I was very happy to have it when my dad and my brother had a party for their birthday and I wanted to take a group shot: I could be part of it! By that time, I had no remote controller, and so I had to set a timer... and run! That was fun! You could tell me: "OK, maybe it is better to use a tripod, but for the price, I'd rather put my camera on a chair or on a table". Alright, you could do that, it will just be more difficult to frame. It's up to you. Other situations in which a tripod is very useful include long exposure shots and panorama (you usually need to take a few shots -- or more -- for a panorama, it's much easier if you can just rotate the camera).
Now the price. Tripods start at a very cheap price, that is $20-$30. I
At first I was like you: hundred bucks for an object which only purpose is to hold my camera??
I am sure tripod makers could make an effort on the price, but let me give a few keys to explain the price:
- First, it has to be robust: you don't want your $(1)500 camera to fall because with the lens you used it was too heavy for your tripod. In the same time, you don't want the tripod to be too heavy.
- Second, your tripod does not simply allow you to take a standard horizontal shot. It can rotate your camera to take photos in the angle you choose, and there is often a bull's eye spirit level to help you choose the angle.
- Third, a tripod should be practical to transport. So here come the telescopical parts, the little bag, etc.
This accessory is (almost) indispensable in some cases, just ask yourself if you will encounter these situations.