Pushing the Limits of Tripod-less

Riverwalk at Night - San Antonio, Texas

Riverwalk at Night – San Antonio, Texas

My wife and I stayed in downtown San Antonio last weekend. A night at The Hotel Contessa, a stylish place right on the River Walk. It was all part of the grand move-your-son-into-college process. I also made ambitious plans for photography, but not all of them came true, which is a story for another post.

I shot this right by the hotel, during a stroll around the River Walk with my wife. No tripod and not purely in Photography Mode. It was a quick snapshot but I was confidently applying my tripod-less technique, relying upon the built-in image stabilization and an extra slow shutter speed to preserve dynamic range. The results were mixed.

No big surprise that the age of true tripod-less photography is not quite here. This quieter River Walk, far from the bars, was dark. A set of stable sticks would’ve definitely helped. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by this image — I was expecting worse. Shot at 0.2 seconds at ISO 640, I managed to push the dynamic range without an objectionable amount of noise. But I was using a f2.8 lens.

My slower f4 – f5.6 wide-angle lens, however, just didn’t satisfy, With the ISO bumped up, post processing could not create a shot I felt worthy. Though I suppose the smart phone crowd would be OK with it. Note to self, don’t sell the tripod just yet or invest in f2.8 Pro wide-angle lenses. You can probably guess which is the less expensive solution.


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10 thoughts on “Pushing the Limits of Tripod-less

  1. Interesting quandary. Olympus PRO wide zoom v. Tripod. That zoom is mighty expensive, but I know which one is more likely to be with me on a river walk 🙂

    1. It is an interesting quandary. I have a tripod so I don’t have to spend additional money for that, but, of course, it’s cumbersome to carry. The pro lens is going to be expensive and lot heavier than my f4 – 5.6 but it goes wider and is optically superior.

      If it gets dark enough, no matter what, a tripod will be required. Or if you want to do long exposures. But the freedom and creativity without a tripod is really compelling.

  2. Nice image!

    You and I are about the same vintage — late 40s. I remember when my slow SLR zooms in the 1990s made a tripod necessary. I also remember when ISO 400 was a relatively “fast” film. Your shot wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago.

    I also want to say that I really enjoyed your photo essays of Japan.

    1. Thank you, Stephen.

      Yes, technology has enabled some wonderful improvements. Between sky high ISOs, high quality large aperture lenses and sophisticated image stabilization.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my photos from Japan. I have more that I’ll mix in, among others.

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