Carrying a tripod while traveling for photography can be daunting, especially if you need to trek around a bit.
It’s easy to stroll around with your camera in hand and use your camera’s built-in image stabilization feature in situations like that. It allows you to capture steady pictures, but it just can’t outperform a simple tripod.
Despite trying your best to keep your camera steady, your photos might still be blurry if you do not use a tripod.
But, there are alternatives! Some of those alternatives provide you with similar stability as a tripod does, but they come in handy in terms of usability and ease of carrying. This article will discuss the five best alternatives to using a tripod for photographers and some tips & tricks for using them.
A monopod is a one-legged camera support, and at times, they are even more useful than a traditional tripod. It’s easier to carry as it’s not as bulky as a tripod, takes less time to set up, and comes with several sections that you can easily fold down to make it even more compact.
They don’t cost as much either. If you are a sports photographer, wildlife photographer, or even a journalist, a monopod can be of great use for you. My advice is to use a carbon fiber monopod to keep the weight down and look for one that has three or four foldable sections.
You can mount your camera onto a monopod or use a tripod head for that purpose. You can also use ball heads or uniquely designed heads for monopods that provide you with quick camera repositioning. Remember that some monopods might not extend to the height you need, so make sure you check the manufacturer’s specs to make sure it can extend to the desired height.
Some monopods even convert into a walking stick – perfect for when you’re going on a hike and don’t want to carry both a monopod and a walking stick. In adventure photography, any piece of gear that has a dual-purpose is great to have in our book.
Beanbag or Sandbag
There are times when you only need to stabilize your lens and camera because height is not a requirement. In such cases, you don’t need any mechanical device to rest your camera on, and that’s where sandbags or beanbags come in.
Some of the bags can be emptied, and you can carry them in your camera bag, and some of them come with fill. For example, the Novoflex Beanbag is shipped empty, and you can fill it with sand, rice, buckwheat, other beans, or any other things that you find suitable in the field. The SafariSack is another great option.
If you are a bird photographer or a wildlife photographer, beanbags or sandbags can be the perfect tripod alternative for you. Some beanbags even come with hook up plate accessories as an addition that can mount a gimbal head on top. I recommend choosing a beanbag that can be emptied while trekking or traveling because it’s easy to roam about with less weight.
It will keep you from all the hassle of setting up, especially at lower angles. All you need to do is place your camera on the bag and capture photos with a stable and steady environment.
Gorilla pod is one of the most efficient and effective tripod alternatives. Yes, yes, I hear you say that it’s essentially a tripod. But, it has flexible legs and is light enough to fit into the places where traditional tripods can’t be placed. Joby gorilla pod is the most famous gorilla pod brand by far, and its standard product weighs only about 400 grams.
It provides classic support with its flexible legs that you can manipulate to attach to many places such as light fittings, branches, lampposts, etc. You can also place it on a tree, uneven surfaces, fix it around a rod, or anything that you come across while you’re out shooting. The largest Gorilla Pod can support up to 5 kilograms of weight, and its ball-head ensures both versatility and security.
If you have a camera and lens setup (say a heavy telephoto lens) that weighs more than five kilograms, then using a gorilla pod is not advisable. It is the only disadvantage of this tripod alternative, but you can always opt for this list’s other options. At the same time, it is the best tripod alternative for people with a light camera setup because of its extremely portable and compact design.
Sometimes you may not be able to get out of your car to capture photos because of overcast weather conditions or rain. The best solution is to use a window mount that allows you to fix your camera while staying undercover for those situations. Traditionally, window camera mounts come with rubber pads and a panning head to keep both your camera and vehicle from any potential damage.
Moreover, if your camera setup is heavy, you can use those window mounts that straddle the car’s door. All you need to do is roll down your car door’s windows and attach it to the door frame. It keeps your window glass from any damage and provides you with stability to capture sharp and quality photos. Have a look at the Oben Car Window Mount, it’s a simple and inexpensive alternative to other options out there.expensive option.
Your Body & the Environment
All the alternatives mentioned above include something that you need to carry and place in your bag before going for a photography hunt. But what if you are on the field without a tripod or any of those alternatives. In that case, you can use your own body and environment to stabilize your camera. You heard it right, and it works because sometimes the best solution is the simplest one.
Using Your Body
Using your body for that purpose isn’t complicated, and all you need to do is grip your camera from your left hand. You can do it by grabbing the lens or placing your hand underneath the camera body and stabilizing your body against a tree or a wall.
Moreover, your overall posture also plays a significant role, and tucking your arms into your body and keeping your camera closer to the torso also helps you stabilize your camera.
Using the Environment
On the other hand, you can easily find any object with a flat surface such as a bricks stack, tree stump, bench, etc. You can also use the strap of your camera by wrapping it around your hand or arm. This technique works best if you are taking photos with a somewhat slow shutter speed. Using the environment as an alternative to a tripod is just as effective as using a tripod. Make sure to place a soft cloth underneath your camera to avoid damage.
Before you opt for any of these alternatives to a tripod, make sure that you know the weight of your camera and lens. Simply take your camera body and your heaviest lens and weigh them. It will allow you to figure out the most suitable option for you that meets all of your unique needs.
I hope this article will enable you to capture more stable, sharp, and high-quality photos next time you go out on your photography hunt.