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Old May 1st, 2017, 06:52 PM   #1
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Tripod Legs Placement: 2 at front or..?

May be the stupidest question for a while, but I ask them.

Is there a best practice/standard operating procedure when it comes to positioning your tripod legs?

Should I always be looking to have two at the front?

Or is the answer something like "it depends".

I've just started using a new tripod with a spreader, and it's just got me thinking about where legs go. I'm guessing the spreader adds stability, so leg position doesn't matter?

All advice/info much appreciated!
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Old May 1st, 2017, 08:27 PM   #2
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Re: Tripod Legs Placement: 2 at front or..?

I've always oriented the legs so I could stand where I wanted with maximum freedom of movement (for me) without jostling the tripod.
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Old May 1st, 2017, 10:01 PM   #3
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Re: Tripod Legs Placement: 2 at front or..?

Thanks Seth.

+1 for freedom.

Often my freedom to choose is restricted shooting for a regular state level sports client. I often have to adjust tripod leg height to accommodate uneven surfaces or to get the camera's field of view completely beyond the walls of poorly designed "media boxes".

For example, at one of the bigger stadiums I shoot, I film from a seating row in the top deck. Thus I have to extend the front legs to reach the ground on the seating row just below, and adjust the back leg accordingly on my row. I feel the two legs at the front give me much more stability.

At another more "local" ground, I need to push the front two legs upright against the wall below the window from which I'm shooting. I then drop the 3rd leg back to the ground as the supporting pillar for want of a better description. As you might imagine, it makes it a little tricky to get around that 3rd leg. This is done to improve the field of view from a poorly thought out "media box".
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Old May 2nd, 2017, 12:38 AM   #4
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Re: Tripod Legs Placement: 2 at front or..?

My default is to put one leg in front, aligned with the lens, the idea being that if it were going to tip, that's the way it wants to go (toward the weight, usually the front of the cam). Seems to be what most people do.
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Old May 2nd, 2017, 07:52 AM   #5
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Re: Tripod Legs Placement: 2 at front or..?

I've done the "Josh" way, single leg forward under the lens, and I've done the opposite, single leg rear so as to only step over one leg when panning. It just kinda depends on the situation.

But yes, those media boxes are seldom large enough!
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Old May 13th, 2017, 11:38 PM   #6
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Re: Tripod Legs Placement: 2 at front or..?

For chasing aeroplanes and walking the follows around without hanging a toe on a tripod foot, I tend to keep the tripod tall, the footprint narrow and tie the head down to crossed tentpegs in the ground when I can. I also make the spread NOT a perfect triangle but more like a right-angled triangle with a long side for a bit more walk space which means the tie-down needs to be offset or an extra one one used if the balance becomes bit delicate. I have yet to find the best arrangement.
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Old May 17th, 2017, 05:07 PM   #7
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Re: Tripod Legs Placement: 2 at front or..?

I have done a lot of sports work. First, if you are not familiar with the press rules at every venue you may be shooting at be prepared for the day when they tell you tripods are forbidden in the official press boxes. Here in the US and some European venues I have worked at the use of tripods is limited to the official broadcast media crew. If that is not you be prepared to go mono-pod or shoulder only.

If using a spreader is new to you learn to make it useful. It sounds like it can be useful in your situation. In a fixed, level and stable shoot the first thing I do is take the damn thing off so I don't have to deal with it. In crowded situations (were tripod might get bumped) or heavy wind I use them. Depending on tripod make and model they can help with vibrations if deployed properly. After the legs are set use your hands to put a little outward pressure on the spreader bars before locking the spreader bars in place. Using the spreader with outward pressure helps the tripod become more of a solid platform instead of three independent legs. It also reduces vibrations when the tripod gets disturbed. Three floppy bars in the middle of a tripod are doing nothing. That tip does not seem to be well known...it helps.

With all of your variety I'm sure you will also end up using it for its common use of keeping legs in position when you need them to be out of a normal locked position. I have not gone as far as guy wires and tent pegs but I have spiked the feet in place several different ways.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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