Yr. Humble Author, photographing with a tripod mounted camera.
Fort Worden, Washington (Photo by Brooks Jensen)
A few weeks ago some of my photo buds and I got into an email exchange on the necessity of tripods If you have image stabilization on lenses and camera bodies with sensors that can record very fine images with an EI of 6,000 and software that can remove “grain,” why do you need something to mechanically support your camera? Good question. I still use a tripod, because it just doesn’t seem like photography without a tripod. I can't seem to get away from thirty years of using a view camera on a tripod. Consideration of the scene and composition before snapping the shutter just seems to be a more complete way to determine a composition and the tripod helps me do just that.
I have a few more reasons to continue using a tripod. It forces me to think more about composition and affords me the luxury of being able to really “work the edges” of a composition. When I was using a view camera I didn't care about exposure time (other than reciprocity), I knew I had a stable platform (my long gone Zone VI standard tripod). My motto was not f/8 and be there, but f/32 and be there an hour early. (That’s a view camera joke. If you used a view camera, you know how funny/true that is.)
My tripod is also a big help with panoramic images, focus stacking and HDR exposures, three techniques I frequently employ. I know photoshop can auto-align layers and such but I like to know I haven’t “lost the edges” by moving the camera between multiple exposures.
We came to the conclusion that technology has made tripods pretty much obsolete, and that may be true for some, but I don’t know if I will ever give up my tripod completely. Technology has made tripods optional, so now rather than being a mandatory for photography it becomes optional. Having more options available is always a very good thing.