Mini Tripods

I am thinking of getting a small tripod for my digital point-n-shoot camera. I want it for evening shots and panoramas. Is a spirit level in the tripod head really necessary? What sort of tripod should I get?

The obvious reason for a spirit level on the tripod head is to ensure your camera is level. This helps avoid the dreaded sloping horizon when taking panoramic photos and wide-angle landscapes. It also stops you from accidentally pointing your camera slightly down or up, with can result in a curved horizon and converging verticals with a wide lens.

So is the extra expense of a spirit level really necessary?

Not if you just want to make panoramas. You can achieve the same end by putting your camera on the tripod and rotating the head, while taking note of where the horizon line hits the edge of the frame as you move through the arc of your photograph. Adjust the tripod legs and head so that the horizon line is straight and stays in a constant position as you rotate the tripod. If you want to avoid a curved horizon, make sure that the horizon line is in the exact middle of the frame. You can always crop the top or the bottom of the photo later if you don't like having it centered.

If you only plan on using a point-n-shoot camera on the tripod, you should have no problem finding a small and light one that you can easily carry with you on hikes. If you think you'll sometimes want to put an SLR or another heavy camera on the tripod, you'll probably need to pony up for something a bit more sturdy, heavy and expensive. But a cheap, light tripod that you can carry with you will beat an expensive, heavy tripod you left behind anyday!



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