Monday, April 4, 2016

Try this instead of a selfie-stick tripod for your 360-degree camera!

You can't get this view with a selfie-stick...

Sometimes you need to use a stand for your 360-degree camera.  A selfie-stick with tripod legs is portable and convenient, but usually not very tall/long.  A regular camera tripod is taller but shows up prominently in the shot because of the larger panhead.  For greater height and stability, consider using a light stand.

In this post, I will show some of the benefits of using a light stand for your 360-degree camera.  I'll also help you select a light stand.  Hit the jump!



COMPARISON

Here is a selfie stick tripod compared with a light stand.  The selfie stick I use is the iKross, which can extend to 40 inches.  The compact light stand I like to use with the Ricoh Theta is the Manfrotto Nano / 5001B, which has 5 sections and can extend up to 74 inches.

Manfrotto Nano (with Ricoh Theta attached) and iKross selfie stick tripod

I took a shot of a scene with the selfie stick tripod, and with the compact light stand.  First, here's a shot with the selfie-stick tripod:
Test #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Now here is the same scene, this time with the compact light stand.
Test 2 #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

As you can see, there's a significant difference between the two images.  It doesn't mean the light stand will always be better, but if you need the height, the light stand will be the superior tool.

OTHER ADVANTAGES

Stability
A light stand's legs form a wider base than the legs of a selfie-stick tripod, and the light stand's legs are often adjustable.  For example, with the Nano, I can adjust it from a narrow base to a very wide base, depending on the conditions, such as wind.  Not only can this stability help you avoid damaging your camera from a fall, but it can result in sharper shots, especially when you're taking HDRs.

Rigidity
A selfie-stick is usually made for portability, so the shaft is not very strong, and has some flex to it.  This can affect the sharpness of the shot when you're using shorter shutter speeds.  A light stand is made to hold strobes, which can be heavy, so light stands tend to be fairly rigid, even when extended.


WHICH KIND OF LIGHT STAND?

Most 360 cameras for consumers are small and light, so I don't feel the need to get a heavy duty light stand.  Instead, I like using a compact light stand.  The Manfrotto Nano / 5001B can extend up to 74 inches, but folds down to 20 inches, which for me is reasonably portable.  It's also made of aluminum so it's fairly light.

There are cheaper compact light stands, but I've had one before but one of the knobs broke, so the next time I got a compact stand, I chose the Manfrotto Nano.  There's a newer model called the Nanopole which has a detachable base and extendable legs.

If your priority is maximum height, and portability is not an issue, you can use a taller light stand.  I like the Linco 8310 10-foot stand, which is very well made yet affordable.  It's very tall and is made of steel, but is not too heavy at around 5.5 lbs.  When collapsed, it's around 3 feet 3 inches (99cm) long and not much longer than their 8-foot stand (2 feet 9 inches when collapsed).

CONCLUSION

A selfie-stick tripod is useful but has its limitations as to height and stability.  For some projects, you may want to use a light stand instead for your 360-degree camera.

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