If there’s one accessory that every amateur nature photographer must have, its a good quality tripod. No other accessory will provide as much “bang-for-the-buck” in obtaining tack-sharp images as the tripod. Yes, image stabilization (or vibration reduction as Nikon likes to call it) technology can help but there’s really no substitute for a good tripod.
I want to be really clear on this. Buy the best quality tripod legs you can afford and buy them only once. Cheap tripod legs don’t just cost less, they plain don’t work! I’ve seen so many folks start out by buying a $100 tripod only to find out that it won’t hold their $1500 DSLR and $900 lens steady in windy conditions. Then they buy a $200 set of aluminum legs that are almost too heavy to carry. Finally they spend $500 – $700 on a good pair of carbon-fiber legs and wish they hadn’t wasted three months, $300 dollars and 3000 shots.
I strongly recommend buying Gitzo tripod legs like the GT1541T Traveller shown here. Gitzo is the brand that most professionals and serious amateurs use and its for a good reason. Gitzo tripods work very, VERY well and last almost forever!
Images courtesy Gitzo