Tripods and monopods are key tools for any serious still or video photographer, providing solid bases for taking shots, while enhancing creative options. Camera tripods come in a variety of styles and sizes, ranging from models small enough to slip into your pocket, all the way up to studio models measuring 6 feet or more. Also known as unipods, camera monopods provide a one-legged solution for holding cameras steady. While not quite possessing the stability of tripods, monopods are light, compact, and easy to move around. These qualities make them the perfect travel accessories, and ideal for use in tight spaces. Most of all, the portability is suitable for sports and action photographers, who need to move quickly.
Camera and video camera tripods feature heads for mounting the camera, and legs. Heads come in many forms with the most popular being ball heads. These allow you to position your camera in most any direction, and then affix it in place with a locking screw.
Pan and tilt heads let you move your camera along either axis independently. One type of pan and tilt head is the fluid head. These contain a viscous fluid that provides the necessary "drag" for steady movement. Video camera tripods often feature fluid heads, as they allow for smooth panning and tilting.
Tripod legs are either fixed or telescopic, with the latter featuring locks to hold them in position. Lever locks offer fast adjustment, while wing nuts or twist collars take more time to apply. Other common features of tripod legs include braces that connect the lower sections for added support and rigidity. When choosing professional video tripod legs, you get gear with very high-quality construction, with carbon fiber tubes for legs and magnesium die castings. These features help support the heavy cameras and lenses that pros tend to use.
Virtually any modern camera is a tripod-capable model via a tripod mount, a small hole with a female 1/4-20 socket located on the bottom. This accepts the male 1/4-20 screw that most tripods feature as their camera tripod mount. However, some high-end ones feature a separate camera mounting system.
Broadcasters and other filmmakers generally use professional video quick-release plates. Also called QR plates, these small metallic plates fit on your camera's base with a screw mount. Many brands have their own proprietary QR plates. You can also find universal models that you can use with many makes and models of tripods.
If you want to discover a complete range of still and video camera tripods, you'll find these along with monopod heads and accessories at B&H Photo and Video.