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Finding the Right Tripods for Camcorders

I have been researching and writing about consumer electronics for over 13 years.

Create Better Movies With Tripods for Camcorders

If you've put significant money into a camcorder or if the quality of your films matters to you, you should probably consider purchasing a camcorder tripod. Of all of the available accessories, the tripod is the one that can make the most immediate and significant improvement in your films.

In this article, you can learn more about why tripods for camcorders are important and how to choose the right one.

The Argument for Using a Tripod

When talking about camcorder tripods, one of the first questions to address is why a home videographer would be interested in having one. Certainly, a tripod is one extra piece of equipment to purchase and to have to carry around. This is why many budget-conscious consumers and those who want simplicity choose not to buy a tripod. However, this can be a mistake if you want your viewers to enjoy your films.

Steadiness is a primary factor in the quality of the video you capture. You can have a camcorder with high resolution, a fast frame rate that creates smooth motion, great color accuracy, and so forth, but if the video is jumping around due to an unsteady hand, it will still be difficult to watch. Undoubtedly, a camcorder with optical image stabilization will help in this regards, but the most complete solution is a good tripod. Handheld shots reveal any movements of the person filming, including minor hand shake. A tripod eliminates this.

Additionally, a tripod can help improve the audio portion of your recording. A tripod helps eliminate some of the noise created when you handle the video camera by hand.

How to Choose the Right Tripod

Here are some things to consider to guide you in making the right choice:

  • Good tripods for video cameras will not only provide rock-solid shots from a static location but will allow you to pan smoothly to follow the movement. A ball head or fluid head is often the best in this regard.
  • Of course, if you're buying a tripod, you might also need to consider its affordability. Certainly, some of the sturdiest, most durable tripods can cost well over $50 up to $700. However, there are tripods available across the continuum of cost as professionals use them as well. Even a very affordable $30 model is generally better than no tripod at all. Aluminum tripods are a much more affordable option than titanium or carbon fiber although these are sturdier.
  • The next question shoppers generally have is in regards to portability. Certainly, no one really wants more equipment to tote around. However, most tripods are quite lightweight and will fold up to a very small size. Both aluminum and titanium are very lightweight materials. There are a number of full-sized tripods that will fold up to a length of 12 to 14 inches and can often fit in a carrying case/bag for easy transport.
  • Of course, ease of set up is probably as important as ease of transporting. So some hands-on with the tripod before selecting it is important.
  • There are some basic features you want to consider, such as:
    • A ball head that allows for easy, smooth panning.
    • Some type of leveling indicator is also useful.
    • In addition, adjustable height is a critical feature. You'll want to be sure the locks will be secure to prevent slippage and will be easy to operate to save time and frustration.
    • For anyone filming outdoors, having spikes to help keep the tripod in place on uneven ground is another handy feature.
    • While used more often with still cameras, there are tripods that offer greater flexibility. They lack the rigid legs of traditional tripods and can be bent in many angles. (See the photo above as an example.) These might be right for a select few individuals who film outdoors primarily.
  • The final question often asked is how to identify quality equipment. Certainly, quality materials that will last are of primary importance. Titanium is highly recommended for its strength as is carbon fiber, but aluminum can serve adequately with today's smaller camcorders if you're on a budget. Keep in mind that nuts and bolts also indicate sturdier and more durable joints, plastic parts and rivets are more fragile.
  • Rubber feet grip better and last longer than plastic feet.
  • For the smoothest movement, a gear or fluid head is best if you don't mind spending more money.
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Tips for Using a Tripod for Better Video

© 2010 Christine Mulberry


Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on April 05, 2010:

Good solution for shakey hands on the camcorder. Makes watching home films more enjoyable. Thanks for the info.

Tony on March 24, 2010:

Great information.

LoneWolfMuskoka from Huntsville, Ontario, Canada on March 24, 2010:

I have a tripod that has most of the features you recommend with the exception of the ball head. This makes the panning a bit more jerky when doing both horizontal and vertical motions at the same time, so the next one I get will definitely have the ball head.

It still provides much better images than hand held shots.

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