A tripod is a three-legged device used to steady a camera when taking pictures. It is especially useful when a photographer needs to shoot long exposures, level landscapes, still life compositions and portraits.
It is difficult to hold a camera by hand without shaking it, but shots with slow shutter speeds need to be absolutely steady or the picture blurs. Tripods allow photographers to maintain stability while shooting sunsets and night images, focusing close-ups and using a telephoto lens. Tripods give photographers time to artistically frame a composition. In nature photography, a tripod helps the photographer have the camera ready while waiting for the perfect wildlife shot. When using a camcorder, a tripod allows the photographer to maintain stability while panning during sports or other action sequences.
When using a tripod, it is important to find solid, level ground. A tripod is not as effective if the surface it rests on is spongy or unstable. All three legs must be completely spread out to their full width. Once the legs are extended to the desired height, they must be locked in place. A spirit level helps ensure that the tripod is absolutely level. A screw-in tripod release plate attaches the camera's tripod thread firmly to the tripod. The camera must be locked into place and all screws tightened for maximum stability.