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All About Flexible Camera Tripods and How to Choose the Right One

As the popular saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Ever since the very first (almost) successful photograph was taken back in 1816, cameras and photography have grown increasingly popular as time passes. Now, we have whole museums, galleries, and showings dedicated to the art of photography, and plenty of people are even pursuing degrees and extensive, permanent careers in the field. Anyone with an eye for piecing together attractive visuals could potentially pick up a camera and capture tellings of beautiful stories.

From a Sony to a Nikon, Canon, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, or even a GoPro, there are plenty of options available on the market for cameras able to take high-quality, stunning photographs when in the hands of a talented photographer. However, even the best or most expensive of cameras couldn’t overcome photography’s worst enemy: the shake. The shake is what happens when you hold your camera in unsteady hands or set it on a surface that isn’t stable. This is why every good camera – even the best of them – needs a partner in crime, which is where the flexible camera tripod comes in.

Benefits of Using a Tripod

A tripod is the added tool of perfection that every photographer needs to help capture an image in all of its glory. Without a stable tripod, the photograph is likely to come out blurry, unstable, or not completely leveled. The flexible camera tripod is a three-legged device with an adjustable central column and exchangeable heads to hold the camera depending on whether you are shooting photographs or videos.

Using a tripod brings many benefits to a photographer, some of which may be surprising to someone who has never used one before or who is new to photography. Obviously, tripods prevent blurry or unstable photographs, which is very important, especially to professional photographers. However, they also improve macro shots and allow long exposure photographs to be taken in conditions of low light.

Another benefit of using a tripod can be experienced when taking photographs outside, especially while during rainy or windy weather conditions. Tripods can also help relieve photographers from feeling significant physical strain due to holding heavy cameras with long, obtrusive lenses. These devices are clearly very beneficial to hobbyists and professionals alike; although, it would be especially silly for a professional photographer to forgo the use of a tripod during sessions – unless they prefer selling blurry pictures, of course.

The Composition of a Tripod

Tripods are usually made from one of three different materials: aluminum, carbon fiber, or basalt fiber. Of the three materials, aluminum is typically used in tripods designed for beginners or low-budget photographers to the inexpensive cost while still being incredibly sturdy. However, if a photographer is looking for an optimally portable tripod, a newer one made from carbon fiber would be a better choice. Although they are typically more expensive than tripods made from other materials, carbon fiber tripods are lighter and easier to handle in difficult weather conditions. Basalt fiber, on the other hand, has been often criticized for its unreliability and low durability qualities.

Typically, camera tripods will weigh anywhere between 2.2 pounds and 6.6 pounds, depending on the model and chosen material. Weight should be an important factor to take into account for photographers who plan on traveling frequently, as many flights may have an excess baggage weight allowance in place. Otherwise, it should also be kept in mind that heavier tripods may be more difficult to carry over long distances. With that said, heavier tripods typically provide more stability and resistance to vibration or certain weather conditions.

Tripods usually feature three different height options to choose from: the closed length, minimum height, and maximum height. The closed length describes the length of the tripod when it is completely compacted to match the size of your carrying bag. The minimum height describes the lowest height of the tripod when all legs have been folded out; this height is often used when shooting at floor level or for macro photography. Finally, the maximum height describes the tallest height of the tripod when it has been extended to its fullest potential; using a tripod at its maximum height may introduce some instability due to the fully extended center column.

The head of the tripod is where your camera sits. Many tripods come with already integrated heads; although, these heads often introduce heavy limitations when it comes to customization and upgrading. Tripods like these are best for people who will only be using the device occasionally. Otherwise, it may be better to invest in a tripod that comes with a mounting screw to hook up external heads to so you can plan on upgrading your tripod or camera in the future.

There are two major categories of tripod heads: 3-way pan/tilt heads and ball heads. 3-way pan/tilt heads allow both vertical and horizontal orientation of your camera and are often used for landscape shots, macro photography, or videos. These heads are often very stable due to being equipped with either one or two handles for manual manipulation. Ball heads, on the other hand, allow the camera to be maneuvered on a 360 degree, panoramic rotation. These are often used by wildlife photographies for their wide scope allowance and provided freedom.

How to Choose the Right Tripod for You

There are several things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect tripod. First, a photographer should always consider the weight of his or her camera and possible future upgrades. Someone may want to spend less money on a lighter tripod that could be easier to handle, but this choice would end up being a waste of money if the photographer has a heavier camera that won’t be supported by the tripod.

Fluid Rotation Tripod Ball head
Fluid Rotation Tripod Ball head

Another feature to carefully consider if the tripod head, which is the part of the tripod that the camera attaches to. Typically, tripods are made to accept interchangeable heads; however, photographers should always be sure that the tripod head you purchase is made for your camera. Some heads are only made for particular cameras, so it may be the case that a specific camera is excluded by some. Photographers should also consider what type of photography will most often be taken, as 3-way pan/tilt heads and ball heads lend themselves better to different genres of photography. For example, wildlife or sports photographers may be better prepared with a ball head that allows 360 degrees, panoramic movement.

When all is said and done, it is possible that all of these features may not even apply to some photographers, specifically hobbyists or professionals who choose to use compact cameras! If a photographer does use a compact camera, they may be better off using a mini camera tripod. Mini tripods, like the popular Gorillapod tripod, can be attached to nearly anything and provide freedom of use and optimal stability for compact cameras. In the end, photographers must simply keep in mind their particular cameras, and then the right tripod will come with those specifications.

Awesome and Amazing LED Studio Lights!

We all know how helpful and energy efficient our world has become since we have changed over to LED lights. Well, now imagine how efficient our photography world can be with LED studio lights! For some, this is probably a pretty new concept to absorb. Let’s wrap our heads and minds around this again – LED lights for your photography studio!

Benefits:

Yep, this is something that is starting to really happen! There are many great benefits to having LED lights in the photography world. A big bonus is (of course) is a large amount of savings to the pocketbook! We all know that LED lights cost a bit more on the front-end of the purchase; however, we save TONS of money on the back-end of the purchase when it comes to our monthly electric bills.

LED lights stay cooler than traditional studio lights and use a fraction of the energy that traditional studio lights use. Even though they cost more up front, you won’t need to replace them for many years. Yes, many YEARS to come; that benefit alone is worth its weight in gold!

Something to note is that most LED-based photo studio lighting systems are made for video use, but they can also be used for still photography. Many LED lights offer a lower output of light since video work is often done at close range. There are products that offer a higher wattage output; just do your homework and research before you make any type of purchase. It doesn’t hurt to call the manufacturer and ask before spending your hard-earned money. As you know, it’s always “buyer beware” when you are investing in something new and unfamiliar.

More Key Benefits:

There are other key benefits to having LED studio lights. Here are a few:

* Low heat means little or no cool-down period, so you are on the go faster and able to accomplish more in less time. This is great when you are in a time-crunch!

* These lights usually have a high CRI (Color Rendering Index).

* The room and studio tend to stay cooler so your talent or products stay cooler (very beneficial when you have a long photo/video session).

* Easy adaption to multiple voltage power supplies.

* Virtually maintenance free – 25,000 to 1,000,000 hours of lamp life.

* You can clip gels to them without incinerating them or burning your hands.

* Nearly all LED fixtures are fanless and totally quiet on the set and in the studio.

* Efficient – LED lights convert 80% of their energy into light; the standard tungsten fixture only converts 20% of its energy into light.

* Most of the LED photo studio lights are dimmable and remote controllable manually or via DMX (a common method used to control stage lighting).

As you can see from the list above, there are many great benefits to having LED studio lights. These are just a few of the benefits we found; there are plenty of others.
Again, it’s always best to talk to the manufacturer of these lights before you invest a large amount of money that you are not able to afford, especially if you have a specific and detailed question that is not answered in a general article you may be reading. Research, research, research – we can’t say that word enough!

Choosing the Best Studio Lights For You:

In deciding which lights to purchase, there are several different ways to go about getting them. Of course, buying the lights outright is the easiest path; however, you can also purchase do-it-yourself kits and build the LED studio lighting system yourself. There are many kits available through traditional retail stores or you can go online to Amazon or other specialty websites to purchase your kit. Again, be prepared and do your homework and research before you venture on this path.

From what we have seen, these light kits can cost several hundred dollars, and these days most people don’t have that kind of money to casually throw away. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, look at online forums, and see what others have to say about them. This can be a great option in helping you decide the best way to get the studio lights you want and need.

Deciding What Type of LED Studio Lights Are Best for You:

Also, decide what your personal needs are and how you will be using the studio lights. Are they for still photography, video, people, animals, commercial products, etc. These are all things you need to think about as you make educated decisions on your purchase(s). Will your session be long, short, in a darker room, lighter room, what about the colors you are using in your photo/video session? These are all things to think about before making a change.

Most of the questions you would normally ask yourself using traditional studio lights will be the same questions you will ask yourself when purchasing the LED photography lights. Have a checklist and highlight the main concerns and questions you may have. Checklists are very helpful when it comes to getting a task accomplished.

In Summary:

There are tons of different brands when it comes to purchasing LED lights for your photography and video needs. We are not here to tell you which is best/worst. Again, just decide if you want a low-cost or high-end style. Once you make those decisions, you can decide what brand fits the bill for your specific needs. It may be a good idea to also cost compare on several different websites and once again, make phone calls to stores and ask the questions before making the purchase.

The most important thing to remember when you begin this journey is to have F-U-N! Whenever you start something new and uncertain in your life, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to take it too seriously. Just enjoy the process and all that you will learn from it. LED lights have become very popular and will most likely be around for a very long time. Once you have educated yourself, gathered all the necessary information you will need to make an informed decision, just embrace the change and enjoy the ride! Don’t look at it as facing something scary and uncertain that you must do, instead look at it as simply moving forward with the times! Remember, the one thing in life that is always certain is that there is most likely change just up ahead and around the corner. Cheers to LED lights in your photo studio and to a great return on your investment!

Best Tripods Under $100 » Top5 pics

With Photography, taking pictures can be extremely tricky if you have shaky hands. No matter how hard you try to cradle the base and position it in a firm position, you always seem to be at an off angle. Luckily tripods were created! They help steady a camera that doesn’t already have image stabilization built in. However, tripods can be an investment and you always want to make sure you purchase the right one.
The “right” tripod depends on good weight, height, flexibility, head style, and feet style. It’s easy to buy a cheap tripod but it can’t be guaranteed it will improve your pictures. Following this guide will help find you the best tripod under $100 to help improve your photography career.
What To Look for When Choosing a Tripod
Weight: One of the most important features of a tripod to look out for is its weight. You never want to select one that is too light or too heavy. Choosing a tripod that is too light might not be effective in windy environments and tend to fall over which can cause frustration. A tripod that is on the heavier side may be harder to transport during shoots and due to its heavier feet, might not be able to get the best angle.
Height: When choosing your tripod’s height, never overcompensate. The worst thing you can do is buy a tripod that elevates to over 50 feet, especially if you’re shooting something that is only 20 feet. When in doubt go for a shorter option. You can always place the tripod on an elevated object to get a better height.
Flexibility: Flexible or fixed are two different styles for tripod legs. Fixed tripod legs are the cheapest and most popular, you’ll remember seeing them during your school pictures. Flexible tripod legs are self-explanatory, they’re flexible! They can tilt and adjust any which way to give the best picture. I will always go flexible since you never know what kind of picture you’re going to take.

Tripod Head Style: Tripod heads come in 2 different options, pan-tilt and ball. The pan tilt head is more specialized to tilt to and from and the ball head is better to catch a variety of angles. No matter which one you pick, both are great options, it really depends on your photography styles. I, however, always pick the ball head due to its versatile viewing angles.Tripod Feet Style: Tripod feet have much more of a job than you’d think. Not only do they negate vibrations from the ground, but they can also stop a tripod from falling over during the perfect shoot. If you’re on concrete or solid ground, go with rubber feet. If you find yourself in more malleable surfaces, go with spiked feet to stop it from moving as much.

Best Tripod Reviews

1. Dolica AX600B250


For a budget-friendly tripod, you will not get much better than the Dolica AX600B250. It functions as one of the best DSLR tripods, but it is also compatible with a selection of other cameras that weigh below 8 pounds. This tripod is made of a super lightweight aluminum alloy that makes it super easy to transport. It can also be extended up to 60 inches. This tripod also features a removable ball head and panoramic capabilities. For a professional grade product at an affordable price, the Dolica is the way to go.

Pros:
-Lightweight
-Panoramic angles include 360 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically
-Great quality for the price
Cons:
-Less sturdy when legs are fully extended
-Can not support a lot of camera weight

2. Manfrotto MKCOMPACTADV-BK


The Manfrotto MKCOMPACTADV-BK is one of the most user-friendly and best tripods under 100 dollars. This compact tripod weighs only 3 pounds and can support up to 6.6 pounds. The foldable three-way head offers great stability and accuracy when setting up shots. The three-way head also has two ergonomically designed levers. One of them is used to control the pan and tilt movement while the other controls leveling. With these handy levers, taking photos has never been easier. This tripod also comes with a padded storage bag for easy and safe travel.

Pros:
-Compact and lightweight
-Sturdy
-User-friendly design
Cons:
-No hook on center post
-Poor head fluidity

3. Ravelli APGL4


The Ravelli brand is known for producing quality products at affordable prices. The APGL4 is no exception. This lightweight tripod is made of aluminum and has an extended height of 70 inches. Other great features include a quick release camera plate and leg locks, pistol grip tilt adjustment head, rubber and spiked feet, and an invertible quick release center column. If money is tight, this is definitely the tripod for you.

Pros:
-Great for professionals and amateurs alike
-Padded carry bag
-Pistol ball grip head
Cons:
-On the heavier side
-Not good for panning

4. JOBY GorillaPod


The JOBY GorillaPod is the smallest of the best tripods under 100 dollars. It reaches a height of just over 12 inches, weighs under a pound, and can support a camera weight of up to 6.6 pounds. The standout feature of this tripod is its legs. They are super flexible and wrappable so you can secure your camera to almost anywhere. This tripod also offers great stability of any surface, even rough terrain, due to the rubberized ring and grips on the feet.

Pros:
-Super flexible legs
-Lightweight and very portable
-Designed for SLR and Mirrorless Cameras
Cons:
-Low height
-Tripod struggles to hold camera weight when sideways

5. Slik PRO 340 DX


The SLIK PRO 340 DX has a super lightweight aluminum frame and can extend up to 57.9 inches. This tripod features a 3-way pan head with 2 handles used to control the pan and tilt. The legs are multi-position and they are covered by foam grips. This way, you do not need to worry about the aluminum being too hot or cold to touch. The legs also have rubber feet to provide extra stability. As far as DSLR tripods that are under $100 go, the SLIK PRO is a great option.

Pros:
-User friendly
-Lightweight
-Great quality for the price
Cons:
-Maximum height is not tall enough to reach eye level
-No built-in bubble level

Even when you are shopping on a budget, there are plenty of options for high-quality tripods. It is all about finding the right tripod for you and your needs. Now is the time to get out there and start taking those photos!

Why The Heck Would Someone Need A Slow Motion Camera?

In short, there are lots of reasons why someone might need one. Slow motion cameras have many uses for both professional and amateur film producers alike. In fact, slow motion cameras have been used in many Hollywood productions. They allow for amazing shots of action scenes, and you can see details that the human eye is unable to perceive even under the best of circumstances. They are used to shoot the most awe inspiring parts of many actions films, and the Matrix just wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the slow motion shots.

While you don’t come across things like Neo dodging bullets in real life, it can be quite awe inspiring to see slow motion footage of ordinary occurrences slowed down to a crawl. Many artistic filmmakers use slow motion cameras to shoot footage of the ocean, falling snowflakes, insects, animals in motion, and other natural occurrences. For instance, slow motion footage can allow you to see the flickering of a fluorescent light or precisely see the way that water ripples from a stone being thrown in a pond.

In addition, slow motion can be used to film the movements of people. While this sort of footage is of something entirely ordinary, seeing ordinary occurrences in slow motion allows you to see things that are invisible to the eye. It can allow you to notice small facial expressions that likely wouldn’t be noticed by the eye, at least not consciously. For this reason, you can use slow motion even if you aren’t filming an action packed movie like The Matrix.

Slow Motion Cameras In The Industrial Sector:

Not everything filmed with a slow motion camera is likely to be the next box office hit, but these uses can be just as important. For instance, slow motion cameras are used in the crash testing of vehicles. This can allow the car companies to see exactly how the dummy responds to a crash. The fine detail can be used to improve upon vehicles to make them safer.

Furthermore, slow motion cameras are used during experiments of various kinds that involve an object moving at high velocity. Slow motion cameras are able to capture the motion of objects that are moving at hundreds or even thousands of miles an hour, such as a speeding bullet. For that reason, slow motion cameras have important uses in ballistics testing.

Watching Baseball Or The X-Games Just Wouldn’t Be The Same Without Slow Motion:

Slow motion cameras also have uses for people filming sporting events. In fact, slow motion film is used to shoot many professional sporting events. When you use a slow motion camera, it is possible to see every detail of the action. You are able to see the ball entering the glove of the catcher, the baseball bat striking a ball, or the details of a linebacker catching a football in mid-air. You can even see the dust rising and falling as a player slides into a base!

Slow motion cameras are particularly common in sports with particularly fast action, such as archery and range shooting. These cameras allow you to actually see a speeding bullet or arrow hitting the target. Slow motion is also used to film skateboarders and snowboarders doing tricks. A lot of times, it would be impossible to see the details of the tricks and how they are performed without the use of a slow motion camera capturing all the action.

So, How Do Slow Motion Cameras Work?

Film appears the same way that images appear to the eye. However, it actually uses a series of photographs. The photographs are then shown at such a fast pace that it appears to be a flowing image when viewed. The eye is unable to perceive the individual photographs (called frames), but they are used by all cameras.

Ordinary cameras shoot film at 24 frames per second. Television uses a speed of 25 frames per second. These frame rates are enough to keep the image from flickering. The frame rate might seem pretty fast, but it’s not quite fast enough to see a speeding bullet. In fact, it isn’t even close.

Slow motion cameras shoot the frames much faster, which means that they have a higher frame rate. They shoot at 250 frames per second or higher. However, there are some slow motion cameras that are able to shoot a much higher frame rate. In fact, there are some cameras that are able to shoot at thousands of frames per second. The higher the frame rate, the more slow motion detail is captured by the camera. Not only are there slow motion cameras that can see a speeding bullet, but there are slow motion cameras that would be able to actually see it rotate in mid air!

Where Do The Images Go Once They Are Captured?

There are different ways that slow motion cameras can store the images. Some slow motion cameras use film. However, this type of slow mo camera is becoming less common. In the past, film was the only way that any sort of film, slow motion or not, could be captured. However, there is a drawback to the use of film. It has to be developed. Many slow motion film cameras have multiple settings that allowed them to shoot film either in slow motion or for use at full speed.

Waiting for the film to get developed can get boring. You just want to check out the action in slow motion, but you have to wait until your local film developer is done processing the footage. Nowadays, you do not need to wait anymore. Most slow motion cameras use electronic memory. This is similar to the digital cameras that are used to take ordinary photographs. The images are stored electronically instead. These cameras are an extremely popular way to take slow motion footage. You can immediately get the slow motion film on Youtube or other video streaming platforms, and it could go viral!

Some slow mo cameras are high speed streak cameras. These cameras can either use film or electronic means of storing the frames. They work by measuring variation in the intensity of light pulses. They store all of the frames as line sized images, and they can be easily played in slow motion.

Some slow motion cameras are high speed framing cameras. These slow motion cameras can use film, but they can also use electronic methods of storing the image, using a CCD network. They record all the images on to the same image plane, and they can create a quality slow motion film.

What Should I Look For In A Slow Motion Camera?

There are a number of things to consider when you are choosing a slow motion camera. It’s important to consider the frame rate of the camera that you are choosing. This will determine just how slow you will be able to play the footage and whether or not you’ll be able to see the wobbling of a water droplet or whatever it is that you’re shooting.

It is particularly important to choose a camera with a high frame rate, if you are using it for certain industrial purposes, such as crash testing or ballistic testing. However, a high frame rate is also necessary for the filming of some action scenes and certain types of sporting events. If you are simply looking to get a few cool slow mo shots of things in your yard or your pets, you might not need the frame rate to be quite as high.

In addition, it’s important to consider the aperture of the lens of the camera. The higher the aperture, the better the film quality will be in low light conditions. If you are going to be shooting in low light conditions, you will absolutely need a camera that has a high aperture.

Furthermore, you should carefully consider the brand of the camera that you are choosing. While there are smaller brands that produce high quality cameras, it is important to be familiar with the brand prior to purchasing your camera. Make sure that other people have had positive experiences with the specific type of slow motion camera that you are considering buying. You’ll want to be able to shoot slow motion footage for a long time, so it’s important that the camera you choose will last a long time.

It also is important to consider what you intend to do with the slow motion footage. If you intend to show the slow motion footage using electronic means, such as showing the footage on your laptop, you’ll want a camera that stores the film electronically. It would be a difficult process to get slow motion footage from a film camera saved on to your computer. Still, it can be done. When you get slow motion footage on to your computer, it is quite easy to burn the footage on to a DVD. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why film slow motion cameras are less common nowadays.

In addition, you should consider how the footage is stored and how it can be transferred to your computer. You certainly wouldn’t want to get a lot of cool slow motion shots and not be able to show it to people on your iPhone.

However, if you are using the slow motion camera for professional filmmaking, there could potentially be advantages to using a film camera. Many experts feel that slow motion cameras that use film have a better quality than digital camera footage.

 

Casio offers some very good and cheap slow motion cameras:
Casio High Speed Exilim Ex-zr1000 Digital Camera
Casio EX-FH100 10.1MP High Speed 1,000 fps Camera

How Much Should I Spend On A Slow Motion Camera?

Well, that depends entirely on what you are looking for. If you are simply looking to experience creating your own slow motion film for the first time, it’s possible to get a cheap slow motion camera for less than 100 dollars. While this might be a great choice for someone simply starting out with slow motion film, it certainly won’t make the cut for the next Hollywood production. There are higher quality cameras that are available in the range of a couple thousand dollars, but there are even better slow motion cameras that can cost much more.

While it won’t be necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a slow motion camera if you are simply looking to take some slow motion footage at a little league game, you still don’t want to just grab the cheapest slow mo camera that you can find. Many of the cheapest cameras could have unpleasant surprises with the quality.

GoPro Hero5

Running around $400, perhaps the most affordable and popular cheap slow motion camera is the GoPro Hero5. This camera has become synonymous with adventure. Starting at 60fps, this camera captures 2.7K slow-motion all the way up to 120fps. This means that if a surfer rides a strong wave, the speed will be so slow the waves will look still. The dynamic zig zag of someone skiing downhill in slow-motion or the slow-motion movement of a dolphin diving underwater coming towards the videographer are actions that could be captured with the GoPro Hero5.

With technology constantly changing, today slow-motion cameras have become less expensive and more accessible. Aspiring filmmakers no longer have to pay post-production companies to produce slow-motion special effects. The purchase of a cheap slow-motion camera is a great investment. In addition to capturing fast frames per second, providing file conversions and producing professional film.