Who needs a tripod?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Scott Merryfield, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Well, we all do, but sometimes we just do not have one with us. A couple of weeks ago, the family went on a week-long trip to Mackinac Island and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and I did not take along my tripod in order to travel lighter. Here are a couple of shots that I think turned out well despite my lack of camera support:

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    Also, here are a couple of "wildlife" shots:

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    You can see the entire set of photos at http://smerryfield.smugmug.com/Vacation/Mackinac-Island-2009/9459586_73ccZ#634646637_oWSNK
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Here is one more lower light shot:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Cool stuff! What kinds of ISOs are you shooting at? Steady hands and breathing techniques are important tools, as are steadying your body or camera with whatever is available when a tripod is not.

    But.... Try doing low light Macro without your tripod tho =)
     
  4. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I had the lens wide open at f/2.8 and an ISO of 3200, and still was only getting shutter speeds of 1/15s or 1/20s for the night time shots. The one at twilight in the second post was f/4.5, ISO 800 and 1/6s. Having an image stabilized lens helped, as well as proper hand holding technique (as you mentioned). It wasn't ideal, but it was the only way to get the shot without a tripod.

    I did use my dad's el cheapo tripod for the hummingbird shots just so I could leave the camera in position by the feeder at their house waiting for the birds to come in. However, that tripod did not provide solid support -- just a method to keep the camera in position without scaring the birds away.

    As you said, I would never want to try serious low light macro work without a tripod. I've taken a few wild flower shots when we have been hiking during day time without one, and it's incredibly difficult to get a good close-up shot even then in good light.
     
  5. HienN

    HienN Stunt Coordinator

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    Beautiful pictures. I especially like the night shots. I usually travel with just a compact camera, and would often miss chances like this, or have to live with grainy pictures. Even without a tripod, I am sure I can do a better job holding the camera steady, but haven't learned the proper technique - I see Ken Rockwell sometimes brag that he can hold for a full second.

    A few months ago, I got myself a Gorillapod, and really love it. It's small and light, and is flexible enough for many situations, not just for low light but also difficult angle shots. I also have a cheapo standard tripod that I bought in Taipei for under $10, but I find myself using the Gorillapod more and more.

    One question about SmugMug. I am running out of free space on Google Photo, and like the look of the SmugMug site you are using. I noticed that it's a paying site though. Would you recommend it?
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I like the flexibility of Smug mug for site setup, as well as the unlimited storage. You can also sell photos through them, if you are interested in that (I am currently not).

    The only thing that annoys me is that they limit individual file sizes to 12MB each. While the vast majority of my JPEG files are smaller than that after converting from RAW, some high ISO shots can exceed that size limit. For example, the low light shots here started out at around 14MB each when I converted from RAW to JPEG at the highest quality setting in Canon's DPP processing software, so I had to turn the quality down a couple of notches. It's not noticeable for web viewing, but I am also using this as an off site backup, too, so I would prefer to store them at the highest quality setting. The professional subscription option (at a higher annual cost) may increase the file size limit -- I have not checked.

    Smug mug also offers a vaulting service for all file types that I would like to use for storing the original RAW files, but their price per GB is a little high right now. So, for now I am doing my own backups of the RAW files on DVD-R.
     
  7. HienN

    HienN Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks. I may have to look into that. I'm using Google Photo strictly as a photo sharing site, but file sizes are very limited. I mostly keep things on the original SD cards and on my PC, but I need a better way to back up.
     
  8. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Smug Pro does allow nearly unlimited photo sizes (and huuuuuge video too)

    But....

    I found I like Vimeo much better than Smug for video and Flickr's community outweighs Smug's technical prowess for me. YMMV

    I used to go crazy putting full size images up on Flickr but I found few people actually cared for em. Now I resize everything to 2k max a side and call it a day, and keep my full rez images for prints only.

    Sam
     
  9. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    I used to hate lugging a tripod anywhere too -- and well, I still don't really like it.


    _Man_
     
  10. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    The online archiving became more of a concern for me after I lost some photos due to a PC crash (I hadn't gotten around to backing up those photos to DVD-R yet). Bandwidth has not been an issue -- I just start the upload process and walk away to do something else. RAW file backup would take longer, but I can always let those run over night. I have no desire to try and sell any photos, so I use the site strictly for archiving and sharing.

    One nice thing about Smugmug is that you can also create private archives, or block individual photos in a public gallery from public viewing. You can even password protect galleries. I upload all our family photos there, but I do not want to make those available for public viewing. For our niece's wedding, I locked the gallery with a password and let her give it to people she wanted to share the photos with.

    I agree with wanting to use a tripod more, Man. I also prefer the results I get when using one. For this trip, though, my parents were traveling with us and my dad needed a wheel chair due to recent knee surgery. So, between dealing with his wheel chair, his walker, our bicycles (Mackinac Island does not allow motor vehicles), and our luggage, I tried to pack as light as I could. Our poor Saturn Vue was packed full.
     
  11. Bill Buklis

    Bill Buklis Supporting Actor
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    As an alternative for backup storage you could simply register for a web hosting site that has unlimited storage and file transfer (bluehost.com is one example, I'm sure there are others). Unless you create your own web pages, you won't have quick online access to view them via a browser, but then you might not need that with smaller uploads to the other photo sites. The cost should be less than $10 a month for that.
     
  12. HienN

    HienN Stunt Coordinator

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    For back-up, I recently got a portable hard drive (a Seagate FreeAgent Go for me, but there are many other brands). 320 GB for around $70. It's quick and convenient for storage, but it cannot replace a photo-sharing site.
     
  13. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I have a couple of external hard drives, too, and they are great for storing photos, music, etc. As you said, though, they still do not replace an off site photo sharing site.
     
  14. Buzz Foster

    Buzz Foster Second Unit

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    I just lugged my S3 IS on a tripod through the entire Carlsbad Caverns. I was doing very long exposures, up to 15 seconds, and getting some amazing results.

    Sadly, I discovered a ton of problems with my tripod, which I had not used in years. It worked well enough on the trip, but a Coke exploded on it in the trunk, which might have been a commentary from the universe on the outlived usefulness of it. I pitched it, and am in the market for a new one.

    [​IMG]
    Here is the entrance to the "Big Room". 8 second exposure, f2.8, ISO 80.
     
  15. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I use a Bogen 3021 pro but I think those have been replaced.... For the S3 you probably want something quite a bit lighter I'm guessing....
     
  16. Buzz Foster

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    Hey, Sam. Yeah, the "lugging" had more to do with the fact that the clamps on the two of the leg middle sections were broken, so I could only extend the lower sections. I kept it extended on the full hike because it was VERY crowded, and I had to take photo opportunities quickly. Some of those passages are a bit like doing the limbo, so it was interesting to do it with an extended tripod.

    I'll probably use the new tripod for stills and video (Canon Vixia HG20).
     
  17. Don Solosan

    Don Solosan Supporting Actor

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    Buzz, make sure you get a fluid head if you're going to be shooting video. I sold off my SD video camera and tripod, thinking I was getting away from video to work exclusively in stills. So I bought a small tripod for my digital camera, then I got a new still camera that happens to take beautiful full HD video... and now I'm finding it difficult to get smooth moves from that non-fluid head tripod. So be prepared!
     
  18. Buzz Foster

    Buzz Foster Second Unit

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  19. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    'pro' and under $100 do not go together. If you are going to get one, get a good one. Bogen is a good moderate quality brand in this space and you can easily spend a couple hundred bucks on a quality head. Prices go UP from there...
     
  20. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I own a Flashpoint carbon fiber tripod, which is the house brand at Adorama, coupled with a Giottos ball head. The Flashpoint is a nice balance between quality and cost, offering a very stable platform, easy extension of the legs, and the light weight benefits of carbon fiber. The legs were less than $200, and you can add whichever head suits your needs .The Giottos ball head was a little over $100, and works well for my still shot needs (I am not currently shooting any video). For video, though, you will want some sort of panning head, as others have recommended.
     

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