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Is there a standard tripod mount? Is it reasonable to assume that a given tripod will attach successfully to a given camera, or will I have to research my options?

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I would worry about the weight of the camera and what the tripod supports when you are doing research. – dpollitt Dec 8 '11 at 0:18
Thanks for that, I hadn't considered that at all. – dlanod Dec 8 '11 at 4:24
up vote 20 down vote accepted

Yes. The tripod thread is standard: 1/4-20, which means ¼", with 20 threads per inch.

This is specified by ISO 1222:2010. I'm not willing to pay the $57 for my own copy, but I'm kind of curious, as wikipedia says that the current standard also allows 3/8-16 — apparently that's an older mostly-European standard. This is probably old-hat to aficionados of classic field cameras, but was new to me — all of the modern Japanese DSLRs and compacts I've seen use the 1/4-20 thread. 3/8-16 may still be common for larger-format cameras. I checked my grandfather's Voightländer Bessa medium format camera from the 1930s, and it uses 1/4-20. I think it's safe to say that for consumer and mass-market professional cameras, 1/4-20 is universal.

The 3/8-16 standard is in wide use today in photography, though — just not for camera mounts. It's common for lighting gear, including lighting stands and mounts. I have some Manfrotto gear with the reversible studs — basically, camera mount one side, lighting equipment the other way. Also, as Michael Clark notes below, 3/8-16 is typical for connecting tripod heads to the legs.

The other important thing is that almost all modern tripods use a quick-release plate system. There's a small plate which has the tripod thread which screws directly to the camera, and then that snaps into the tripod head using a proprietary-to-each-company attachment. That means that even if your camera would use the less-common thread, you could get a plate that matches — for example, a Gitzo plate which comes with both threads. And adapters between these two threadings are readily available — probably mostly for ease in mixing and matching between camera and lighting support.

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the smaller thread was common on compacts and rangefinders for a long time. – jwenting Dec 8 '11 at 6:00
if it had been, brands like Gorillapod who aim at that market would provide for it as well, and they don't seem to do so (even their entry level model comes only with a 1/4" thread). I do remember getting a converter with my very first tripod purchased in Germany some 25 years ago, but never after (though I did see them in specialty stores for purchase about 10-15 years ago). – jwenting Dec 8 '11 at 12:15
3/8" is larger than 1/4", and is the more or less standard thread for many light modifiers and the also more or less standard thread for tripod legs to tripod head connections. Many digital compacts have a 1/4-20 threaded socket on the bottom. All of the ones I have owned have one. – Michael Clark Jan 10 '15 at 16:37
@MichaelClark Good point — added more about that. – mattdm Jan 10 '15 at 17:11
Note the standard is 1/4-20 UNC screw thread. It seems some old cameras and tripods used BSW (Whitworth) thread. But you are probably not likely to encounter this, except on obscure/historic European cameras. And BSW is pretty close enough to UNC - both are 20 TPI, just a slightly different thread angle. So a UNC bolt will probably fit in a BSW thread, or vice versa. – vclaw Jul 7 '15 at 21:55

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