Tripod Shopping Tips for Food/Craft Bloggers

If you’re a food or craft blogger, whether you have a point and shoot or a DSLR, a tripod is probably a good investment, especially if you’re working with low lighting that will slow down your shutter speed, giving you blurry photos.

Before I get into the tips, I should point out that these tips are more geared towards the beginner. If you’re a photo pro you probably know all this and more (so leave a comment with your tips if you’d like!). ;)

Point and Shoot Tripod Tips

If you have a point and shoot camera, you can get a decent tripod from your local photography shop for around $20. It’s not top of the line but it’ll get the job done. I’ve also seen some neat ones with bendy legs that you can wrap around stuff like poles or fences, which seem pretty neat.

If you have a point and shoot, I would get:

  • A standing one for $20-ish
  • A tripod with the bendy legs.
  • Basically, I’d keep it simple. :)

DSLR Tripod Tips

If you have a DSLR, you’ll want to make a better investment. When I went shopping, I wanted to purchase a medium quality tripod. I didn’t want the cheapest one, but I didn’t want the top of the line either. I wanted one I could use for a long time and one that gave me some good flexibility in usage and ability to upgrade later (upgrades as far as head). The tips below are geared towards such a tripod, but could be beneficial no matter which level you want to purchase.

Here are some of my personal tips (apply as best fit your specific situation, financially, lifestyle-wise, etc.):

When you’re ready to start shopping and/or buy a tripod, go to your local camera shop. Most small photography stores hire real photographers, so they can offer you real life advice and tips from their experience or from what they’ve heard from their customer feedback. I also like having someone there to answer my questions as I think of them or make decisions between different options. Plus, you’ll be supporting a local business On top of that if you build relationships with your local shop, they can help give you extra advice in other areas or on future purchases. Some small photography shops even sell used tripods (or other equipment)! I am so glad I went to my local store – the man I spoke with was soooo helpful! Btw, you can probably get tripods online cheaper, but saving money won’t save you anything if you get the wrong one (not that buying one in person guarantees you won’t but it helps) plus supporting local businesses rocks!

Ask the right questions. Explain how you intend to use the tripod so the person assisting you can help narrow down some good options. Ask questions about usability based on the types of photos you take now, where you plan to take your photos, etc. If the person helping you understands your needs, they can better help you.

Good tripods are expensive. But beyond price, think of the investment sitting on top of your tripod. You could get a cheap camera, but would saving $50 be worth your $500 camera crashing to the ground and breaking? IMO, no. My tripod cost me $170-ish and was considered one of the lower-end ones! I was very surprised at how much good tripods cost. I heard you can get decent ones for $80 but the man at the store said it would be worth it to pay more if I thought I’d use it after my photography class. I really didn’t want to spend so much but I did want to get a good tripod that would last me for a long time, too.

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Save money by purchasing a tripod that already comes with a head (make sure you can replace the head for flexibility). Most tripods are actually sold without heads (the attachment at the top of the tripod where the camera is connected to the tripod). I looked at one tripod that was about $150 and a head that was $100. Talk about a lot of moolah, and I wasn’t even looking at the most expensive ones! The nice man at the photo shop where I went showed me a tripod that already came with a head, which saved me some money. He said I could upgrade to a better head later when I have more money.

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Get a tripod that has legs that do not attach in the center. Many tripods, especially the more affordable ones will have legs that attach in the center. This will limit what angles you can put your tripod in. My tripod, pictured, does not attach in the center, so my legs will flatten all the way down if I want. I don’t know that I’ll ever flatten my legs all the way down on my tripod, but I can at least widen them as much as I need or do different angles. I have more flexibility in leg positions this way.

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Get a tripod that will extend very tall. If you’re a food or craft blogger, you may find yourself wanting to take photos looking straight down onto something on your countertop. If your tripod puts your camera high enough, you can accomplish this with the sturdy hold of a tripod (as opposed to your shaky hand).

In case you’re curious, I purchased the Vanguard Tracker 4 tripod. I’m very happy with it so far. It’s a bit heavy and doesn’t come with a bag (so I may sew one?) but it works well.

Questions? Comments? Tips you’d like to add? Leave me some comment love. :P

PS I’m planning on doing some posts on my personal photography tips – just a head’s up

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Comments

  1. says

    Great tips! I’m contemplating and contemplating, there are just sooo many different kinds out there! And I can’t believe how pricey they are too. Chris’ old boss is really into photography and he has a suitcase of gear, including like a 300mm f1.4 or something crazy like that. He has a crazy tripod too, probably at least $1000. I think he said Manfrotto is really good and then recommended acratech heads, which of course are about 250 & up for just the head! Getting really close to the ground with the legs would be great for macro shots for something on the ground. I need to find a local photo shop because I’ve found the same goes for bike gear. It’s really good to get to know experts personally because they may have deals and we really like supporting local small businesses too :) sorry for the long comment :)

  2. says

    Oh I wanted to ask if most mid-grade tripod heads can do vertical shots? I don’t want to have to use an L-bracket but I’m not sure if most of them do that? Thanks!

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