6 Reasons You Need a Tripod
1. Using a Telephoto Lens
Although it's certainly possible to use a telephoto lens with just your hands, but you probably don't want to. If it's something you won't have a chance to take another shot at, hand-holding isn't worth the risk. Due to the construction of the telephoto lens, any shake or vibration is magnified and could cause disappointing results.
There are a few things you can do to help mitigate shake when you don't have your tripod handy. A good rule of thumb to remember when holding a telephoto lens instead of using a tripod, is your shutter speed should never be less than 1/(focal length). For example, if your focal length is 400mm, your shutter speed should be 1/400 or faster. If you need to use a slower shutter speed, it's time to break out the tripod.
Tripods don't need to be overly expensive either. You can find great selections of Entry Level or Enthusiast Tripods at reasonable prices, without sacrificing build quality.
2. Sunrise or Sunset
Taking photos at sunrise or sunset usually means low light conditions. Low light means you'll want to expose your image for a longer period of time. When it comes to long exposures, even the slightest movement can destroy the sharpness.
With your tripod, you can mitigate any shake, and snap a crisp, sharp sunset shots every time.
3. Night Shooting
Just like sunrise or sunset, the light is going to be extremely low. If you're shooting something stagnant a tripod is the way to go. A long exposure will allow you to capture considerably more light on the sensor, resulting in a photo that looks much less dark than it actually is.
You can adjust exposure after the fact fairly easily, but fixing blur across an entire frame is another thing. Get your photos the way you want them the first time; bring a tripod.
4. Macro Photography
Macro is a really cool style of photography that's gaining traction fast. With the lens so close to the subject, and enlarged details being so fine, there's no room for camera shake. Although many macro subjects are fairly slow moving, you don't want a bit of camera shake ruining your only shot at a bee before it departs its newly pollenated petal.
Often, a small, close to surface tripod is ideal for macro photography. Allowing you to get close to your subjects without needing any oversized or complex setups.
A tripod can take the guesswork out of your photography, leaving you confident that each shot is turning out exactly as you expected.
5. Time Lapse
Any time you need to keep the camera in the exact same spot is a good time to use a tripod. Pulling off a well defined time lapse while hand-holding would be near impossible. A solid tripod is definitely the way to go. Although moving the camera won't cause the same blur as most of the other scenarios, it would shift the frame of the lapse, temporarily or permanently, which is something both you and those viewing your work, definitely don't want.
6. Long Exposure Shots
Just like we mentioned above, anytime you're going to have the shutter open for an extended period of time you should be using a tripod. You can do some really cool things with a tripod and a long exposure.
Set your camera up somewhere you can see the highway at night, and leave the shutter open as the cars drive by. The lights from the cars will leave trails across the photo, while the car itself will remain much less visible, since it's more dimly lit than its lights.
TL;DR - Tripods, Your New Best Friend
From sunsets to light painting, tripods have proven themselves to be essential when it comes to equipment.
Regardless of your skill level or budget, a tripod is something you'll want to make a staple in your kit.