As I try not to look like a hobo, I have to consider each piece of gear carefully - and the one I struggle with on each cruise is whether to take my tripod. If I take it, it is a smaller, carbon fiber Gitzo GT2541 with a PhotoClam ballhead. That adds 4 pounds to my suitcase, but the combination will hold 26 pounds of camera and lens.
The question today is whether I need a tripod at all. New digital cameras have become so incredibly sensitive to light that photos can be taken in all but utter darkness. A few alternatives to a tripod these days include:
- Cranking up the ISO setting on my camera - time was that the highest setting was 800 and the results were terrible. Now cameras are pushing 12800 with results at 1600 and 3200 that are very clean! With settings like this it is possible to take pictures in near darkness.
- Use a fast lens. On an SLR that means something like a 50mm f/1.4 or a 70-200 f/2.8 zoom. On a compact camera, where you are limited to the lens that is bolted on to the front, not zooming to full magnification will often give you more light to work with. This is because many lenses reduce the amount of light they gather the more you zoom in on something.
- Brace yourself. Cruise ships are ideal for this as there are railings everywhere! Brace your camera on a railing, point it in the general direction you want, select a high ISO and wide angle, shoot and check the results - repeat until you are happy with your image.
- Try a monopod like a carbon fiber Benro MC-66n6 which, when braced against an immovable object, can be a reasonable facsimile of a tripod without taking as much space in your suitcase or weighing as much.
I am working on these alternatives as much as possible (the photo in this article was taken braced against a hotel window early in the early morning in Anchorage). Still, I find it hard to leave my tripod at home. So, come to one of our seminars - if I look like a hobo, it means I brought my tripod!