Brownsill Click to read or download PDF
How the Womens World Cup was Boosted by Broadcast
John Griffiths As we write this article, England’s Lionesses have just beaten Norway 3-0 and are smashing viewing figure records, with 6.9 million viewers tuning in to watch them play Cameroon on BBC One. Rewind to the previous World Cup in 2015, and England’s group and early stage knockout games tempted up to 2.5 million viewers for each match. It’s safe to say that women’s football is finally having its moment; what was perhaps once considered a niche sport is finally gaining momentum in the mainstream space with broadcasters giving it the attention it deserves.
Tags: iss138 | wwc | world cup | spicymango | diversity | John Griffiths
Contributing Author John Griffiths Click to read or download PDF
How LiveU Has Changed The Way We Work At ITV Daytime
Tim Guilder As my job title suggests, I’m responsible for planning and executing technology projects across ITV’s Daytime, including outside broadcasts, which are central to what we do. We broadcast live for more than six hours every weekday with four shows: Good Morning Britain, This Morning, Lorraine and Loose Women. With a history as one of the main UK terrestrial broadcasters – of course, we have also evolved alongside the industry in terms of viewing options – we have high standards. We constantly generate new ideas to keep audiences engaged and we also need to be responsive to the latest breaking news.
Tags: iss138 | liveu | itv | daytime | cobham | explorer 8100 | satellite | lu600 hevc | ka-band | lu300 | garland | Tim Guilder
Contributing Author Tim Guilder Click to read or download PDF
Industry Ready Broadcasting Students
KitPlus Cardiff Metropolitan University traces its roots back to 1865, when they opened their first school in an old library. Now Cardiff Met is a global, practice-focused and professionally oriented institution, committed to ensure every student fulfills their potential to make outstanding contributions in their future industries.
Tags: iss138 | newtek | live production | cardiff metropolitain | sports broadcasting | tricaster | cardiff devils | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF