Using a tripod for iPhone photography is guaranteed to give you sharper, shake-free images. But it also opens up new photographic opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to explore if you were hand-holding your iPhone. In this tutorial you’ll discover a range of different iPhone tripods, and how you can use them to take sharper and more creative iPhone photos and videos.
Choosing The Best iPhone Tripod For You
If you don’t already own a tripod, you’ll need to figure out which kind of tripod would best suit your needs.
There are many different tripod systems available for the iPhone – from tiny compact tripods that will fit in your pocket, to full-size professional DSLR tripods.
For an in-depth review of the best tripods out there, read our iPhone tripod comparison article. Below are just a few tripod options that you might want to consider.
The Joby GripTight Micro Stand is one of the smallest tripods on the market. Its super-low profile makes it an excellent option for capturing extremely low angle shots.
Another tripod system from the same manufacturer is the very popular Joby GripTight GorillaPod. Its bendable legs can be shaped to stand firmly on any flat or uneven surface, and you can even wrap them around poles, trees, bicycle handlebars, etc.
If you’re looking for a sturdy medium-sized compact tripod, the Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod is an excellent choice. This is a high quality product, and the adjustable ball-head makes it easy to adjust the angle of your iPhone when shooting.
If you think that you’ll need a taller tripod, but still want something that’s lightweight and easy to carry around, the Lollipod tripod might suit your needs. It extends up to almost four feet, but its multi-section telescopic pole allows it to be folded down to a neat compact size.
If you want ultimate stability, you should consider purchasing a full-size professional tripod. This would be a great option if you also shoot with a DSLR as you’ll be able to use it with both your camera and your iPhone.
There are many different full-size tripods available, but a good place to start would be with Manfrotto as they have a great range of models and they’re known for their excellent quality.
Tripod Grips & Mounts
When purchasing an iPhone tripod, keep in mind that you may also need to buy a separate iPhone tripod mount that attaches to the mounting screw of your tripod.
You can then place your iPhone into the grip, so that it’s held securely in place on the tripod.
There are many different kinds of iPhone grips and mounts available. Two popular makes that you might want to check out are the Glif Adjustable Tripod Mount (shown above) which costs around $30, and the Joby GripTight Mount (shown below) which costs around $20.
Remote Shutter Release
When using a tripod for iPhone photography, you may also want to consider using some kind of remote shutter release. A remote shutter allows you to fire the camera’s shutter without having to physically touch the iPhone.
This ensures that you don’t introduce any camera shake when taking the shot. If you’re shooting a self-portrait, it’ll save you from having to use the camera’s self-timer.
Did you know that the earbuds that came with your iPhone can be used as a remote shutter? Simply plug the earbuds into your phone, then use the volume buttons to fire the shutter.
Another option is to purchase one of many wireless remote shutter options that connect to your iPhone via Bluetooth.
A popular choice is the Muku Shuttr (shown below) which costs around $38.
Now that you have a good idea of the different types of tripod and associated accessories, let’s explore nine different shooting scenarios where a tripod is either essential or beneficial.
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1. Long Exposure Photography
Long exposure photography is traditionally associated with DSLR cameras which allow you to keep the shutter open for several seconds, or even minutes or hours.
Long exposure photography allows you to get really creative with your images. For example, you can capture light trails at night, or convey a sense of movement by capturing motion blur as your subject moves across the scene.
Another extremely popular use of slow shutter apps is for creating beautiful waterfall shots where the water appears soft and silky.
When shooting with slow shutter speeds, it’s essential that you use a tripod in order to keep your iPhone perfectly still for the duration of the exposure.
This will ensure that any stationary objects, such as rocks or bridges, appear sharp in the final image. Remember that you only want the moving subjects to appear blurred in a long exposure photo.
If you’re hand-holding the camera, you’ll end up with camera shake and everything in the photo will appear blurred. So you really can’t capture decent long exposures without a tripod.
You can also use slow shutter apps to create more abstract images, such as these wonderful rotational blur photos.
To create this effect, simply mount your iPhone on a tripod, set the shutter speed to several seconds, then rotate the iPhone to create the rotational blur.
You can create different kinds of rotation effect by varying the speed that you rotate the iPhone. Below is the same scene, but with a slower rotation.
The end result will vary depending on the scene that you’re photographing, the duration of the exposure, and the speed of the rotation.
Be sure to try this technique in different kinds of location, for example, out in nature, in a city at night, etc. You never quite know what the end result will be, but it’s sure to be interesting and unique!
Using a tripod in conjunction with slow shutter apps will open up many new photographic opportunities where you can express your creativity in a whole range of different ways.
2. Night & Low Light Photography
When shooting in low light, the camera will need to use a slower shutter speed to capture enough light from the scene.
During this longer exposure, any slight movement will result in camera shake that causes the entire photo to appear blurred.
Using a tripod for iPhone photography in low light will eliminate any camera shake, ensuring that you get a perfectly sharp shot every time.
The less you touch your iPhone while shooting in low light or at night the better. So if you want to capture the sharpest shots possible in low light conditions, be sure to use a tripod.
3. Close-Up & Macro Photography
If you enjoy take close-up photos with your iPhone, a tripod will make it much easier to capture sharp shots with the right part of the scene in focus.
There are two reasons for using a tripod when shooting close-ups. One is that when you hold your iPhone very close to your subject, any slight hand movement will result in very visible blurring caused by camera shake.
Using a tripod means that you’ll get sharper images because there are no hand movements to blur the image.
The second reason is that the closer the iPhone’s lens is to the subject, the shallower the depth of field will be. Depth of field refers to how much of the image appears in sharp focus from front to back.
A shallow depth of field means that only a small portion of the scene will be in focus. This can result in beautiful blurred backgrounds in your iPhone photos.
So when shooting close-up images it’s essential that you get the right part of your subject in sharp focus.
If you’re hand-holding the camera, it’s very difficult to keep the camera in exactly the same position once you’ve set your focus point. Any movement back or forth will result in the wrong part of the image being in focus.
Using a tripod for close-up photography means that you’ll be able to set your focus point much more accurately.
4. Shooting Awkward Angles
A tripod is a useful accessory for those times when you need to shoot the scene from an awkward angle.
For example, if you want to shoot from a very low angle, you may need to lie on the ground so that you can get your iPhone into the correct position.
If the ground is wet, or you’re feeling self-conscious about getting into such a position in public, this may not be the ideal way to take the photo. It can also be difficult to hold the camera still while you’re in this position.
An easier and more comfortable option would be to use a compact tripod to position your iPhone low to the ground.
This is a great option when you want to photograph flowers and leaves from a low angle. Not only does it create an image from a more unusual viewpoint, but it also allows you to use the sky as your background which helps the subject stand out.
Another powerful technique is to photograph a leaf from below with the sun shining through it. The backlighting will reveal incredible color and detail.
Any time you’re shooting from a low angle, consider using a tripod to get your iPhone into a better position while maintaining a perfectly steady camera.
You may also want to use a tripod when shooting from a high angle. For example, if you’re creating flat-lay still life photos where you’re shooting down onto your subject, a taller tripod can be useful as it allows you to position the iPhone directly above the subject.
Once you’ve set up your iPhone on the tripod, you can move the objects around and try out different shots without having to worry about re-positioning the camera each time.
5. Landscape Photography
While a tripod isn’t essential for shooting landscapes, many photographers choose to use one in these situations. So how can a tripod improve your landscape photography?
First of all, a tripod is almost always going to give you a sharper shot than hand-holding the camera. Even in good light when your iPhone will be using a fast shutter speed, it’s likely that your hands will move ever so slightly during the exposure.
The great thing about landscape photography is that the scene is relatively static, so you can take your time when composing your photos. This allows you plenty of time to set up a tripod without worrying that you’re going to miss the perfect shot.
A tripod is also great for helping you to align your iPhone so that the horizon is perfectly level.
A lot of landscape photography is actually done in fairly low light conditions, such as during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, on overcast days, or during stormy weather when the sky is dark and dramatic.
In these kinds of low light conditions, your iPhone camera will need to use a slower shutter speed to correctly expose the image. A tripod will help you to avoid camera shake.
Another reason to take a tripod with you when you’re shooting landscapes is that you never know when you might come across a beautiful waterfall or river.
If you have a tripod you’ll be able to capture stunning long exposure water shots like the one above.
6. Architectural Photography
Architectural photography is another genre where a tripod can help you achieve better results.
If you’re shooting the interior of a building, it’s likely that you’re going to be working in fairly low light conditions. So a tripod will ensure that you get a sharp shot every time.
Another reason for using a tripod when photographing buildings is that it allows you to capture more unique angles.
Have you ever tried to photograph an ornate ceiling inside a building? If so, you’ve probably found it difficult to keep your iPhone steady because you have to hold your arms up away from your body.
Mounting your iPhone on a tripod allows you to capture shake-free shots when shooting from awkward angles.
Buildings are full of lines and symmetry, and you can make use of these design elements to create powerful compositions.
A tripod allows you to slow down when composing your photo, so that you can align the elements for perfectly straight and symmetrical images.
7. Portraits & Self-Portraits
If you’re shooting posed portrait photos, a tripod can be an extremely useful tool.
Not only will it ensure you achieve sharp shots if you’re shooting in a low light indoor environment, but it also allows you to take your time to set up the perfect composition.
First you can set up the scene how you want it, with any appropriate furniture or props. Then you can mount your iPhone on a tripod and compose the shot exactly as you want it. You don’t even need to have the subject in the frame at this point.
Once you’ve framed your shot with the exact composition that you want, you can bring your subject into the scene and ask them to pose.
With your iPhone on the tripod, you can now take multiple shots with the subject in different poses or with different facial expressions – while all the time maintaining the exact same framing of the scene.
Taking lots of photos one after the other will ensure that you get at least one great shot where the subject has the perfect facial expression and pose.
Of course, you can still take great portrait photos even if you don’t have anyone to model for you. In such circumstances, why not try shooting a self-portrait using yourself as the subject?
Simply frame the shot with your iPhone on a tripod, then either set the self-timer in the camera app or use a remote shutter to take the shot once you’re in position.
A tripod is also perfect for those times where you want to take a group shot and appear in the photo yourself. This means that you no longer always have to be the person behind the camera!
In addition to still photography, a tripod is also a useful accessory when shooting movies with the Video mode in the iPhone’s camera app.
If you enjoy using your iPhone for videography, it’s definitely worth using a tripod to ensure your capture stable footage. There’s nothing worse than watching a shaky video!
In addition to this, a tripod allows you to frame the scene more accurately, follow your subject more easily, and create stunning footage where you slowly pan from one side of the scene to the other.
9. Time-Lapse Videos
Another kind of videography that requires a tripod is time-lapse photography. A time-lapse is a series of hundreds or thousands of photos taken over several minutes or hours. Once captured, the images are automatically edited together and exported as a video file.
Due to the way it speeds up your subject’s movement, a time-lapse video can reveal movement that we barely notice with the naked eye.
Good time-lapse subjects might include clouds moving across the sky, flowers opening in the sun, or candles burning down.
Busy scenes can also look great as a time-lapse video. For example, people shopping, rush-hour traffic, or children running around in the park.
To shoot a time-lapse video, ensure your iPhone camera’s shooting mode is set to Time-Lapse.
Mount your iPhone on a tripod, point it at the scene you want to capture, then press the red button. Now everything that’s moving in front of your iPhone will be recorded as hundreds of still photos.
When you’re done, press the red button again. The iPhone will then save the photos as a finished time-lapse video.
If your video only ended up being a few short seconds, try recording for much longer next time. You generally need to record for at least a few minutes, but preferably longer.
Another fun option is to mount your iPhone on a small table-top tripod, and then place it on the car dash so that you can record your journey as a time-lapse.
For safety, make sure that you’re the passenger. Don’t attempt this if you’re the driver as you’ll be distracted.
When you’ve got a good composition, press the red button to start the time-lapse recording, and ask your driver to start driving.
Keep the time-lapse going for at least a few minutes, and when you feel that you’ve got what you need, press the red button again to stop.
Tripod For iPhone: Conclusion
As you’ve seen in this tutorial, a tripod can be used for a wide variety of photography and videography techniques.
Not only does a tripod allow you to capture sharper photos and more stable videos, but it also opens up new and creative photo opportunities such as long exposure photography, night photography and time-lapse.
A tripod also allows you to slow down your image-making, giving you more time to create the perfect composition and explore your create side.
Many people think that using a tripod means carrying around bulky equipment, and that it takes the “mobile” out of mobile photography. However, with the huge range of compact and mini tripods available, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Whether you choose to use a tripod for all of your photography or just in certain situations, it’s definitely worth having one in your iPhone photography toolkit.