Tripod Buying Guide
Choosing A Tripod
When observing through a binocular or telescope, the observed object is magnified along with any vibrations or tremors caused from the shaking of the fingers or hands, or by tripod instability. The resulting unstable image places serious limitations on optical performance with a loss in image resolution and the possibility of eye strain or headaches. This problem intensifies with increasing magnification and a stabilizing apparatus, like a tripod, is almost always necessary when viewing at powers higher than 15X.
Many binoculars have a tripod socket at their center hinge for attachment with a binocular/tripod adapter. Specially designed saddle mounts are available to stabilize a binocular of any size or configuration to a tripod. All spotting scopes come equipped with some type of mount that allows it to be adapted to a standard camera tripod or similar device, like a car window mount or shoulder brace.
If there were such a thing as a perfect tripod, it would be lightweight, rigid, strong, conveniently portable, easy to set up, inexpensive and tall enough for comfortable viewing. Like everything else, some compromises have to be made in these areas, but there are some general features to look for in a tripod and some specific ones that make good platforms for visual observation.
Don't overlook the importance of a smoothly functioning and stable tripod as an essential piece of equipment for high power or long distance nature observation. The investment in a quality platform can be just as rewarding as the one made for a precision optical instrument.
Thanks to our friends at Eagle Optics for providing this information!