One of the essentials for successful macro-photography is a solid tripod, but some are much more suitable for the task than others. So what should you look for in a tripod suited for close-ups? If you’re using a macro lens such as a 50mm or a 100mm to focus within a few centimeters, a tripod with a tilting column will give you the greatest flexibility. But while this enables you to position your camera away from the centre of your tripod, there are other factors to consider.
I don’t know of any tripods that don’t have adjustable leg joints but those with infinitely adjustable legs are easier to set in position. Bear in mind you’re likely to want to carry the tripod, maybe even travel with it. I would advise 4-section legs over 3-section for compactness, but it does add to the price.
Tripods don’t have to be heavy to be stable, they just have to be rigid. You can always add a counterbalance or ballast (such as your camera bag). Tripods made from new materials like Carbon Fibre are both light and rigid, but they are much pricier than the more usual aluminium models. Over the following pages, you’ll find a range of models intended to suit both the needs and budget of the macro-photographer.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for part II and the first of the reviews; the Benbo Trekker Mk 3.