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I am looking into use cases where the use of a tripod is very effective or necessary.

Though in theory every possible shot can be taken with the help of tripod, in real life I do not think that is feasible and some tend to use a tripod in some shots and not in others.

So are there any specific cases where use of a tripod is always recommended? I am particularly interested with respect to landscape, macro and portrait photography.

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

There are any number of times where you need a tripod:

  1. Where the camera needs to be operated remotely. For example were you want to include yourself in the shot (self portraits), or you are photographing sensitive wildlife and your presence would disturb the animals.
  2. Where you need to use a long exposure time. For photography at night or in other low light level environments where you can't hold the camera still enough for long enough.
  3. Where you need to keep the camera in exactly the same position. For example, in time lapse or HDR photography.
  4. Where you have a heavy lens (e.g. large telephoto). You often see sports photographers using a tripod.

Basically it comes down to the times you need to keep the camera in the same location for a long time, either for the single exposure or for multiple exposures then a tripod is pretty much essential.

In other cases where you just need additional support (say telephoto photography on a windy day) then a monopod might be enough additional support.

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You could argue that it's best to use a tripod whenever you can. There are few shots that don't benefit from the camera being on a steady tripod. – ElendilTheTall Jul 17 '12 at 12:46
Thanks for providing detailed answer as it gave me an over all good overview – Umesh Awasthi Jul 17 '12 at 16:56
@Elendil: I disagree. For some type of shooting you definitely don't want a tripod. A tripod, like just about anything, is a tradeoff. The advantages are obvious, and Chris has listed several cases where they outweigh the disadvantages. But there are disadvantages too, like a camera+tripod is much heavier, bulkier, less manuverable, cumbersome in flipping between vertical and horizontal, needs adjustment on uneven terrain, etc. Anytime you need to be quick and unobtrusive, a tripod is a hinderance. Candids with a tripod is difficult, for example. – Olin Lathrop Jul 18 '12 at 23:23
Indeed - hence whenever you can. If you can't use one because you need to be mobile or unobtrusive, fine. But if you have time and space, it's almost always worth using one, especially with longer lenses. – ElendilTheTall Jul 19 '12 at 8:13

A couple more instances:

  • HDR (shooting bracketed photos)
  • Panoramas
  • Tripods are often helpful for setting up and envisioning composition (giving you a chance to think about what you're doing)
  • Self portraits
  • Macro photography benefits from tripod mounting because of the extremely narrow DOF found in this sort of photography.

In the case of both panoramas and macro photography, additional tools may be employed to help tripods copy better with the specialized demands of these types of photography, but beginners in both areas will find tripods a must-have.

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