Happy Memorial Day! A basic ball head conveniently screws straight into the tripod socket thread on the base of a camera. Of course if you are out taking pictures of various scenes and people all day, you may need to do a couple portraits on the tripod, then a few awkward shots by hand, and then a horizon shot using the tripod. Each time you must unscrew the camera from the head, then screw it back in again. Wouldn’t it be nice if it just snapped off and on, somehow?
With a quick-release plate, you can detach the camera by flicking a lever, then snap it back onto the tripod head to re-attach it. Some quick-release plates use screws with coin slots to connect, but I prefer to have a butterfly nut that I can tighten with my bare hands.
I’ve mentioned that the legs of a tripod typically come in 3-5 sections, but which is better? This depends upon how you are using the tripod and where your priorities lie. It is true that tripods with 5 section legs fold down smaller for carrying around. But when extended, 5 section legs may be more unstable than 3 section legs.
This is why you need to get a feel for the tripod that you like (or one similar), in your favorite camera store, before buying! I generally like to physically shop around until I find a few I like, then go online to find the right price.
Until next time, Happy Shuttering!