In my post yesterday, I neglected to mention the importance of having your camera in a solid position. This is so important when you want to get the sharpest image possible. Much has been said about the cameras and lenses that have some kind of image stabilization. That feature has been a boon to photography. However, this feature cannot be taken for granted. It will stablize the image, but not freeze it.
Image stabilization, called differently by each camera brand, can be beneficial when hand-holding your camera in low light, or when no tripod is available. But even then you must still be sure that you don’t move the camera too much. It will not freeze an object that is moving. It will not help if the wind is blowing the trees and bushes.
I use a Manfrotto tripod and Wimberley gimbal tripod head for my heavy Canon 500mm lens. When in my car, I can use a Puffin Pad foam support that fits on the window. A bean bag will work also. When using my Canon 100-400mm zoom lens, I usually hand hold it, unless I am sitting in a blind. Then of course, I can get comfortable and put it on a tripod. It has IS (image stabilization), and does a fine job of getting sharp images, and using fast shutter speeds help even more.
There are two popular types of tripod heads available, besides my Wimberley gimbal. They are the ball-head and the panhead. There are pros and cons for each. A ball head has only one know to adjust. You can put the camera in any position and lock it down. The one that I tried seemed to slip and sag after I locked it down. Maybe I got a cheap one. The panhead uses three different knobs, and for me the one I have and still use, seems pretty solid. I feel it is easier to pan with it, too. I loosen the knob just a smidge to allow me to smoothly pan left to right – or the other way, too. 🙂
There are many gimmicks available for sale, too. One that sells for around 20.00 is a cord about 5 feet long with a loop on one end. The other end you attach to the ring under your camera. You put your foot in the loop and hold the camera with a little upward pressure, and you get a stable shot. I saved 20.00 and put an old dog leash in my bag. Great for emergencies.
Anyway, no matter how you do it, the point is to make sure your camera is stable in any photographic situation.