When did you last take a photograph handheld? If you’re a wildlife or sports photographer then you probably do it most of the time, but for the majority of us, shooting handheld is seen as a sin – a lazy option that results in images that are poorly composed and, quite often, unsharp.

Serious photographers use a tripod at all times – and the bigger and heavier, the better. Right? Well, no, not really. While there are undoubted benefits to mounting your camera on a tripod, there are also pitfalls. It may slow you down, make you think more and keep your camera steady, but that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes a tripod can slow you down too much, get in the way and cause you to miss shots altogether. Fast and flexible also has its place in creative photography, and that means ditching your three-legged friend in favour of your own hands. Don’t worry, it’s fine – you can trust them!

To a degree, the importance of using a tripod also pre-dates digital capture. Back in the good old days of film, if you wanted optimum image quality you needed to use the slowest film – Fuji Velvia (ISO 50), Kodachrome 25 (ISO 25) – which meant that in all but the brightest conditions, a tripod was required to keep the camera steady and cope with slow shutter speeds. That logic still applies today, but not to the same extent. The default ISO of most DSLRs is ISO 100 – for some it’s ISO 200. Better still, many of the latest models produce fantastic image quality at higher ISOs, which gives you more control over the shutter speeds you use and reduces the need for a tripod, even when shooting subjects that traditionally would demand one, such as landscape, architecture and still life.

So why not give handholding a try? You’ll be amazed by the freedom it provides. You’ll also be able to experiment with techniques that a tripod prevents. And we guarantee that far from lowering the quality of your images, you’ll see a definite improvement.