Paul Thomson

Tripod Heads

Paul Thomson
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Duration:   7  mins

If you are a serious landscape photographer, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time searching for a good tripod that suits your needs. But what about the tripod heads, which can be a key to producing the image you see through the camera lens? In this premium video lesson Outdoor Photography Guide’s pro photographer Paul Thomson shows you the features, advantages and benefits of different tripod heads.

Paul compares two popular tripod heads, the ball head and the gear head. For the early part of his career, he used the ball head, advocating its speed and ease of use. When using tripod heads, you want to be able to set the angle accurately. Once you’ve precisely clamped down your tripod legs, rotating the ball head can throw off your angle.

When you are doing micro movements, it can be a tricky maneuver adjusting ball tripod heads. To set up a level composition, Paul would rather not realign his camera. At times, rotating ball tripod heads can be guesswork because you often have to loosen the knob, a wobbly task.

For these reasons, Paul’s preferred tripod head system is the gear head. The gear head system allows you to maintain a level horizon and still move the camera. You can tilt the camera sideways and up & down. Paul sets up a shot that includes rocks covered in lichens. With single up and down movements, he makes adjustments and captures different angles. Whether standing or on your knees, it’s important to achieve a level angle to capture a quality landscape composition. With gear tripod heads, you can take more time refining the composition.

In this premium video lesson Outdoor Photography Guide’s Paul Thomson explains the uses of two different tripod heads: the ball head for speed and the gear head for steadiness. Spend some time with various tripod heads and see what works for you.

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