5 reasons to pack a tripod for your vacation

A tripod is one of the most useful accessories you can pack in your luggage. What an irony as most of us dislike the thought of bringing our tripod for vacations. I can understand that we think of tripods as cumbersome and takes up too much space.

But I hope to illustrate in this article five scenarios where tripods are absolutely necessary in your quest to shoot the ideal picture and hopefully, for readers to rediscover and start using the humble tripod again.

#1 Bringing out the best in picture quality

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Canon 5DSR , EF11-24mm, 1/15s, F18, ISO100.

We all want the best picture quality possible. This usually involves setting the lowest possible ISO to achieve the optimal pixels quality from our camera sensors as most of us out there dislike “noise” (caused by high ISO) in our pictures. In low light situations, such as the sunset shot at Urakawa Beach, South Hokkaido (above), the use of a tripod is highly recommended.

A tripod in this situation facilitates composition, as you can see in image above that I have shot. The setting sun will be in a predictable spot and with your camera on tripod. This means you will be able to stay focus on other subject that enhances the scene, like making ‘dreamy’ waves as they break and ebb on the beach.  Another bonus point you get is the sharpness in your picture as a result of tripod stability, which allows you to blow up big prints if you intend to decorate your house with enlarged prints.

#2 Shooting pictures in low-light situation

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Canon 70D, EF10-18mm STM, 13sec, F8.0, ISO100

Every often getting these shots are subjected to both a great deal of patience on our end and blessings by nature. In this lovely last light moment at a hotel pool in Kuta (above), I needed a tripod to balance the overall ambience light as the clouds, pool foreground, cafe guests, and other variables that fits in well with long exposure.  Without a tripod, you will have to use high ISO to achieve the level of shutter speed that only allows hand-held shooting. But the overall clarity and picture quality will be correspondingly reduced with higher ISO.

#3 Capturing “motion” in your still pictures

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Canon 70D, EFS10-18mm STM, 25sec, F9.0, ISO100.

There comes a time when blurriness is appreciated to convey the sensation of movement, like in the case of a flowing stream or waterfall. In this picture of the river in Wuling Farm, Taichung (above), one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Taiwan, having a tripod is a must!  The mood of the river cascading down the embankment would have been much different if the stream were to be “frozen” due to a high shutter speed. As the shutter speed used for this shot was 25 seconds with a neutral density filter , having a tripod is not an option here – it’s a must.

#4 Shooting composite pictures

Singapore river
Canon 70D, EFS10-18mm STM, 30sec, F9.0, ISO100. (composite 3 images)

One of the advantages of digital photography is that we have the option to perform post-edits like composite pictures. A camera secured on a stable tripod allows the merging of multiple frames or bracketed exposures to be combined for special effect that cannot be achieved with a single frame. For the composite picture of the Singapore River (above), the picture was merged from three frames – one for the Marina Bay Sand Integrated Resort with laser show, one for the river boat trails and another for the skyscrapers . I chose to do composite in this case , as  I wanted the river boats with its light trails and the Marina Bay Sands laser light in the same picture. However, in actual scenario, both do not happen at the same time. Hence, having a tripod facilitates such picture effect.

#5 “Being” in the picture

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Canon 5DSR, EF70-200mm F4L IS , 1/2000, F4,5, ISO200.

One of my personal regrets is frequently not being in pictures that I have shot. Either you get someone to shoot the photo, with that chance you won’t find the photo composition to your liking. Without a tripod, the “whole group minus one” situation always arises. Unless you have a professional photographer tagging along to shoot for you, you run the risk of having photos with your legs or hands “cropped off”, badly composed or simply the hassle of looking for and entrusting passersby to assist.  But what if you are on a beautiful remote island with very few people around you ?

In worst-case scenarios, you might even have your camera stolen by the stranger you handed your camera to! I have also seen friends’ entire family vacation albums in which they hardly in the pictures, being able to save only a handful of ‘welfies’ or ‘selfies’. So much that viewers would exclaim “oh, finally, there you are!” In the picture above, I managed to get myself and everyone in the travel group in the photo (including the tour bus driver) during a trip to Hokkaido. If you want to be in a picture that is the result of your own composition, a tripod is a MUST!

Final Words

If you’re wondering about whether to bring your tripod for your next trip, think about the 5 scenarios above. Packing a tripod might be a hassle, but these breathtaking photos that it enables you to take will make it all worthwhile. I hope that through this article, you will bring it out more often and shoot better pictures with it. Vive Le Tripod !

Note: Please note that tripods with recessed spiked tips must be checked in before flights, as the sharp tips will show up on the X-ray scanner and will be disallowed as hand-carry items.

Author : Jensen Chua, CanonEOSWorld, Council Member. iStock/Getty Images contributing artist. Pictures used are copyrighted and all rights reserved.