View Full Version : use a tripod?

back alley
05-18-2007, 16:48
i was looking at the cv lens poll and seeing all the numbers that use and like these lenses. i'm thinking about the zeiss m and leica m lenses that i have or had over the years.
when it comes to camera gear i like 'the good stuff' and have owned some very good and pricey gear over the years, both rf and slr, 35 and 120.

but i started thinking about getting the most out of my gear and i wonder how many of us actually squeeze out all the quality our gear can muster.
i'm talking using a tripod. i never use a tripod and my hands are not as steady as they once were.
is it worth the extra cost of leica or zeiss if we don't use a tripod?

05-18-2007, 16:55
I use a tripod quiet often but have to admit that I use the monopod more since it is easier to carry.

05-18-2007, 17:00
A good tripod is essential for my stuff, sometimes.

And you might not get 400 l/mm out of your 25 Biogon without one.
But your photos show that it's a great lens anyways, which you use effectively :)


05-18-2007, 17:20


05-18-2007, 17:47
I voted "Less than 50%" But only in some studio use.
I shoot at 1/250s or above (90% of the time). with under 105mm lens. and 1/500s or above with longer, (70-300 on my DSLR is a 112-480 FOV). with my RF, I only have a 50 anyway,(I don't use the Hector at all). So 1/250s is more than enough.

05-18-2007, 17:48
I carry my tripod in the back of my car. So it's there if I need it for when the light gets really low. However, since I seem to have misplaced the quick release plate (again) it gets less use than it could.


05-18-2007, 17:55
For hand held photography anything under 1/125-60 is a compromise so a tripod is better for sharpness. Since carrying a good steady tripod but as an extra piece of equipment and is not always possible or desirable I have a Leitz tabletop that works very well on flat surfaces or on the chest or shoulder and isn't so big and bulky.

05-18-2007, 18:05
I prefer not to but for macros I will and as Im on so many strong painkillers :( I cant hand hold as well now :mad: I prefer a monopod to a tripod for wandering but miss just being able to hand hold at 1/15.

05-18-2007, 18:22
Blur caused by hand-holding will certainly ruin sharpness, but it won't affect the other mythical characteristics of leica lenses such as the "glow" (whether it exists or not).

05-18-2007, 18:32
When I use a tripod or monopod, I tend to get very good images, but I love the freedom of hand holding, so I only use them occasionally.


05-18-2007, 19:33
I rarely use a tripod outside but use it in my studio/office for set up shooting. I never carry one unless I am planning to shoot long. I have carried a monopod but not lately.

05-18-2007, 19:45
I use a tripod for certain kinds of shots. Its overkill for a Leica M but most people go the opposite direction - they want to spend the least amount of money possible on a camera support system. If you want to get the absolute max out of your lens sometimes good support is a necessary evil.

05-18-2007, 19:53
I agree with Peter. Too many people underestimate the value of a good tripod and end up going cheap.
I voted less than 50% because I only use one with my TLRs or occasional SLR macro work. My RFs never find themselves on a tripod unless I'm doing a self portrait (thank you M4 self-timer!).
For years I've carried around a little Slik table top that has come in real handy but I had never owned a serious tripod before! This week I picked up a Gitzo Basalt 2931 and a Kirk BH-3. It was expensive but it's high quality stuff and it should be the last tripod I ever buy (unless it's stolen). I can't wait to get out and try it; too bad it's raining!

jan normandale
05-18-2007, 20:13
I own 6 of 'em .... not one ... six!

05-18-2007, 21:34
I own a cheap tripod and the main camera that goes on it is my A620. In low light with the tripod that little point and shoot amazes me with the results it produces!

I do want a real tripod though ... I think they are fun to use and are the only real way to evaluate the sharpness of a lens!

05-18-2007, 23:29
A monopod is a good compromise.

My friend who lurks here (Hi Bob!) always uses a "stick" with his
Pentax and Rolleiflex cameras. His results are always quite sharp.


Steve Litt
05-19-2007, 01:47
The reason I use a rangefinder camera is because it is small and unobtrusive and the lens is fast enough to hand hold. I dont use wide lenses or really long ones and have never wanted MF quality always prefering B/W 400 iso 35mm (or RD-1) So I am happy to take what I get.I find it hard to say when I have admired a photo because of its ultimate sharpness.I do have a tripod from using slow zooms on a SLR in the past and a monopod.I prefer leaning against something or pulling against the camera strap.I expect if I used a really wide lens I would need a tripod and a spot meter.For me thats a good reason not to as I am lazy and hate carrying more than I really need to!


05-19-2007, 06:05
Yes, I do use a tripod. I have a "normal" tripod (big enough to carry my Fotoman 6x17 without cringe), a very light and small one (an Ultrapod II - http://www.pedcopods.com/products.htm) that I carry everywhere in my photo bag and a tiny one I carry on my business suitcase.

I use them for night or interior shots, more often than I later remember... :-)

The Ultrapod II was my photographic best buy ever. I've been using it on almost a daily basis for more than 10 years and has served me very, very well. It can be "tied" (using the attached velcro belt) to almost anything and I even use it, sometimes, just supported on my shoulder (I can easily gain one or two apertures). It's even light enough to use it on the camera all the time, when moving in and out of dark places. I just fold it beneath the camera. Weight is so low it does not interfere. The Ultrapod II is robust enough to hold my D100 with the 75-300 on it (the old, heavy one... :).

Having said that, my M3 and the Epson get a LOT of handheld use...

05-19-2007, 06:54
This week I picked up a Gitzo Basalt 2931 and a Kirk BH-3. It was expensive but it's high quality stuff and it should be the last tripod I ever buy (unless it's stolen).Nice kit! I have a used Gitzo 1228 with a Linhof b/h that uses an Arca-Swiss QR system. Last tripod I'll ever buy too! :) I mostly use mine with the 135mm lens.

05-19-2007, 07:04
A standard-tripod is a good thing but nothing I want to carry around with me the whole day. But I have the table tripod from Leica too and it is small and sturdy enough to get a place in my bag.

05-19-2007, 07:49
Iīm used to carry allways two small (or table top) tripods of two diferent heights in a magazine holder in my belt. I donīt need them allways but if needed they are at hand.
I have three other tripods of different sizes (and weights!). The two heavier are usually sleeping at home, and the other one is usually going out for vacations or when I do expect to need it.
For RFs I prefer a light metal chain bolted to the tripod socket and the other end hold with my feet. itīs cheaper than a monopod and fits nicely in my pocket.


05-19-2007, 07:53
I use mine occasionally regardless of what camera/lens I'm using.
Most often, I'm carrying a camera around my neck and another lens in a pocket, as I do my day to day wandering. If I'm going somewhere specifically to photograph, I usually have one with me.
I've got a decent compromise between size and stability: Maxi 3437(I think it's that one--4 section legs, collapses small enough to fit itno carry on luggae, good ball head) that is in Italy now, I think--my dad borrowed it for his trip but I'm not sure that he actually tokk it with him.
At some point, I want to try a monopod.

05-19-2007, 08:04
I've pretty much given up on a tripod these days. Years of shooting stock where nearly every shot was from a tripod, lugging a bogen everywhere I went, and years of 810 work both indoors and out has pretty much spent me on them (for now). I'm down to owning only 2 tripods- the workhorse Bogen 2301 and the biggest Bogen of all for the view cameras (an 1114 camera is HEAVY).
I tend to shoot no slower than 45th or 30th- those only when I have to. I usually have a body loaded with the next higher speed film in the bag if I'm shooting B&W, so just grab that when I'm somewhere darker than the rest of the day. With color, I'll pass shots if it's too dim, as I usually find 400 color film disappointing. A RF doesn't seem like a tripod camera to me- I think I'll add flash before I'll tie one of them down.

Kameran Kashani
05-19-2007, 08:13
Though I have several tripods, I rarely use them with the Leica. My working style with a rangefinder is based on Tri-X 1600 (with occasional exceptions) and f1/f1.4 lenses.

But, when I shoot 6x6cm and 4x5... that's another story.


Nikon Bob
05-19-2007, 08:19
In some ways it is kind of a joke to agonize over getting the absolute sharpest lens you can find at an exorbitant price and then shoot it hand held. Having said that, I and as guilty of shooting hand held as the next person. I just chalk a lot of that up to personal laziness. I use them less than 50% of the time. Then too there are times when using one is just not allowed or practical to use one. I say use them if you can and it is appropriate to do so.


gb hill
05-19-2007, 08:21
My wife bought my first tripod for me at Christmas years ago. I'm 6' tall and the tripod only went up to maybe 54". Wasn't very good on the back. Also it was so lightweight the least bit of wind would shake the camera. Now I have a nice heavy duty tripod that I can crank up to eye level & higher if need be. And it's lightweight but plants firm on the ground and can withstand a nice wind. The cheaper one I still use for a tabletop. Works well if you don't extend it all the way. So it pays to get a good tripod.

05-19-2007, 08:31
Leica M: the essence of fast, unobtrusive, spur of the moment photography.

Tripod + Leica M: deliberate, concentrated, slow.

I opt for the former every time. I carry my camera nearly everywhere. Obviously, a tripod defeats the purpose of small and quick.

gb hill
05-19-2007, 08:31
At some point, I want to try a monopod.

I too wan't to try a monopod. I would like to have one easy to tag along with no problem as i'm walking, & heavy duty enough to use as a ninja stick againgt dogs or would be robber. Any suggestions?

05-19-2007, 18:04
I too wan't to try a monopod. I would like to have one easy to tag along with no problem as i'm walking, & heavy duty enough to use as a ninja stick againgt dogs or would be robber. Any suggestions?I use a Tracks Sherlock walking staff with a Manfrotto 3229 quick release monopod head. The staff adjusts from 43" to 58" with the head attached. When collapsed all the way, it is about 35". I've used it for many years as a hiking stick for backpacking, and it is still as rigid and sturdy as when it was new. Also, there is a nasty spike tip underneath the rubber foot. The staff retails for $69.95 at Campmor. I don't recall how much the head cost, but it wasn't a lot.

05-19-2007, 18:24
...I love my dogs. My Rotty weighed 114 pounds at the vet a couple of weeks ago and he looks really mean, barks loud, but hes a baby. My Husky:rolleyes: well thats a different story. She is the protector around here.
Could you train one of the dogs to stand very still while wearing some kind of harness or something to hold a small-ish tripod?:D
And the dog(s) could become a bigger part of your photography.
A lot silly, I know.

Steve B
05-19-2007, 19:44
Leica M: the essence of fast, unobtrusive, spur of the moment photography.

Tripod + Leica M: deliberate, concentrated, slow.

I opt for the former every time. I carry my camera nearly everywhere. Obviously, a tripod defeats the purpose of small and quick.
I also find that a tripod negates the things I love most about using a rangefinder. When I'm using my dslr I'm much more inclined to set up the tripod but with the M I'm more inclined to stay loose and move more quickly. When looking back at my pics I find that the ones where I had the freedom to move around quickly and easily in search of the perspective I was looking for are the most pleasing to me and are more likely to reflect the feeling that I had when I was there. And many times these are photographs that I didn't think too much about when I was taking them, or at least I didn't over analyze them. I just looked, thought, and shot what seemed intuitive at the time. If I set up the tripod I'm likely to over analyze until the light is gone and miss the thing completely. I wish I had the patience to plan, compose and wait, return and repeat but I guess that's not what I usually do. If you were to combine the very different approaches of Frans Lanting and HCB, for instance, what would you get? Richard Avedon or Walker Evans doing seemingly spontaneous photography with a tri-pod mounted large format camera? Maybe I'm carrying the analogy a bit too far but if you could do that it seems to me that you could make some very fine photographs! I hope it doesn't seem presumptuous to chat about these photographers who I don't know as much about as I'd like, but I've seen and admired their work and it seems to me that the tripod issue is one of the things that is indicative of and intrinsic to their different approaches.

05-19-2007, 20:39
I voted "never" though that's of course not entirely true... it's just a lot closer to 0% than 50% so it seemed like a better answer. In any case, it'd only be for studio work, or heavier medium/large-format cameras, or macro, etc. With the rangefinders I never use a tripod, except when I'm adjusting the RF alignment or something...


05-21-2007, 15:38
for rf work - I never use them.

for me it's also not about raw resolving power of the rf lenses - so I buy for their signature, which is not as dependent on my ability to hold still. So, I would buy zeiss or leica if there was a particular signature I wanted... if I'm going for sharpness, I'm not dorking around with 35mm anyway. That's what the big cameras are for.

05-21-2007, 15:45
The 35mm rangefinder does not seem to be a tripod camera and I use it for carrying around...street, indoors, spur of the moment action. I voted never.

I would and do use a tripod with my xpan and MF....mostly to get nice crisp landscapes...I just dont seem to be shooting that very often anymore.

05-22-2007, 06:55
I dragged a tripod with me on exactly one trip abroad. It was so heavy it spoilt travelling around and I only used it once (and that was to have a try at stained glass windows, impossible without but I only did that to justify bringing the tripod).

Since then, I discovered that the world is full of tripod replacements: trees, poles, the ground, benches etc. Most work just as well and are readily available. The only limitation is that sometimes, they're not exactly situated where I want. Now, I use primes and sometimes with a prime, I can't do what others with zooms can, so I'm used to this kind of limitation. I consider it a challenge to carry a single prime and still get good framing despite the lack of tripod/zoom. What's my advantage ? A kit that is less than 1kg.


05-22-2007, 11:03

I'm old like you and I'm with Peter on the tree, fence, lamp,... post.
But I will pack a monopod on the Gbag straps, about 5% of time, and always in the car trunk(uk - boot). the mono pod is hard when hill walking (wilderness in Ca).


Kin Lau
05-22-2007, 13:23
With RF, I only use tripods for night shots or heavy RFs like my SG 4x5.

Otherwise it's a monopod when I'm shooting with my dslr + long lens.

Max Power
05-22-2007, 13:27
Usually only when doing MF, rarely with a RF.

05-22-2007, 13:51
Depends on the camera...

Rangefinder - almost never
SLR - sometimes for landscapes, studio work and when using long lenses
Medium format - (when I had one) nearly always.