Just as interchangeable lenses on an SLR each have a specific purpose or meet a certain need, the same applies to tripod heads. Even if a head comes as part of the tripod kit, you soon realize you may need to replace or supplement it. In this buyer’s guide to tripod heads we’ll look at some of the factors to consider, including budget, load considerations, applications, and matching heads to “sticks.” We’ll also look at the various types of heads available and how each can be used for very specific shooting needs.
Perhaps the most exciting news in tripods is the first four-legged support. Yes, you read that correctly. In theory, it’s a more stable approach—just think of the pyramids. Aside from this innovation, there is a growing trend toward lighter-weight metals in tripods big and small—and that is certainly welcome. While carbon fiber, as a lightweight material, still has the advantage...
Camera metering systems are great. No doubt about it. But there are times when you might want to expand your metering options, such as for flash or strobe studio and outdoor photography, for really tricky light and when you want to make a number of measurements within a scene, that a handheld meter will come in, well, handy.
The conventional camera strap does the job, but with some gear can put considerable strain on the neck, tempting you to hang your camera from the shoulder, where it may slip off or invite thieves. Like a good backpack, today’s ergonomically designed camera-carrying systems largely relieve that stress and throw in some extras in the bargain. New age straps feature a more comfortable neck/shoulder pad than found on conventional neck straps, so you’ll still be comfortable hours later, and often with a quick-release mechanism to rapidly detach the camera when the need arises. Many are of a sling design aimed at the “quick shooters” among you, and some are so innovative as to almost defy description. A few even let you comfortably and safely carry two cameras at the same time.
Andy Marcus and son Brian are second- and third-generation portrait and wedding photographers. Their New York City studio, Fred Marcus Photography & Videography (www.fredmarcus.com), continues a tradition of dedicated service established by Fred Marcus back in 1941. “Back then my dad would use a 5x7 view camera for studio work and could be seen shooting portraits in bridal salons in the prestigious Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, among other venues,” Andy recalls. “When he shot weddings, he’d bring a Speed Graphic to the event—and flashbulbs.”
Increasingly, manufacturers are coming out with cameras and speedlights that support wireless TTL flash operation. What this means for you is a simplified approach to using dedicated flash units off camera—especially multiple speedlights, alone or mixed with other light sources. With wireless TTL you’re free to move the off-camera flash a few inches or a few feet here or there, not to mention modifying the light in any desired fashion, and all without having to recalculate exposures, use a flash meter, and link everything together with wires. The camera’s metering system does the math for you. Beyond that, wireless TTL assures you that all speedlights on and off camera will fire in sync.
Granted, when hand holding my Canon EOS 5D D-SLR, I prefer to use the optical viewfinder for the utmost stability. But there are many times when I'd be just as happy to view the subject on the LCD--except, of course, that this camera, unlike newer models, lacks a live view display.
Well, I've found just the device that gives my 5D that capability...