Your full-size tripod is important, but when you want to travel light, a pocket
Tripod is great for getting into your own group shots and capturing twilight landscapes.
For so many creative endeavors, you need a way to stabilize your camera; it comes with pushing the limits of photography. Every serious photographer needs to have a full-size tripod. But beyond that, a variety of smaller stabilizing devices can help you cope with various shooting situations. At the top of this list is the pocket tripod.
Before I get into the equipment itself, I want to review why tripods contribute so much to image sharpness. They help prevent camera shake: soft, fuzzy images that result from not holding the camera steady during exposure.
When you want to photograph a subject without a flash in low ambient light? such as when you’re indoors, or during dusk or early morning hours? Your camera chooses a long shutter speed. When I say long, I mean 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 of a second, or longer. Now, those times probably sound pretty fast to you. But in camera terms, they are as slow as molasses in winter. Most daylight pictures are recorded at 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 of a second, or faster.
Once your shutter slows down to 1/15 of a second or longer, you need to stabilize the camera. If you don’t, the slightest movement you make during the exposure will actually cause softness in the image. In low lighting, even the act of pressing the shutter button itself can cause camera shake.
This is why tripods are necessary. Unless you’re going to limit your shooting to broad daylight or flash photography, you’re going to need a way to stabilize the camera. For big jobs, such as photographing a starry night, you’ll need a big tripod. But for many situations, you can get by with a mini tripod that fits in your back pocket. These are important tools, because compact tripods are more likely to make the trip than their bulkier big brothers, who are often left at home.
Let’s look at a few pocket tripods and see what’s available:
Sony VCT-TK1 Compact Pocket Tripod
Quantaray QT-75 Mini Tabletop Tripod