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04-30-2012, 05:09 PM   #1
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Will a tripod make much difference?

A lot of the pictures that I take are of my kids or birds and wildlife in my yard. The rest are took at the zoo and the occassional hiking trail. Is a tripod going to make much of a difference in the sharpness of my pictures? I think that I need to work on the sharpness, amongst other things, of my pictures.

04-30-2012, 05:14 PM   #2
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If slow shutter speed is what's causing the issues, then yes. Can you post some samples (with EXIF intact)?

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04-30-2012, 05:25 PM   #3
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In daylight you should not need a tripod. If you are chasing a kid around the last thing you want is a camera with three legs. A monopod is a bit more user-friendly perhaps, and helps steady longer and heavier lenses. I'd work on your shutter-release technique first.
04-30-2012, 05:27 PM   #4
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As mentioned by Adam, a tripod may help if you shoot in low light. and need slow shutter speed.

In any case, you may consider alos the monopod (Monopods - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database) instead of the tripod. It is more flexible.

Hope that the comment may help.

04-30-2012, 05:52 PM   #5
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You mention pics at the zoo. What lens are you using?
I personally use my 300mm lens a lot at the zoo, and i find a tripod helps a lot. I like to be able to see the lions individual hairs So, I keep my ISO at the bare minimum, and shoot with apertures at f5.6 and smaller. If its an overcast day with those parameters, a tripod definitely comes into play. You can probably get away with a monopod in most cases.

If you are shooting things like the monkeys flying around the cage...or your kids running around the backyard (same thing, right?) then a tripod won't help much. Just got to bite the bullet and raise your shutter speed and live with the higher ISO ans noise.
04-30-2012, 06:09 PM   #6
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As mentioned, a tripod will slow you down. But some kind of support -- tripod, monopod, beanbag on top of something stable -- can indeed help you minimize camera movement and hence maximize sharpness. Flash is another way to accomplish this; the duration of the flash is so short that moderate camera shake or subject motion becomes unnoticeable. I'm a big fan of tripods but lately I'm relying more on flash and shooting handheld.

A monopod is a good choice for a trip to the zoo (if you're shooting with a long lens). For wildlife near the house, a tripod can be very useful. Hiking trail -- useful if you don't mind carrying the tripod, and if the people you're hiking with are patient about the extra time you'll take to set up shots. Or, again, the monopod -- a bit quicker, and easier to carry.

The old rule of thumb is that camera shake becomes a problem whenever the shutter speed as displayed (i.e., inverted) is less than the focal length of the lens, in millimeters. E.g., with a 200mm lens you want to keep shutter speeds at or faster than 200 (1/200 sec). Shake reduction generally allows you to extend this by a factor of at least 2, e.g. you can safely shoot at 1/100 sec. with a 200mm lens. With fast-moving kids or wildlife you'll want a faster shutter speed anyway.

SpecialK's suggestion to practice shutter-release technique is also good. Indeed, the larger subject of learning how to maximize your own stability when shooting handheld is well worth some study and practice.

Finally, sharpness isn't everything. As long as you are getting enough sharpness for your shots at whatever size you print them or share them online, you're getting enough sharpness.
04-30-2012, 06:12 PM   #7
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Three Legs Or Two?

Hello Mom2mny,
Unsharp photos can be caused by a few different factors, but the main ones are;
1) Camera Shake. The general rule is to use a shutter speed (roughly) as fast as the focal length of the lens; 1/60s for a 50mm, 1/125 for a 100mm-135mm, etc. Usually, the longer and heavier the lens, the harder it is to hold it perfectly still during the exposure. With practice, you might reduce the times slightly, and Shake Reduction (Stabilizatiom) may bring it down somewhat more. Good camera-holding technique and breath control helps, but I'd say below 1/30 or perhaps 1/15 second (with a normal short prime lens) you will see shake. This is a slight overall fuzziness, everything has a faint "edge" or aura.
2) Improper focus. Different camera bodies (and their auto-focus sensors) interact differently with some A/F and manual focus lenses, because the focus indicator may be slightly off. There are lens corrections built into many newer cameras for just this reason. Out-of-focus photos will "appear" to be similiar to camera shake, but there are differences. Not everything will have a blurred edge, just objects a certain distance from the camera. Other objects will be sharp, usually not the ones you want!
Try stabilizing the camera on a fixed object like a table and take a few photos; See if they're still not sharp. I'd suggest posting the results here, maybe we can help.
Good Luck!
04-30-2012, 06:20 PM   #8
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Tripods are an essential tool in some situations, useful in some and a downright nuisance in others. They have an upside in stability and sharpness and a downside in portability and flexibility. If you do use one however, get a good one, use a remote control or cable and be sure to turn of your in-camera shake reduction.

04-30-2012, 06:22 PM   #9
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Only use a tripod for the shots you really want. Hand shake is unpredictable, if they don't matter , don't use a tripod. I take lots of shots taken hand held for various reasons, like I didn't have time to set up, I left the tripod home, whatever. But I'd never say hand holding and depending on SR is a preferred MO. When you get the opportunity for a great shot that's when you're most likely to get excited and develop an unsteady hand. You have the most chance of ruining the best shots. It could make a difference, why chance it?

If you want to shoot hand held, you really need to be looking at shorter focal lengths and smaller sensors. A Q or a point and shoot will fit the bill, although it looks like the 4/3 guys get some pretty good results hand held as well. Just my two cents worth. When I shoot hand held with APS-c, I tend to shoot 3 or 4 frames, one of them will likely be good.
04-30-2012, 06:37 PM   #10
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I have a lovely collection of pristine tripods. My 6 month old 500mm still hasn't managed to get onto one after about least 5,000 pics. I take a tripod away with me and never gets used. I find even a monopod is so fiddley by the time it is set up the bird has got away. I often use a flash to stop the action. When not using a flash I use the motor drive.

I am sure everyone else is right a tripod works well.
04-30-2012, 06:38 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mom2mny Quote
A lot of the pictures that I take are of my kids or birds and wildlife in my yard. The rest are took at the zoo and the occassional hiking trail. Is a tripod going to make much of a difference in the sharpness of my pictures? I think that I need to work on the sharpness, amongst other things, of my pictures.
You'll likely get better results by working on your technique than using a tripod for shots such as the ones you're talking about. Granted, a tripod or monopod certainlu has its uses, though for the most part, a fast lens and good technique will be your first line of defense against blurry images.

PS. there is a solution that few people talk about but is highly effective in stabilizing shots without the fuss of a mono or tripod:

Hope this helps,
04-30-2012, 06:53 PM - 1 Like   #12
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There's a very good detailed instruction manual from Heie on how to shoot photos by hand from various positions here:
Making the Most of Long Exposure Handhelds - Introduction - that you might find useful.

Best wishes,
04-30-2012, 07:51 PM   #13
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If just shooting the kids and that sort of subject, then maybe consider increasing your base ISO speed to suit.
I don't use iso 100 unless it's really sunny or I'm using a tripod. I often use ISO 400 as that was the film speed I used to buy.
That will increase your shutter speed for the given aperture, so a better chance of a sharp photo. A bit of noise is normally better than a lot of (unwanted) blur. For birds, just start at ISO 800 unless you have a very fast lens.
04-30-2012, 09:16 PM   #14
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Tripods have a lot of uses:

a. If you think your blurry shots are from a defective lens, put the lens/cam. on the tripod and find out.
b. If you're taking a group photo - ideal to get everyone in a pic and click on the self-timer
c. You can take low light shots without using high isos and getting into the noise spectrum.
d. helps to take landscape pictures which are carefully composed.

SR, OS, VR systems have their uses, but a tripod also has its uses. Even a stablislation system won't enable one to take a picture over 30s of exposure or even for 20 minutes or more.
05-01-2012, 04:50 PM   #15
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If you are using longish lenses, a tripod will most certainly improve things. The old adage about base shutter speed of 1/focal length holds true today, just as it did when we shot film. I think with our smaller than 35mm DSLRs, it's more like 1/(focal lengthx1.6). Shake reduction helps a bit. People forget that the shortest "shutter speed" is the camera'a sync speed. The exposure time itself may be shorter, but every exposure takes the sync speed or longer to make.

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