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Tripods are essential in photography. Tripods basically allows us to use any shutter speed we want for creative purposes. If you want to see this in practice you can see my experiment here (I checked a lens with 560mm focal length to see which slowest shutter speed can be enough on a tripod, each halving of shutter speed means one stop iso gain, instead iso 1600, iso 800, and so on). Tripods are mostly used in landscape, astro, macro, and wildlife photography. You can see even from this list that tripods are how widely used in all genres of photography.
Tripods are made basically from two materials: metal or carbon. The metal can be steel alu or some kind of alloy. Carbon tripods are lighter but usually are much ore expensive.
This can have different aspects. First what we want to do with the tripod, second what a tripod can do, and cannot do. The first aspect is that we want a light tripod for hiking, a big, heavy tripod for more stability, or a tripod can be fixed in low position for macro, how many sections the tripod has. The second functionality is what a tripod can do (there are some overlap with the first funcionality though): does the legs can be fixed in many different angles and heights, the center column can be reversed, or not, how high and low can be fixed.
Leg fixing mechanism
The legs can be fixed by clips or by twisting them.
There are different tripod heads for different purposes.
-Gimbal heads – mostly used for big heavy telephoto lenses
-special heads, like the for example
Important to know that most tripods use the same thread meaning you can use any head with any tripod regardless of manufacturer. But I suggest to check it the one you choose before buy.
There are many tripod manufacturers
There are monopods as will with just one leg. Obviously the monopod is lighter, and more portrable, but has not the same functionality. Monopods are mostly used for long, heavy lenses as a support.