Properly Adjusting a Tripod

Stand Up

The tripod is the base piece of accessory equipment to accompany your digital video camera. For stable images you have to forgo the freedom of hand held camera work and instead use the three legged platform that has become the standard for smaller video camera filming. Without this stabilizing force you will end up with completely amateurish images, yet you have to find the right balance between creativity and reliance on the standards set by this type of equipment. If your tripod is not adjusted correctly you could end up damaging your images even more than if you allowed palm held shake to take over your frame space.


The first thing you have to look for is stability in the image. It is very easy for the tripod to be set at an awkward angle, tilting the camera. This could happen from a misbalance in the tripod head, an uneven placement of the legs, or even a slanted ground area. All good tripods include a bubble level on the head, yet this is fallible. The best way to check if your camera is on a strait plane is to hang something in front of it that will hang strait. Try dangling your keys in front of the lens and then look into the viewfinder to see if it is hanging strait. If it is not then you may have to make adjustments.


When doing a still camera image you are going to want to make sure that the tripod is going to remain stable. If the head moves even the smallest amount as in a response to the air movement or interference the clip could be lost. Try to set up your tripod how you want it without the camera on it and then try to disturb the positioning. Work to make it so that the tripod will be fairly resistant to this outside influence before you put the camera on.  This is particularly difficult when you are using a dolly along with the tripod, and this tripod technique can actually create a destabilizing situation.  To avoid this you need to simply look at how to properly secure the tripod.  If this is a dolly that secures directly to the tripod and on a track it can simply be making sure that the proper measures are maintained, as is true with the spider dolly.  If it is an open flat dolly, such as a doorway dolly, then you need to just add weight to the base to secure it.


You are also going to want to make sure that the legs are going to stay in the correct position. This means adjusting and testing the locks that you can place on the legs. Without this you can have moments when the legs themselves will spread out or shoot one longer than the others. This is a common problem and to help fix this use gaffers tape to help secure the locks on the legs once you put it in position.

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