There is no question that I sometimes love and hate tripods and I admit . . . it’s mostly hate. Well, I should say it has been mostly hate up until recently. I even pride myself on the reputation that I’ve built up over the years at photo workshops. At first the instructors work very hard at convincing me that I MUST use a tripod. They preach endlessly about the importance of using one until finally they realize that they are wasting their breath. Not only am I stubborn and will continue to stick to all my reasons why I don’t like using them, but in the end my creative photos almost make them re-think their own strict rules on using what I refer to as “creativity stifling devices.” Pretty soon I became known as the “rogue photographer” and although the jokes were many, the preaching has since stopped. I proved that I can handle hand holding a camera.
Just to be clear, my flat out refusal to use a tripod doesn’t apply to conditions that truly warrant needing one, i.e., shooting a long exposure. There is a time and place for everything and when the real need arises I would comply and use the proper tools, but I can’t remember a time when I was happy about doing it. Seems there is also a bit of grumbling and maybe even sometimes cursing. Then there was that one time when tears where actually involved – when my heavy 70-200mm pivoted on the ball head and came crashing down nearly breaking my finger that got crushed between the lens and the tripod. That illustrates a typical day using a tripod for me.
I also felt that using a tripod was work, too much work in fact to enjoy taking the photos. And when taking photos feels like “work” I quickly lose interest. This is why I was so surprised and delighted when I discovered a tripod that I didn’t dread using. This year I bought a new travel tripod for a recent trip overseas. I guess you can say that I downgraded from a Manfrotto to a MeFoto. The darn thing was just too cute to pass up. It came in a variety of beautiful anodized colors and packed into the smallest tripod bag I ever saw (just over a foot). The most brilliant part of this design over my old travel Manfrotto is the fact that the legs fold up backwards so you no longer have the big bulky head sticking out beyond the length of the collapsed legs. I have a hard time believing that it took tripod manufacturers this long to come up with that brilliant idea.
The other thing that I love about this tripod is how buttery smooth the ball head is. Now please keep in mind that I’m not upgrading from a cheap no-name tripod. I had been using a carbon fiber Manfrotto and the smoothness of this ball head blows away my sticky Manfrotto. I think that aspect alone is why I always disliked using tripods. It was always a struggle for me to get the adjustment just right. I would loosen the head and either push too much or not enough. That problem is gone with the MeFoto.
It’s got all sorts of cool features like different leg angle positions and 360 panning, but the thing that excites me the most is the fact that I can put my hand over all four extension tubes at once and in one single twist of my wrist either loosen them all up or tighten them all back down. These tubes are similar to the Gitzo style tripod and very different from the individual levers on my old Manfrotto. I have 4 sections on three legs that need to be loosened and then tightened with every use. You do the math. That’s a lot of time wasted pulling open and pushing closed levers.
I didn’t think there was a tripod out there that could make me less cranky when using it, but this cute little number seemed to do the trick. I just might have to find some good excuses to take more long exposure photos. The MeFoto is “approved by A-pro.”