How to choose your tripod for night photography and panorama photography

TV Tower at the bund

One of the major reference is the height. There is a time that small tripods are popular for travel and landscape photography. In most cases height is not that critical because photographer can always walk back and forth or move ball head up and down to adjust the view. But for panorama photography, the ball head need to be kept in a horizontal position, which leaves photographer’s walking to be the only solution. But in outdoor terrain there is still possibility that photographer cannot move freely because of obstacles, such as other photographers or a tree comes in the view, or a river blocks the retreat, etc. Although the height problem can be solved with a panorama boom head, it also eliminates the advantage of the small tripod in portability and price.

Another important reference is the opening angles between the tripod legs. The small tripods usually tends to have small diameter in the legs. To offer sufficient support, the opening angles of the maximum height will also be smaller to make the direction of force be more vertical. For most camera and wide angle lenses this won’t be a problem. But for telephoto lens and telescope, which are widely used for panorama and astrophotography, it requires the tripod not only to have sufficient loading capacity, but also strong balance, therefore it is recommend to choose tripod with bigger legs, because usually it has bigger opening angles of the maximum height and offer better support for the big lenses, especially in the wind.

Last but not least is the section of the tripod. The most common options are 3 sections, 4 sections and 5 sections. 3-section tripod has the best performance in stability, but it also takes the largest space in luggage. 5-section tripod is the most lightweight and portable, but its smallest section of the legs are also the weakest parts in support. As night photography usually requires the camera to keep still for a certain amount of time for long exposure and panorama photography is usually accomplished in outdoor with needs of portability, 4-section tripod seems to be an ideal choice with both strength and compactness.

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