Turning to the Tripod

Did you know that you'll get years more trouble-free service from your fluid head if you remember to loosen the tilt and pan locks before stowing your tripod? The reason: Loose locks allow a head's internal parts to move--cushioned by the internal fluid--without damaging or scoring the brake mechanism when the tripod takes a tumble or gets whacked by an errant equipment case.

Shooting on sticks with a camera designed to be operated on your shoulder (side-mounted viewfinder) is made easy by always positioning the tripod so one leg points directly away from your subject. The other two legs will form a line perpendicular to the lens, creating a safe zone where you can stand with your eye to the finder and making it almost impossible to trip on a leg or jar the shot with a misplaced foot.

Always setting up your tripod with two legs forward and one to the rear also makes it really simple to fold the legs and carry them to your next location with the camera still attached. Making sure the camera is securely fastened and the tilt lock is on, grasp one forward leg in each hand as you put your shoulder to the camera baseplate where it meets the tripod head. Draw both legs rearward as you lift the tripod with your shoulder and wrap your thumbs around the rear leg to hold it secure as you move to your next location. A quick setup is assured by reversing the process. Plant the rear leg first and then extend both hands to reopen the tripod.