Tripods and monopods ensure that the images we create are sharp. The sturdy legs and rugged designs offer a stable plat-form for creating virtually any image. There are moments when we want to quickly change the position of the camera, however, and that's where special designs and accessories make the difference.
Tripod Heads The desire to immediately change the orientation of a camera led to the design and popularity of ballheads. By adjusting the tension, the camera can be altered from a horizontal to vertical position with ease. Ballheads like the Manfrotto Pro, Giottos MH-3000 and Slik Ball Head 800 accommodate a wide range of cameras and lenses.
There are other alternatives, such as the Manfrotto Grip Action 322RC2 and Slik AF-2100 ballheads. By depressing the release button, you can quickly change the camera's position, and then by releasing it, immediately create the tension needed for stability. These accessories provide one of the speediest ways to change vertical and horizontal positioning simultaneously.
Quick-Releases Sometimes, it isn't enough just to change the position of the tripod head. When you want to remove the camera from the tripod entirely, the time spent undoing the camera from its tripod screw can result in a missed shot. Quick-release plates eliminate this problem. Devices such as the Manfrotto RC2 Rapid Connect system and Gitzo Dovetail Quick-Release Adapter are just a few of the designs that secure your camera to a removable plate that can be quickly and easily separated from the tripod head. From small tripods, like the Giottos Q-Pod, to larger units, such as the OSN OS 900, that include this feature, the quick-release plate combines ready access with the stable platform needed to reduce the adverse impact of camera shake and vibration.
Another speedy alternative is the L-bracket that often works with ARCA-SWISS-style mounting plates. The Kirk Enterprises Big L Bracket and Manfrotto's L-Bracket 341 provide a fast change of camera orientation without fiddling with the tripod, which is useful when a level tripod is essential. Once the tripod legs have been adjusted to ensure that it's level, an L-bracket maintains the tripod position while allowing a change of orientation.
Monopods Even monopods can offer quick adjustment. The Velbon Neopod and Manfrotto's new Automatic Monopod (684B) feature unique designs that deliver rapid height adjustments. Combining light weight with such fast height adjustment, these monopods give photographers the means to change camera positions in a flash without risking stability.