Digital Photography School have finished their series on tripods and monopods by listing some alternative products and ideas. I have three tripods, two are bulky, one of those is fairly heavy and the other is a small 6 inch high one that fits in my camera bag. The small one gets the most use as the other two are either at home or in the car when I need more stability.
He forgot one alternative, the string tripod which is assembled from a length of string and a bolt small enough to fit the tripod mount socket on a camera. It’s also called a chain tripod. Simply screw the bolt into your camera, stand on the other end of the string and hold the camera to your eye making sure the string is taut. Sources say you’ll get 2 stops extra or shoot at 1/8 sec which is quite impressive. What’s more, it’s a lot more portable than any other tripod or monopod. I really must do some testing and see just how well it works.
The rest of the DPS tripod series is worth a read too:
If you’ve ever tried stitching photos together to create a panoramic photograph you’ll be more than aware of the awful distortion between one frame and the next. That’s one reason why it’s recommended that frames overlap by at least a third.
There is so much distortion because the camera is rotated around using a normal tripod or worse still, handheld. The axis around which the camera is rotated is centered on the camera body usually, but a panoramic tripod is different. The center of rotation should be the lens of the camera, specifically the “nodal point” of the lens where light paths cross before hitting the camera’s film or sensor.
Make Blog links to a tutorial on building a panoramic tripod head for $10! That’s a lot more reasonable than what you’d pay for a head from Manfrotto or manufacturer. It probably isn’t quite as portable or nice looking though and you might have to invest in some tools to cut the wood and build it but it would be an interesting project.
If that’s too complicated, you can build a battery using a bit of wire, a screw and a magnet!