July 9, 2007 HelpLine

Q) I feel kind of silly asking this question, so I thought I would send you an e-mail and plead that you keep my last name out of it. Someone recently talked to me about a video tripod. Isn’t a tripod a tripod? I suppose there’s something to do with weight with some of those bigger video cameras, but some are pretty lightweight, too. So my “stupid” question: Is there such a thing as a “video” tripod?

Jack J., Via the Internet

A) My editor says there are no stupid questions, only stupid jokes (like that one!). There is such a thing as a video tripod. If you were to place a photo tripod and a video tripod side by side, at first glance you might not be able to tell the difference between the two: both have three legs, both use some kind of swiveling head.

The difference lies in the head. Once you level a video head, the only directions you can move it are horizontally (panning) and vertically (tilting). A typical photo tripod head, once loosened, will allow for movement in an arc around the center of the head. That isn’t a typical movement for video.

Can you use a video head with a still camera? If the head is capable of carrying the weight load, it will work.

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