One of the most important parts of any photographer’s gear should be a tripod but not just any tripod. You need a good-quality tripod. Both amateurs and pros need a tripod. There will be instances such as shooting in low light that will require the use of a tripod to avoid those dreaded blurred images.
If you are using a DSLR camera and a good-sized telephoto lens, you need a tripod that will be able to hold your camera steady under various conditions such as wind and water. Simply put, a $100 or even $200 tripod is not the answer but you don’t have to spend a couple thousand dollars either. Your camera may only weigh eight pounds so a tripod that will hold a camera that weights 10 pounds may sound sufficient but often times you’ll get a lot of camera shake. Don’t waste a hundred or even a couple of hundred dollars on a tripod. If you can’t afford what you need, wait and save up. It’s well worth the wait.
The Oben CT-2391 runs $449.95 and the Sirui K-40X Ball Head runs $165.25. You’re either gasping for breath at the total investment of $615.20 or you realize that you can spend over $2000 on Linhof and Gitzo brands. You can go cheaper if you choose an aluminum tripod but I chose carbon fiber because it was lighter weight. While the combined weight of the head (1.54 lbs) and tripod (3.45 lbs) is nearly five pounds and not “ultra light” per se, I would rather know that my equipment isn’t going to fail me and carry the extra weight.
Doing animal and nature photography, I needed a tripod that could withstand being set up inside a stream or other area of slow-moving running water if need be and not shake. This of course is also important for low-light shots.
The Oben CT-2391 has a 39.6 lb load capacity. The Sirui K-40X Ball Head has a 77 lb load capacity. These two combined are plenty sufficient to hold my Nikon D810 with an attached Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens.
My purpose of this article has nothing to do with reviewing tripods (while I listed and stand by what I use) but to help others save a couple hundred dollars starting out in their photography career. A tripod exists to hold and secure a camera. If you put your camera on one that cannot support it and it shakes, then it defeats the whole purpose. The saying “it’s better than nothing” does not apply here.