Stabilisation, Tripods and Monopods

Image of two tripods

Tripods, Monopods and other Stabilisation Devices help to prevent camera shake and blurred images.

When handholding a camera, the Reciprocal Rule applies: The shutter speed should be no less than the focal length of the lens to prevent camera shake, for example for a 50mm lens the minimum shutter speed should be 1/50 second.

If we want to use shutter speeds lower than this the ideal solution is to use a tripod, monopod or other stabilisation device.

Some cameras have In Camera Image Stabilisation (ICIS), however it can only do so much.

Tripods are also useful for long exposure and specialist photography such as night, astrophotography and capturing selective movement in a subject.

The best tripod is something solid, it needs to remain stable in wind and on different terrains without being so heavy that you don’t want to carry it anywhere. Ideally you want a tripod that can reach around eye level without using the centre column (using the centre column causes instability and potentially camera shake).

Tripods can cost thousands of pounds, however, the Manfrotto 055, 160 or 190 tripods are good solid tripods that are relatively lightweight, cost around £150 new but can be purchased from websites such as MPB.com often much cheaper. The 055 is the smaller of the tripods and good for most cameras, but will need some extra weight, such as a camera bag hanging from it, to give it more weight and stability.

The same tripods can be bought in carbon fibre which reduces the weight but significantly increases the cost. Be aware that tripods are often sold in two parts, legs and heads, so you need to account for the cost of both. A good tripod will last you a lifetime, so it is a worthwhile investment from the start.