A decent tripod is one of the best investments you can make as a photographer and there are numerous good reasons why this is so. For starters you’ll be able to take sharper pictures in general; not only at slower shutter speeds as you might expect, but also at faster speeds that are usually (and correctly) considered perfectly safe to shoot hand-held at.
Just as importantly, having a tripod to hand will allow you to choose from the full aperture range offered by the lens you are using, including its so-called ‘sweet spot’ (often around f/8) where it’ll deliver optimal sharpness across the whole frame. Furthermore, if available light is in short supply then having a tripod to hand also means you’ll no longer have to resort to throwing the aperture wide open (or cranking up the ISO) in order to get the sharpest shot possible – assuming you’re shooting a stationary subject, that is.
And, of course, there are other benefits too. As well as taking sharper pictures and having more control over depth of field, a tripod will also allow you to experiment with all kinds of creative techniques such as long-exposure, multiple-exposure and even time-lapse photography.
The biggest single consideration when looking for your ideal tripod is finding one with the right balance between strength and durability and weight and portability. After all, there’s not much point in buying a tripod that offers tank-like construction if it means you never take it out because it’s too heavy, whereas similarly there’s no point in buying something so lightweight and flimsy that it can’t support the weight of your camera and/or just blows over at the merest hint of a breeze.
The Manfrotto MKC3-H01 we have here is essentially a travel tripod, which means it’s geared much more towards portability than strength. That said, given that it has a claimed maximum load capacity of 1.5kg we’d expect it to be sturdy enough to support a mid-weight DSLR and zoom lens, while packing down into something small and light enough to be carried around all day. Let’s take a closer look and find out if that is indeed the case.