Because if it’s not your first tripod, we are sure that it will be your last one! Wooden tripods are the best alternative for long exposure photography in bulb mode, landscape photography or architecture. Surprisingly they are not so famous like their pendants made of carbon fiber, aluminum or basalt. There are several reasons why this is the case. First of all the major part of the typical tripods is produced by big companies in China. The main goal of the industry is to earn money. Therefore it is required to use cheap materials for production. Well, wood is in general not very expensive. Unfortunately not all sorts of wood are suitable for the use in tripods. Furthermore it has to be dried and stored for years before going in production. Old ash wood from Europe is the best wood type which is working excellent for this purpose. And this explains why most manufactures are not using wood, because it’s limited and import would make it very expensive. For most camera companies, wood is therefore not an alternative.
What’s wrong with tripods made of aluminum or carbon fiber?
Nothing, they are just different. Aluminum tripods are very cheap, light and stable, but aluminum is transmitting vibrations from the ground straight to your camera. Carbon fiber is even lighter than aluminum, but due to its minor weight it is also less stable. Regarding to the vibration characteristics it is slightly better than aluminum. Anyway, camera tripods made of aluminum are great for beginners who don’t want to spend a lot of money. And tripods made of carbon fiber have a nice look and they are usually well made and perfect for travelling. There are a few small things which are annoying in most of the conventional tripods. Most landscape photographers will agree that there are some issues with water and sand grains within the leg-tubes after shooting outdoor, for example at a beach. And during wintertime the tripod legs can feel very cold, which could be painful without gloves. However, if the most important points for you are stability and lifetime, rather than low weight and size, then you should keep an eye on wooden tripods.
For your professional photography the lack of Vibration is important. And regarding this ash wood is a little bit better than maple wood. And there is just one company in the world producing tripods of it. It’s the small traditional manufactory Berlebach from Germany. The other company producing wooden tripods of the inferior maple wood is Ries from the USA.
The German ash wood from the so-called “Erzgebirge” is hard, light & strong and has the best vibration damping qualities from any materials ever used for tripods. Wood is a high-tech material from nature and regarding to the vibration and stiffness characteristics it is far superior to carbon fiber or other “modern” materials. That’s why Berlebach tripods are mostly used for supporting sensitive laboratory equipment or huge telescopes for professional astronomy and deep-sky observation of the European Space Agency. Because of the lack of vibration, wooden tripods are the best choice for long exposure photography in cities, were vibrations due to the traffic occur all the time. Especially in combination with telephoto-lenses that’s relevant.
Stability is another important characteristic for the choice of your tripod. It’s not just about the material stiffness, but also about the tripod’s weight. Of course ash wood is a very stiff and strong material, but it is also heavier than aluminum. And that’s the point. The balance point on a wooden tripod is lower. Due to its weight it is much more stable under difficult situations like water streams, strong winds or even storms. In Addition wood doesn’t show any Thermal Expansion like aluminum what makes it a good option for environments with changing temperatures between cold water and warm air or sun. Just perfect for landscape photography!
The Durability of wood is enormous. Hundred millions years of evolution created the most fatigue material on our planet. Trees resists to nonstop twisting and bending caused by wind and heavy storms for decades and even centuries. Wood exceeds the lifetime of aluminum or carbon fiber easily.
Wooden tripods are Waterproof and made for all-weather! Before going in production years of storage let the wood get dry and weather resistant, in addition a modern sealing protects the wood in all environments. Wooden tripods are made for years of outdoor experience. Mud, salt water, arctic conditions, deserts or the tropics will not cause any damage on a wooden tripod.
Furthermore wooden tripods are in general simply built, without complicated and small mechanics and therefore made for decades of use and the look and feeling is also great. Wooden tripods are the genuine Alternative!
We reviewed a lot of different tripods!