Texas Landscape Safari Preparation – Tripods

As many of you know this spring’s Texas Landscape Safari is scheduled for later this month (April 24th – 27th, 2010) and I thought I’d help folks get ready by discussing some “tools of the trade” used by every landscape photographer. So over the next three weeks I’ll be posting images of the gear I use along with some shots made possible by this gear. Honestly, it’s just plain fun to “geek out” over gear every once in a while.

A Quiet Evening

A Quiet Evening – Johnson City, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-104mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/12 for 2 seconds at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Tripod Legs in ActionThe single most important piece of photographic gear you’ll ever purchase (after your camera and lens) is a set of light-weight, good quality tripod legs. A good tripod can make the difference between a shot that “looks” sharp on the camera’s LCD and one that “is” tack sharp when printed at 24″ × 36″. Remember, the number one cause of soft images isn’t poor focus, it’s camera movement.

Click on the image above and look at the crisp detail of the rocks and trees compared to the silky smooth look of the water. Getting this type of shot required a 2 second exposure in the late evening and the slightest camera movement would have completely ruined the image.

Good quality tripod legs are not cheap and you can expect to pay somewhere between $300 – $800 (USD) depending upon the materials of construction, size and weight. I currently use two different set of tripod legs these days; one for studio & on-location work (Gitzo GT2541 Mountaineer) and one for hiking (Gitzo GT1541T Traveller). Both are constructed from carbon fiber making them very light-weight but extremely strong and durable.

I’m an unabashed believer in Gitzo tripods (probably the only French product I’ve ever bought) and highly recommend them to any photographer. Both of my tripod legs have seen the extremes of heat, humidity, mud, sand, gravel and just plain dirt and they work as well now as the first day I bought them. You may buy four or five cameras over your lifetime as a landscape photographer but you’ll only need one Gitzo tripod!

8 thoughts on “Texas Landscape Safari Preparation – Tripods

  1. I used to have a nice Manfrotto, but I had to sell it to buy food a numb of years ago. Recently I bought an Induro because frankly I still couldn’t afford a Gitzo or Manfrotto and I have to say, for the price, it’s amazing.

    • Noah,

      Induro makes nice tripods as well. I still have two very old aluminum Slik tripods for the early 80’s. Photographers are pack-rats. We never throw anything away. I’ve never had to sell gear to buy food thanks goodness but I did have to sell my soul for the 5D2 body. (kidding).

      Jeff

  2. I have my Manfrotto ready to bring. So its the Italians and the French.

    Any update emails on the trip? The most recent I have is Jan 21, we have made reservations at each of the hotels listed in that email.

  3. Gitzo has been full Italian since 2005. Production was moved to Italy between 2001 & 2003. So if it’s a goal of yours not to buy French, then you may be in the clear. (you don’t call them freedom fries do you? 😉 )

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