Well, there are long exposures, of course. And situations where you may want to include yourself in a group shot. Focus stacking. Macros. When you’re feeling contemplative, and want to get the framing juuuuuust right. I bet there are others I can’t think of right now.
A tripod is always a compromise... Weight-Price-Stability are factors which always compete. However, let it be said, "A combination: lightweight, cheap and stable tripod is only a dream"
However, it is amazing the image quality which can be achieved with less expensive lenses (such as kit lenses) when the camera is tripod mounted and the image shot at f/8 or so!
Tripods? A mainstay of photography. If you plan to improve the depth and breadth of your photography, a tripod is necessary.
A portable, stationary camera platform will always become beneficial for a given shooting situation, as already mentioned above.
As Richard states, all tripods are a matter of compromise....there is no one tripod for every given situation. And it depends on your budget and scope of photography.
I have gone through about a dozen tripods in the past 5 years from small cheap desktop models to large older metal studio beasts. And I've concluded I need at least 4 kinds of tripods to suit my personal needs. A small convenient foldable desktop model, a lightweight and small travel tripod that is approved for carry-on, an intermediate sized model for most occasions and a very large and heavy model for stability in order to shoot astro with a heavy 500mm f/4.5 refractor tele.
What you shoot and plan to shoot will dictate what your needs are. If you don't have one, I suggest starting with an intermediate sized model like a Manfrotto 190 or 294. Lot's of affordable brands now in this size range. Even in affordable Chinese-made CF.
Depends. If your trip is specifically for photography. Most my trips nowadays includes family in-tow, so I have no time for purpose-driven set-up shots with a full-sized tripod. I either rely on a Joby gorilla pod, mini-tripod or mostly in-camera stabilization.
Guess, we learn, like Always on Auto, been using the same huge Bogen for 20 years...not for street stuff...I bought it for a 4x5 and use it for the wee ones too...thing is a PIA to lug around, so put one of those table top jobbies in bag...still, do not know what I would do without it...as WNG implies, cannot shoot without it, PIA it is.
Just wondered how others do...? Came to mind and asked!
I feel like I’m well-served by my current pair of a tabletop and a lightweight travel tripod with a ball head (both Manfrotto). Sure, the travel tri will wobble some unweighted in a stiff wind, and the tabletop can’t handle a heavy lens out in front, but these are both minor issues for me and easily worked around. They’re light and small enough that I don’t mind having either or both in my day bag, set up quickly and are easy enough to deploy that I don’t give up on catching a quick roadside landscape because “it’ll take too long to set up”. The only thing I might add is a quick release plate on each so I can leave my Peak Design plate on both bodies and speed up the process even more.
I have several tripods which vary greatly in size, weight and of course stability. The two tripods that I most often use are a full size Giottos Carbon Fiber model with a Giottos ball head. This is a large and substantial pod that has no trouble supporting any load that I place on it. About my heaviest load is a Canon 6D2 with 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS ii lens. One great advantage to this tripod besides stability is that it can articulate; placing my camera/lens in just about any position that I choose. That is very handy, especially for close-up and macro photography. The downside of this tripod is that it is fairly heavy, despite being of carbon fiber construction.
I pair the Giottos with a modified Slik 350D which is lighter in weight, smaller and, while not as solid as the Giottos, does a pretty darn good job keeping my camera steady. I will sometimes travel with this tripod because it is extremely light weight because I have switched the OEM head with a Flashpoint F-1 ball head and substituted a shorter center column for the original...
I also have a very small German tripod which is a bit larger than a table-top model, yet is extremely lightweight and small to carry...
Another camera stabilizer that I frequently travel with is a bean-bag made from a small length of denim cut from the leg of a pair of jeans. It is sewn closed at one end and has Velcro closure at the other end. If I am flying, I will empty the bean-bag and then fill it with rice or beans at my destination which saves quite a bit of weight.
I also have two monopods, again one more solid than the other. I have found that in many cases, the monopod + IS or OSS in the lens will provide the stability that I need for many shots...
Those old Bogens were over-engineered and built like tanks! And they are a great value on the used market if you know what you're looking for. Most of my tripods have been scooping up these Bogen-Manfrotto aluminum units at a bargain on ebay and craigslist. I have 3 with geared center columns, and a later model 475B that was a steal for under $50! But the last purchase was probably the best deal, a Manfrotto CF video tripod with a 75mm bowl head. $25 + $50 shipping. It was still worth it. Light, large and sets up at eye level without the center column.
The others are an old 055 series, the 294 with panning head, a 190D w/ Manfrotto joystick ball head ($23 shipped!), several self-standing Manfrotto aluminum monopods, a Manfrotto CF monopod, and a small Manfrotto compact series travel tripod with pistol ball head.
I guess I trust the older Manfrotto products. Only two travel tripods (a CF and an aluminum) are not made by Manfrotto.
For me, WNG, you are correct. Way over-kill, but am too cheap to buy more proportional version...you're correct, "like a tank" and just as unwieldy...IMO. Thing must weight 4 lbs or so.
Oh yeah, just found a walking stick I made out of old, titanium golf shaft and screwed a ball head on to it...frankly never really used it, but might give it a go later on. Just a ti shaft, with tungsten spike epoxied in end, with couple grips (one inverted) on top-end...handy for hiking etc.