So you finally splurged and bought yourself a really nice $200 tripod. But your pictures are still not as sharp as you hoped. Here are the three main reasons why your tripod isn’t helping you.
The first consideration is the head and tripod legs. The question is does your tripod have sturdy legs with a sturdy head? If your tripod cost less than $50 new, it's probably not enough. When there is a breeze while you are shooting, small unsturdy tripod legs will mean a blurry photo. You also need to make sure that the head is rated for the amount of weight you intend to mount on it. In other words, if you have a head rated for 1.5 lbs and your body and lens weigh 4 pounds, you will probably experience some slippage. Slippage is when your camera slowly moves in one direction or another because your head is incapable of supporting the weight.
The second problem is often the mount. Is your camera firmly mounted to the tripod? Very often photographers do not tighten their camera enough to the tripod head or quick release plate which makes it wobbly. Make sure your camera is firmly mounted. If you have tightened the mount as far as it will go and your camera is still slipping, there is yet another issue: the mount itself. Cheap mounting systems or quick release plates often do not have enough high quality rubber to prevent slippage. This is a significant problem.
Lastly, it may be image stabilization. If the first two is not a problem it is likely that you have left image stabilization on. You must turn it off. Although image stabilization is one of the best technological advances in photography in recent times, it’s often the culprit for shaky out of focus images. This technology allows us to take hand held pictures at slower shutter speeds without blur from our own hand movement. However, if you have your camera mounted to a tripod, you MUST turn off your stabilization system. If the camera does not detect motion, it will create motion. If the stabilization "on and off" switch is not on the lens itself it’s usually in the camera menu (Fuji and Sony). Please note “image stabilization” is also known as “vibration reduction” and “steady shot”; this depends on the manufacturer.
Before buying a new tripod try taking these steps first.