New cameras are changing every year, introducing new technology that allows photographers to take sharper images than ever before. Just recently we saw Olympus debut the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, which allows photographers to shoot handheld for 2secs without camera shake.
So in this new age of high-tech image stabilisation, is the tried and tested tripod still a necessity in the photographer’s kit bag? We spoke to Paul Hill, Category Manager at Manfrotto UK, to see how the role of tripods has changed and where their development will go.
There are lots of tripods available these days and quality seems to keep going up. How does Manfrotto plan to stay ahead of the competition?
There certainly are! In many ways, very little has changed: we still keep the customer at the heart of what we do. We capture a lot of detail when it comes to customer feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
This is all fed into our R&D teams as we continue to drive improvement. We are lucky that we have so many photographers using our kit in so many environments and purposes across the world which means that we can continue to learn.
It doesn’t just stop there, though. Our R&D teams test our equipment extensively and set themselves rigorous high standards.
This drives innovation and refinement that I hope is evident in our products.
Do CSC users still need a tripod? With image stabilisation how has the role of the tripod changed?
Cameras change and new technology continues to evolve but we are still trying to capture nature. Things move, often you need to convey this movement.
There are plenty of times when a tripod is not needed but you will never capture a 30 second exposure with inbuilt image stabilisation.
Likewise, macro photography without a support becomes difficult. Tripods allow you to set composition and focus on other artistic elements.
Indeed, the advent of Live view and tethering are boosted by the use of a tripod.
How much further can tripod development go?
There will always be refinements and innovations that will be possible. Materials will continue to improve and requirements will no doubt change.
That said, some products in our range have been there for decades and continue to perform.
With cameras getting smaller and lighter, how has this affected tripod design?
It certainly expands the choice on offer. We have recently launched the Befree Live for example.
If smaller cameras that record high quality video had not been produced, then this product may not have been realised. That said, demand for more traditional supports remain strong.
Tell us again why Manfrotto/Gitzo’s carbon fibre is better than everyone else’s.
As before, our customer insight and R&D expertise allows us to be able to specify exactly what we require.
It’s these high standards that means that the best products have the best materials. For example, A 190/055 Carbon tripod uses 100% carbon fibre in the tube materials (something our competitors don’t do) and in Gitzo, we have recently completed the switchover to Carbon eXact.
This is High Modulus carbon fibre which is thinner-walled and stiffer than anything we have had before. It means that each leg tube can be wider and the smallest leg section is much better.
From our old series 1 Traveler to our current one, the bottom leg section is 50% wider, this has a massive impact upon stability.
While this is all the technical detail, what really matters is that customers again and again tell us that they can only rely on our products to keep their camera equipment stable for capturing exceptional images.