Even if someone has no background in linguistics, the question of how many legs a tripod has seems just as pointless as how many wheels a tricycle has.
However, seeing someone point to a monopod and call it a tripod may beg the question: how many legs does a tripod have?
In all fairness, it’s a valid question for new photographers to ask considering the many different types of tripods out there, including “tripods” that don’t have three legs.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look into what tripods are and their general structure, as well as explore the different types of tripods and their unique purposes.
Why Do Tripods Have Three Legs?
Most tripods have three legs, but why not more or less?
The answer has to do with a tripod’s purpose: stability.
When you take a picture or a video while holding your camera, chances are it’ll be blurry due to the shaking.
A tripod, however, ensures that your camera stays still. As a result, you can take blur-free pictures and videos.
Unlike what common sense may suggest, four-legged tripods aren’t better for stability. This becomes clear when you try to set them up on uneven surfaces.
Add to that how four-legged tripods tend to cost more and take longer to set up, and you’ll realize that three-legged tripods are more ideal.
Structure of Tripods
Tripods can be made up of as many as seven parts to ensure they function with no issue. Here’s a complete breakdown of tripods.
The spider, or chassis as it is more technically known, is the heart of a tripod.
A tripod’s remaining parts are attached to the spider near the top where the legs are also connected.
This is the part responsible for controlling the height of your camera.
A center column is usually situated in the middle of the tripod and can be either cranked up or lowered down as needed.
The head is the part that holds your camera above the center column and can be tilted around in different directions to get the desired angle.
Lateral arms are typically seen attached to heavy-duty tripods to connect their legs. These arms offer additional stability.
The legs are the foundation of all tripods.
They’re typically telescopic, which means the legs are divided into sections that can slide into or over one another.
This is where a three-legged tripod’s flexibility shines since the legs can be extended or retracted to combat uneven surfaces.
There are two types of leg locks to secure the tripod in place. Lever locks and twist locks.
While lever locks are less tricky, they can’t handle bad weather like twist locks. Not to mention lever locks tend to wear out over time.
Last but not least are the type of feet you’ll want to attach to your tripod.
Be they rubber, clawed, or spiked, you’ll have to take note of your environment first before coming to a decision.
Different Types of Tripods
There are a lot of forms tripods can take, each with its own quirks and applications. So, let’s take a look at those different types of tripods.
Monopods are simply one-legged monopod.
As some may refer to them as “tripods”, this could be one of the reasons people ask how many legs tripods have.
Since a monopod only has one leg, it’ll simply fall over if left standing on its own. You’ll need to hold it in place when shooting or filming.
A monopod isn’t as stable compared to a tripod, but it offers a lot of freedom when moving around in return.
As the name implies, travel tripods are designed to be easily carried around during your travels. They’re light but quite durable.
They’re also perfect to hold heavy cameras in place and are well known for their portability.
Pocket tripods are the most portable type of tripod. So long as your pockets are big enough, you can carry them pretty much wherever you like!
A pocket tripod’s only downside is that it can’t carry a lot of weight, so it can only hold small cameras.
Heavy-duty tripods stand in stark contrast to the tripods in our previous entry. No pun intended.
They’re a lot rarer and more costly thanks to the expensive materials used in their design.
You’re more likely to find them in studios, and they’re what professional photographers dedicated to the craft would pick sooner or later.
Since they’re highly specialized, they’re absolutely stable.
Some are immovable once they’re set up, and they can naturally withstand large and heavy cameras.
If you ever hear someone refer to a monopod as a tripod, the question that’ll most likely pop into your head is: how many legs does a tripod have?
Well, most, if not all, tripods have three legs.
The confusion stems from some people referring to any device that you can secure and stabilize a camera on as a tripod.
Whether you pursue photography as a mere hobby or wish to embark on the path to becoming a professional, we hope you’ve benefited greatly now that you know the basics of tripods!