Sharpness is essential for all static scenes I can think of be it a wide landscape, architecture, detail shots including macro etc. This kind of photos have to be sharp otherwise you can’t use them. The most keen ingredience is stability, which includes proper hand-holding technique combined with breathing and pressing a shutter the right way with having a minimal impact on a camera’s movement. Second option is to use sturdy tripod with a good head. The majority of photographers are using ball heads, but you can find several other types.
Let’s dig a bit deeper in both options, starting with hand-holding technique and starting the one and only, Joe McNally. In a following video he’ll share possibly the best way to achieve stability with short and long barrel lenses.
I have to admit, it has two downsides. The first one being it is usable only for left-eyed shooters, but the skill can be learned in some time. I was a right-eye shooter for a long time, and learned to shoot with both eyes just for the stability puprose. The second downside is the size of your camera. You can pull the technique off in a more simple fashion with a pro-level dSLR with a vertical grip build right to the body or by having an additional vertical grip for your camera. Anyway, it can be done with cameras without grips, which is slightly more complicated but the sharpness and stability you`ll get is just on a different level.
The second way how to get the ultimate sharpness and stability is to use a rugged tripod with sturdy head. I prefer ball heads for my style of shooting, because it allows me to make quick adjustments without any too much work. Of course, 3way heads will provide better control and they are more precise, but are more complicated and less made for traveling due to their size.
There are many tripod manufacturers in the world. I have my own experience with Manfrotto and Gitzo, and what I`ve heard over time that Induro are also great and RRS is the king. When I started out with photography, I chose the cost path trying to minimize all cost. The result was buying a rubbish tripod what couldn`t hold anything else than a simple point-n-shoot. It`s instability was more obvious with a dSLR and the tripod needed an upgrage. So I went with a Manfrotto and with my entry level camera it did a fine job. For even more stability I got a carbon fibre Gitzo which I absolutely love and adore. Any shake is reduced and most of the time you won`t notice it in the picture.
Having good legs is just a part of the entire deal, a sturdy head is the second important thing to get. My experience here is the same as with tripod legs, Mafrotto is OK, Gitzo is better. But recently I was just pissed off by getting slightly blurred images from my 70-200 mounted on tripod and I ordered BH-55 from RRS. Yes, it is expensive with the price tag being $455 at the moment, and getting the L-bracket for my camera and a extra plate cost me a lot. On the other hand it is the most stable combo I`ve ever tested. ZERO. Getting photos with ultimate sharpness is just one pleasent think. Another being that there isn`t any head creeping after tighting it up. Your lens won`t fall down not even a bit, framing won`t change.
So in conclusion, proper hand-holding technique is important. If you shoot a lot on a tripod like I do, get the best gear possible. Knowing how expensive BH-55 is you might need to rob a bank … do it, it really is worth it. By getting a cheap gear you can cut costs. There is a old saying “you`ll get what you pay for”. It was true with lenses few years back before Sigma, Tamron and Tokina started making superb lenses. With tripods and support gear I have quite a few experiences, and have to say that the saying is still applicable here. Save yourself the trouble and go for the best!