This is why you need an extra tall tripod in your equipment bag

Nov 21, 2022

Neil van Niekerk

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

This is why you need an extra tall tripod in your equipment bag

Nov 21, 2022

Neil van Niekerk

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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This is why you need an extra tall tripod

We all started out with a lightweight tripod as our very first tripod. Most likely, then, after several uses and budget allowing, you upgraded to a much sturdier tripod. If you’ve ever struggled with a lightweight tripod, you know exactly why. And then the occasion strikes where you realize, at times, you also need a really tall tripod.

Then the options become fewer. It’s that intersect between affordable, robust, easy to carry … and really tall. Nothing else will suffice. For this kind of situation, I got the Robus RC-0888 carbon fiber tripod.

This timelapse video shows what went into the taking of a big group photo on the day.

This timelapse video shows what went into the taking of a big group photo on the day.

Portable studio lighting – all Profoto, of course, a ladder, and a very tall tripod were part of the setup to make this photo work. We carefully positioned people in the frame, and since I shot (wirelessly) tethered to the laptop, the images could immediately be viewed by my client. I used the Camranger 2 for this. Shooting wirelessly tethered made it easier for my client to see the results and then change people’s positioning and posing to make sure we get the photographs my client wanted.

I used the Sony A1 for the very high resolution.

A really tall tripod – the Robus RC-0888

This is why you need an extra tall tripod

If you’re looking for a really tall tripod, do check out the specs as listed on B&H’s site. For a tripod that’s tall enough that I can stand under it when it is fully extended, the Robus RC-0888 carbon fiber tripod is surprisingly lightweight and relatively compact. And yet, sturdy. Just what I needed for scenarios, as shown in the timelapse clip above. Highly recommended.

As the basic ball head for this tripod, I matched it with the Robus RTH-1050 Tripod Ball Head. It has a similar feel of quality as the tripod.

Other accessories for this tripod

A ball-head camera mount for the tripod can be problematic if you are trying to make small adjustments in the Roll and Tilt of the camera’s position. The camera and lens can be too top-heavy and make adjustments awkward. For this, you need a leveler or leveling base of some kind.

A boom arm for the tripod

Another accessory for the tripod, in fact, any tripod that you use in the studio, is some kind of boom arm to be attached to the top. I use the Sirui tripod boom arm.

This photo shows where it is used – to give an overhead view of something. In this case, an item on the still life/product table. The boom arm allows the camera to have a fixed view from above. Usually perpendicular. It is also useful if you do copying works of art or documents.

This is why you need an extra tall tripod

This client wanted an “exploded view” of the bicycle range he is selling in his store. We needed that high view from above that the tripod allows, as well as the boom arm, to shoot from nearly vertically above.

This client wanted an “exploded view” of the bicycle range he is selling in his store. We needed that high view from above that the tripod allows, as well as the boom arm to shoot from nearly vertically above.

More examples of using this very tall tripod

In the photo below, we needed an elevated view in the studio, photographing fishing lures spread out. A 35mm tilt-shift lens helped bring the forefront and back items sharply in focus without having to rely on really small apertures where diffraction becomes a problem, and you still don’t have enough depth-of-field. I find tilt-shift lenses to be invaluable for some kinds of work.

This is why you need an extra tall tripod

Tilt-shift lenses are also used to avoid perspective distortion – the kind of visual distortion that you see when you shoot upwards (or downwards) with a wide-angle lens. That kind of perspective distortion can be avoided by shooting with the camera leveled out horizontally (and vertically). But that also means you need an elevated view. In the image below, I had to photograph this warehouse. I did have a 17mm tilt-shift lens as well as a 24mm tilt-shift lens with me, but they need a more thoughtful and exact handling to give the best results.

The other option that worked well here was to use that very tall tripod and minimize how much the camera is tilted upwards – which minimized the amount of perspective correction needed to be applied to the RAW file in post-processing.

About the Author

Neil van Niekerk is a photographer based in New Jersey, USA. He runs a headshot studio in Fairfield, NJ. You can see more of his work on his website. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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7 responses to “This is why you need an extra tall tripod in your equipment bag”

  1. Chris Avatar
    Chris

    If you also have to use a ladder, why not just use a universal clamp at the top of the ladder?

  2. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    Not really practical for long hike.

  3. Tunes Firwood Avatar
    Tunes Firwood

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002761957269.html

    Or just get an extension for your centre column.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Just for that extra wobbliness?

  4. Mike Downey Avatar
    Mike Downey

    Just be careful your camera is properly secured on the tripod. I have a very tall Manfrotto and watched my Olympus camera and 40-150 f2.8 lens hit the grass one time… it wasn’t damaged, fortunately. I hate Manfrotto tripod heads.

  5. Éric Senterre Avatar
    Éric Senterre

    This guy is very small !

  6. Matt Owen Avatar
    Matt Owen

    I use a c stand with a ball head. It will reach 11 feet if I need it, and the boom arm is built in.