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The tripod has been hailed as the greatest photographic accessory ever invented, and with good reason. Of course, the basic concept of the tripod predates the invention of photography by at least a few thousand years, and artists, soldiers, seamen, astronomers, surveyors, and many others have employed tripods for a variety of purposes over the ages. The photographic tripod or camera stand dates back to the dawn of the photographic era around 1840 when wooden versions of the artist’s tripod used with the camera obscura were pressed into service with the ponderous Daguerreotype cameras of the day. Up until the 1880s, with the invention of more sensitive silver-halide plates and flexible roll film, hardly any pictures were ever taken without using a tripod—given the low sensitivity (ISO 1-3) of the older glass plates, taking sharp pictures handheld was virtually impossible. Nowadays virtually every photographer will use a tripod for night photography, wedding, sports, nature, landscape, panoramic and macro photography to name a few.
Davis & Sanford, the oldest American tripod manufacturer and a key player in the advancement of tripod design, grew out of the renowned Davis & Sanford Photo Studio on Fifth Avenue in New York. Founded in 1892 by Charles Henry Davis and E. Starr Stanford, it catered to members of New York’s high society, including such notables as Andrew Carnegie. In 1930, Michael Resk, an established professional photographer who had emigrated from Germany, bought the Davis & Sanford Studio and continued its tradition of catering to the carriage trade.
Michael Resk was more than just an accomplished photographer—he was a brilliant inventor who saw the vast potential in color photography. In those days, before the widespread use of color film, professional photographers used bulky three-color separation cameras that shot three identical black-and-white negatives simultaneously through three primary-color filters which were then combined to make a color print. Resk invented and constructed a new cutting-edge version of this type of the camera, but he soon realized he needed something else to get the most out of it—something that didn’t yet exist—a super-rigid, lightweight metal tripod. He also knew there would be a ready market for such a tripod, and that only he could manufacture it to his exacting specifications.
Michael Resk proceeded to perfect the Davis & Sanford Model A tripod, a design so successful that it was used, in modified form, in the Desert Storm campaign and is still listed in the catalog! With the help of his three sons Ed, William, and Rene, he began manufacturing tripods, and the company certainly didn’t rest on its laurels. When customers asked for a tripod that went higher than the “A”, they designed the Davis & Sanford Model B, which is still a standard in the field of industrial photography. When the market moved to smaller cameras, Davis & Sanford engineered the smaller Model C, which incorporated the proven features of the Models A and B and is still acclaimed for its simplicity, dependability, and ruggedness.
Over the years, Davis & Sanford tripods became the choice of many professional photographers, and new models were introduced to serve the special needs of the portrait, fashion, astronomical, government, and television photographers as well as photojournalists, professional cinematographers, and videographers. When the construction industry required a giant tripod that would extend to 15 feet, they turned to Davis & Sanford, and the company quickly developed the unique Model Maxi.
This spirit of functional excellence, technical innovation, and outstanding value continues today, and the latest line of Davis & Sanford tripods and the new line of Vista tripods marketed by The Tiffen Company include many of the most durable, best-performing tripods on the market. Available in a wide range of sizes and types, including carbon fiber, grounder, and fluid head models all Davis & Sanford and Vista tripods benefit from the latest technology and our 75-year tradition of uncompromising quality.