If you don’t want to carry a tripod, or the terrain in which you are operating won’t facilitate the use of one, don’t worry – there are a number of product solutions on the market that have been specially designed to suit most specific needs.
£20 TO £200
Although you can’t do very long exposures with one, a monopod will reduce the minimum safe shutter speed by several stops, making them more useful than they may seem. They’re ideal for when you want something lighter to carry than a tripod, or for when tripods are prohibited or there isn’t enough room to put one up (e.g, crowded sporting events), or for resting a heavy telephoto lens on, to take the strain off your arms.
£10 TO £80
Tripods come in all shapes and sizes, some of which are small enough to fit in a pocket. While the flimsy plastic ones at the lowest end of the price scale are only really suitable for small compacts some of the better, and invariably metal-constructed, ones can support a DSLR. You’ll need to find a wall, table or other high surface to put it on, or shoot from ground level, but they can be a lifesaver.
£15 TO £100
Clamps can be very handy for attaching cameras, flashguns, reflectors and whatever solid surfaces will fit between their vice-like jaws. While the cheaper plastic models are okay for some things, go for the stronger, metal clamps (such as those made by Manfrotto) for supporting your DSLR.
£15 TO £90
Still a tripod (kind of), the bendy, twisty Gorillapod can be wrapped around tree branches and the like, providing an alternative method of support.
Being plastic they’re very light, though bulkier than a pocket tripod. The smallest one is only suitable for compacts though there are several larger for DSLRs, including the new Gorillapod Focus.
£10 TO £30
Beanbags are popular with nature photographers. Their big advantage is that, empty, they weight almost nothing and take up no room in your bag. But fill them with sand, gravel, or whatever is to hand and they mould to the shape of your camera or lens and hold it firmly. You can even fill them with rice, ceramic peas etc before you go. They don’t offer much height, so need to be used at ground level or placed on something like a rock or branch for a higher viewpoint. Pictured is ‘The Pod’ (£15 from Jessops).
£10 TO £30
Give it a lick, slap it on to the nearest window and voila, you now have a limpet-like support for your camera. While you would probably not trust one of these enough to walk off and leave your expensive new DSLR hanging from it, they can provide a useful stabilising force wherever you have glass, metal or some other smooth surface to stick them too – such as your car, for example.