A paper has just been read to the Royal Society expounding a new mathematical discovery in the field of optics. Formerly the question of the photographic tripod has been the subject of rumour and folk legend - we now have a proper formula to explain it.
Sir Isaac Newton is popularly portrayed as forming his theory of the force of gravity by getting hit on the head by and apple - this is nonsense of course, but in the case of the tripod number this was indeed occasioned by a fall. Someone's 5D MkIII and 600mm lens tilted over and hit the mud when the owner attached it to a $ 49 plastic tripod and then let go...
Briefly, the Theory of Tripod Numbers assigns a complex number to each camera type:
Compact camera or phone with no tripod socket = 0/0
Compact camera with tripod socket = 1/1
Mirror-less system camera = 2/8
Consumer DSLR = 3/12
Professional DSLR = 4/16
Medium Format camera =5/45
Further to this, types of tripods are also assigned simple numbers:
Plastic cheapie = 1
Metal legged tripod = 2
Carbon Fibre legged tripod = 3
The last factor in the equation is the cost of he tripod:
Bargain bin = 1
Regular stock line = 2
Premium eye-wateringly expensive line = 3
Here is how the mathematics work:
A. If you have a camera with no socket you multiply 0 x 0 x 0 and get 0. You don't need a tripod - you just need to drink less and stand still.
B. If you have a mirror-less system camera you need to multiply its number - 1 - by the tripod number and then multiply that by the price factor. ie
2 x 2 x 2 = 8
The 8 that you obtained is the least number that will be successful and allow you to keep your camera up off the ground. If you try to cheat and get a little plastic tripod, you'll end up with:
2 x 1 x 1 = 2
You can expect Sir Isaac's discovery to eventually overcome yours and disaster will ensue.
C. Follow on - try the mathematics with an consumer's DSLR for yourself:
3 x 2 x 2 = 12............and you are safe.
3 x 1 x 2 =6...............and wait for the crash.
If you achieve a higher number than the minimum one required for your camera - ie choose a carbon fibre from the boutique rack and put it under your mirror-less:
2 x 3 x 3 = 18
You are as safe as houses - might have paid a bit more, but you have that reserve of goodness in case you get a bigger camera.
Next month we are going to present a paper that demonstrated the correlation between the weight carried by the adventure photographer and the value of the results. There is still a little work to be done in factoring in the cost of the chiropractor's charges but this should be finished in time for the meeting.