Choosing a tripod for photography in the winter is not as easy as it seems at first glance. If for shooting in a studio or in warm weather you can give preference to any model that fits the technical parameters, then in winter everything becomes more complicated due to the inconveniences characteristic of this time of year. Let’s take a look at what problems you might encounter and how to solve them with the help of the right tripod and accessories for it.
Tripod freezes through
It is quite predictable that at sub-zero temperatures the tripod is very cold and because of this, hands are very cold. The problem becomes especially critical if the legs are made of aluminum, although it is extremely unpleasant to hold cold plastic in your hand at an air temperature of ‑20 ° C. Even mittens or gloves do not save: although hands do not freeze so much with them, another problem appears — the material can freeze to the aluminum surface of the tripod. Photographers can offer two solutions:
one. Choose a tripod with a carrying handle. One suitable option is the Raylab Travel 63. It has a plastic handle that makes it easy to move the tripod between shooting points.
2. Use polyurethane leg pads, which are sold separately and fastened with Velcro (Gitzo GC2560). Some tripods come with them from the factory (for example, the Raylab Pro 65).
Feet slip on ice or sink into snow
These two winter tripod problems also have several solutions:
one. Wider tripod feet. Due to the fact that the contact area with the loose surface increases, the legs are not pushed into freshly fallen snow or thawed porridge. Feet can be purchased separately.
2. spikes. This is an option for icy surfaces. In the snow, such legs are useless, but they literally crash into the ice and provide stability to the tripod. Sold separately. Manfrotto 116SPK3 studs have proven themselves well. There is also a Raylab Pro 75 tripod with interchangeable spikes as standard.
3. Suckers. Another good option for setting up a tripod on ice, and thanks to the increased contact area, you can also work on snow. Some models of suction feet have removable spikes, such as the Manfrotto 204SCK3.
four. Spacer. An indispensable element that does not allow the legs to move apart on a slippery surface and increases the stability of the tripod.
Tripod wobbles and vibrates
The stability of a tripod depends not only on the legs, but also on the quality of the construction as a whole. The following factors are important here:
— Distance between tripod legs. The wider they are, the more stable the structure on the snow.
— Number of sections. It varies from 2 to 5. The more sections, the worse the stability. The Raylab Travel 55 tripod with three sections is a good option if you want the sweet spot.
— Hook for cargo. By means of a hook, the tripod structure is made heavier, making it more stable when using heavy cameras. You can also hang a bag with equipment on the hook so that you do not have to leave it in the snow, for example. Such tripods are offered by Falcon Eyes, which has a Travel Line series. All models included in it have hooks.
— The weight. Logically, heavy tripods are more stable. In this regard, it is better to choose models made of aluminum, for example Raylab Pro 65. There is also a downside to the coin — metal tripods vibrate more. Carbon ones are less prone to vibrations, but in severe frost this property disappears.
Tripod material becomes brittle
In the cold, all plastic elements freeze through, become brittle and can break. There are two solutions: buy high-quality models made of high-quality plastic or carbon fiber, or give preference to aluminum tripods, such as the already mentioned Raylab Pro 65. The manufacturer SIRUI has a series of outdoor tripods; . Just keep in mind that metal structures can have plastic elements, and it is they who will become weak points in extreme cold.
What else to pay attention to
Winter photography outdoors often involves working on uneven surfaces. To facilitate the task of positioning the camera, it is better to choose a tripod with a level plate. Many beginners underestimate the importance of this element, but in fact it significantly speeds up the installation of the camera parallel to the ground. This is especially useful when shooting architecture or landscapes. There is no need to be afraid that the liquid in the level bubble will freeze, since it is ethyl alcohol, not water.
Another non-obvious point that is easy to forget is condensation. When a tripod is brought indoors after shooting in the cold, water droplets appear on it. This is not a problem, but the condensation must be allowed to dry. If you don’t do this and go back outside, the moisture will freeze and you won’t be able to unfold or adjust the legs.
If you fold a frozen tripod and leave it in a warm room, condensation will remain inside the structure, and the next time you shoot in the cold, even after 1–2 days, you may encounter the same problem. To prevent this from happening, do not be lazy, when you come home, immediately unfold the tripod, wipe the legs from moisture and leave for a short while in this position until completely dry.