I keep preaching tripods and thought that maybe some equipment references are in order.

  1. Here’s a great article on why & how to select a tripod. You may be surprised at the costs involved (my tripod and related camera support equipment cost more than my first D-SLR) but what the author says is ALL TRUE.
  2. Here are the top camera support manufacturers (ball head, clamps & plates/brackets & more – you’ll note in the above article, you need more than just a tripod). Both are USA firms so you can buy American and help the economy –
    1. Really Right Stuff (RRS) – click the “Learn About ….” links at each product category to learn about…. (be sure to at least read about tripods, quick release clamps, quick release plates, and ball heads because you need each & every one of these as you don’t want to just screw your camera onto the tripod. If you’re interested in seeing what a complete system looks like, maybe the club can schedule a demo at some future meeting and I’ll bring mine).
    2. Kirk Enterprises – prices and quality are about the same as at RRS
    3. I have equipment from both of these firms (as do virtually 100% of professional outdoor photographers). You can’t go wrong with either.

Tripod maintenance. Tripods can require a little routine maintenance, especially if you’ve been in mud or salt water (but even after routine use some TLC isn’t a bad idea). Here’s an example of a thorough disassemble and clean via photo illustrations for Gitzo and Versa  tripods. If you own a different model, this will still show you the basics – only the details will differ. (I added this for myself as a way to remember where my cleaning instructions were. ;-))
If you have something that looks like this, you have a tripod in name only (sorry). May be OK under the most ideal conditions – like indoors on a level floor (sometimes), but is unsuitable for most outdoor photography and/or D-SLRs  (which are too large/heavy).

The “level floor” remark is aimed at the above (and similar tripods) design – specifically the fact that all legs are “tied together” and can’t be set at different angles. (The remark totally ignores the poor head design and the overall flimsiness as measured against using a D-SLR in an “unfriendly” outdoor environment.)

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