You are probably a novice to moderately experienced photographer (after all, most of the population cannot claim expert status) and you are considering the essential tools for this activity. You get yourself a pretty good DSLR or even an advanced point and shoot digital. You invest in a good lens and/or flash, a nice carrying case, and even some manuals explaining the "how to" of your preferred type of photography.
Aren't you forgetting something?
What about a tripod? While most people say that they don't need a tripod because they won't be doing any of "that" sort of photography, the simplest fact of the matter is that all photographers find that they need a tripod at some time or another.
The Uses of the Tripod
Whether you are trying to take shots in dim light, also known as "low light photography" or are doing some DIY portrait work, the tripod is actually an essential. Why? Let's consider the times when tripods are necessary:
Also consider the advice of ManFrotto.com that explains that "with a tripod you can get your camera in to places you couldn't go without it." This means you can put a camera where you cannot possibly stand and still make shots!
Details About Tripods
You understand the "why", but now you want to know just "what" to buy! That is actually pretty easy...just ask yourself about the camera you use. Is it small? Is it heavy? How much movement will be required from the tripod - i.e. will you fire "down" on subjects or out into the world?
Base your choice on the size and weight of the camera, and then ask yourself what movement is needed. You can then consider the actual weight of the tripod in terms of toting it about with you. Does it need to be "heavy and heavy duty" or can it be a very lightweight thing?
Finally, do you need a tripod with a separate "head" or a single unit that consists of the legs and the head together? This impacts prices and is a valid question to consider.
We suggest heading to a few forums or user comment sites to discover what others are saying about the different models available. For instance, the DPPreview site has open forms on tripods in which novice to advanced users make their suggestions.