If you’re just starting out with a tripod, you may not have considered the best way to carry it. Spend some time lugging it around and you’ll soon appreciate a minimalist approach.
My friend Denise is doing more night photography lately, so we ventured out to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom last night to get a little practice. Right off the bat, it was apparent that we had very different strategies for approaching an evening of night photography.
Denise was prepared. She had her tripod in a tripod carry bag and then another bag for her Nikon D800 with two lenses. I took a minimalist approach using only one lens on my Nikon D800 mounted on the ballhead of my tripod, which I carried using a simple tripod strap.
Why do these differences matter? I like to think of it as the number of steps you have to take to get a shot. The first step we encountered was having to stop by the bag search along with forty million other tourists so the Disney Security folks could inspect Denise’s two bags. When I’m alone using the tripod strap, I just walk inside and bypass the bag inspection. No bags, no waiting.
We found our first location and setup to take some shots. That meant she took her tripod out of one bag and a camera out of the other bag. I unclipped a quick release strap. When that shot was done, everything reversed. She put her tripod back in its bag and camera back in another one. I clicked the quick release strap.
While we were shooting, she also had to keep an eye on those bags. There are plenty of other folks around Disney and they really aren’t watching where they’re going, so they’ll step on or trip over those bags on the ground. Just moving her tripod from one spot to another meant moving the bags around, too. More steps.
After a night of going from one scene to another, she was sick of that damn bag. She started carrying her trip in one hand and the bags in the other — fully loaded down.
Why a Tripod Strap is the Best Way to Carry Your Tripod
I use an OP/TECH¤USA Tripod Strap (Black) [B&H Link]. It’s pretty simple. There are quick release clamps for the top by the ballhead and the bottom legs. I never need to release the top quick release, just the bottom ones on the legs.
The strap itself is very comfortable and has a wide pad with some stretch in it to expand the load. There’s no need to take my gear apart when it’s time to move. I just collapse the legs and attach the quick release to the bottom. It’s very secure. I’ve never had any problem with the strap giving out.
Although it could be tempting to sling your tripod over your back like a rifle, I prefer carrying it under my arm and next to my body, with the camera on the ballhead right in front of me. I like to keep an eye on my camera and I also find that the weight distribution works better slung under instead of behind my back.
It’s much easier to swing the tripod out of the way of folks passing near you under your arm. Another advantage I hope you don’t need is to help you stop a fall. It’s only happened to me once, but I lost my footing and was able to avoid smashing my face by quickly putting the tripod out in front of me. Had it been behind my back, it would have been of no help.
The Enchanted Tiki Room
One of our early stops of the evening was in Advertureland at the Enchanted Tiki Room. I’d tell you that this is a crowded place, but come on — every place at Disney World is crowded.
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