If you’ve ever looked at any of my previous blog posts you will know I wax lyrical about the importance of getting a good tripod setup for interior photography. In this post I’m going to go through my tripod setup for interior photography and the reasons why I have chosen it.
Before getting any specialist interior photography equipment, a solid tripod would be one of the first things on my shopping list for these reasons:
Reasons to use a tripod for interior photography
1. Keep your camera position constant!
Doing this enables me to leave my camera where it is and make adjustments in the scene without having to keep resetting my camera.
For interior photography, where you may move a single chair 15 times before you’re happy, this can be a life saver!
2. Improve your image quality
For most of your shots, you’re going to want to be at an aperture of around f8-f11 to get that full depth of field in your scene.
This is going to mean a slower shutter speed and higher iso.
In order to get the best quality image, you want to keep your iso in the 50-200 range, depending on your camera, which will mean having to have your camera on a tripod to achieve the desired exposure
3. Using your tripod for low light scenes
Having a tripod allows you to eliminate any camera shake when using a longer shutter speed, which will be needed for low light scenes. Anything below 1/60th of a second and I’m sticking my camera on a tripod!
If you’re not tethering, using something like a remote, or setting your camera on a timer, will help ensure your camera is perfectly still when the shutter fires.
If you want some more tips on keeping your camera steady, check out this post.
How to choose a tripod for interior photography
Before getting your first tripod for interior photography, it is important to understand that many tripods – especially the heads – are unique to a certain style of photography.
In order to get the best tripod for interior photography, it is wise to have a little think about which of the following points are most important to you and the way you work:
You’re going to want a tripod which is comfortable enough to move around easily between projects.
Take it from someone who has tried to carry a studio tripod around a few shoots: you will want to be looking at carbon fibre – this will make it a little bit more expensive, but it is well worth it.
And ideally, it’s important to get a set of legs which can support around 1.5 times more than your maximum payload.
Bear in mind, if you’re using things like tilt shift lenses, you’ve got an awful lot of glass on the front of your camera which needs supporting correctly.
The maximum height a tripod will go to will differ massively between different models of tripods.
Most brands offer a 3 and a 4 leg version of each tripod, which give you the option of going shorter or taller for different jobs.
Get the tallest set you can – it’s much easier to get a smaller set of step ladders to get up to the height of your tripod than try and balance your tripod on top of some boxes to try and get that extra bit of height you need (we’ve all been there).
On a personal level, I don’t like using a centre column with my tripods. It’s just something else which can wobble around when the shutter is open.
The last thing to look out for is how long your tripod is going to last.
If looked after, a good tripod should outlive your photographic career.
So, although it may look like a relatively expensive purchase now, if you balance that out over thirty years it suddenly becomes a very small investment, especially when you consider the value of the camera it’s supporting.
Again, my choice would be carbon fibre. I’ve had no issues with any of mine, whereas the aluminium counterparts often get dented fairly easily – which makes sliding the legs in and out a right pain!
My interior photography tripod
Onto the main event – this is my current setup for interior photography:
It’s a bit of a mish-mash of components:
My tripod legs for interior photography
The legs are Benro 3770TN, which have been the best legs I’ve ever used.
They take a maximum load of 18kg, which is far more than I need. They close down to 14cm and extend up to 150cm, which – for 90% of my jobs – is more than enough.
One of my favourite things is the swivel lock leg system. It makes releasing the legs an easy task using only one hand, which is a massive bonus while trying to balance other bits of kit.
Another bonus is that it has interchangeable feet, so if you’ve got a job outside for which you need spikes to go into the ground for stability, it’s just a 2 minute job to change them over. Then once you’re done, you can swap back to rubber feet for interior work.
As I mentioned above, I use this without a centre column and it has a handy hook underneath the top plate. So, if you want to weigh the tripod down even more, you can attach a bag or sandbag underneath for extra stability.
My tripod head for interior photography
The tripod head I use is a Sunwayfoto geared head. It’s miles cheaper than the equivalent Arca Swiss head. I’ve had mine for a couple of years now and it’s been spot on.
I use a geared head as it allows me to make very fine adjustments which you can’t get with other tripod heads.
Getting your camera level on the tripod is vital, especially if you’re using specialist lenses such as tilt shift lenses, and a geared head is the best way to do this.
My quick release tripod plate for interior photography
Although usually only an afterthought, the quick release plate you use can make your life so much easier and is a purchase you only have to make once.
I use the Three Legged Thing QR7 Plate. Aside from my personal attraction to shiny orange things (which Tethertools have caught onto), it’s also really light and fits every Arca Swiss base, meaning it can be used across all my tripod heads without having to mess around swapping plates over.
What’s your perfect setup for an interior photography tripod? Pop a comment below if you’ve got any suggestions.