Panoramic photography and tripods are inseparable especially when recording HDR where perfectly aligned multiple exposure are required.
Solid and Sturdy Tripod
The point of a tripod is obviously to have a sturdy support. Attach a panoramic pan-head on top of your tripod and maybe a levelling device and suddenly the weight of the camera is moved 30-50 cm above the base plate. This will affect not only the sturdiness of the tripod but also put strain on every nut and bolt in the tripod. But whilst you want your tripod to be solid you also have to consider its footprint.
Tripod Footprint for Panoramic Photography
If you record 360x360 degree panoramic images your tripod will feature in the final image. The footprint of the tripod is therefore an issue. The smaller the tripod footprint the less time spend in Photoshop cloning it out - but the narrower the tripod spans the more susceptible it is to movement.
One obvious place to cut down on the footprint is the tripod camera head. You may opt for a simple ball head with no large handle protruding out from the tripod but they can be a pain to adjust when trying to level the camera. Personally I prefer a compact camera head with small controls. It doesn't add to the footprint and it makes levelling much easier.
Tripod essentials for panoramic photography:
- Sturdy also when the camera is placed above the base level on panoramic pan-head
- Well designed joints and operations that can be locked solid without effort
- easy and flexible adjustment controls for levelling
- Small footprint
The Manfrotto range consist of well designed quality tripods that balance weight, sturdiness and footprint well for the money. The joints and controls are fluid and easy to operate and they lock solid without effort. I didn't opt for the carbon option, although it would have been easier to carry, I find it a bit too light and expensive. Having said that, another tripod 'must have' is a small hook from which you can hang your camera bag, not for convenience but to add weight thus sturdiness to the tripod
There are loads of other quality tripods on the marked and the important thing to stress is that you get what you pay for – and cheap tripods just aren't worth bothering with – most are useless when it comes to panoramic photography