Best Tripods

Article Contents

Tripods are invaluable camera companions, allowing for clear photos at longer shutter speeds, eliminating camera shake, and making shooting more comfortable in general. Just as cameras come in a variety of different categories, tripods are available in different types, sizes and builds. Lightweight, inexpensive tripods can be best for point-and-shoot cameras while larger, professional cameras need sturdier tripods with an enhanced weight capacity. For best overall tripod, we considered the product's size in relation to its weight capacity and height range as well as durability and features. Not sure exactly what all those features mean? Get acquainted with tripod basics with our tripod buyer’s guide listed below.

Best Tripod Overall:

Tripods are are often invaluable camera companions, allowing for clear photos at longer shutter speeds, eliminating camera shake and making shooting more comfortable. Just as cameras come in a variety of different categories, tripods are available in different types, sizes and builds. Lightweight inexpensive tripods can be best for point-and-shoot cameras, while larger professional cameras need sturdier tripods with a large weight capacity. For best overall tripod, we considered the product's size in relation to it's weight capacity and height range as well as durability and features.

Gitzo GK3580QR Carbon Fiber Tripod

Sturdy and capable of handling up to 38 pounds, the Gitzo GK3580QR will meet nearly any professional photographer's needs. The tripod is precise, well built and lightweight there's a lot to love. Read Full Review

See it at:
    Gitzo GK3580QR Carbon Fiber Tripod

    3 Legged Thing - Dave Tripod

    Lightweight, yet sturdy and versatile, Dave can handle nearly any scenario. The 3 Legged Thing is a quirky, yet fun brand and they've hit all the right marks with this tripod. It folds to under 16 inches, weighs 2.87 pounds, handles over 26 pounds, reaches up to 64.56 inches and can shoot from as low as 5 inches. Read Full Review

    3 Legged Thing - Dave Tripod

    MeFoto A2350Q2K GlobeTrotter Travel Tripod

    For the professional traveling photographer, the MeFoto is built strong enough to handle over 25 pounds of equipment, yet compact enough to take on an airplane. Well-built with a monopod included, the GlobeTrotter is one of the best options for professionals. Read Full Review

    See it at:
      MeFoto A2350Q2K GlobeTrotter Travel Tripod

      Dolica AX620B100 62" Proline Tripod and Ball Head

      Dolica's budget Proline model is wallet friendly, yet is still made with durable materials. The tripod still includes several features that other models don't at this price point, including a counter weight hook. Read Full Review

      See it at:
        Dolica AX620B100 62" Proline Tripod and Ball Head

        Joby GP1 GorillaPod Flexible Tablepod Tripod

        A flexible mini tripod, the GorillaPod GP1's flexible legs can wrap around almost anything for versatile shooting. Designed for compact cameras, the GorillaPod is extremely lightweight and compact. Read Full Review

        See it at:
          Joby GP1 GorillaPod Flexible Tablepod Tripod

          Best Professional Tripod:

          Professional photographers and videographers need to have high standards when it comes to their tripod. After all, the quality of their equipment will have a direct effect on the quality of their work. Professional tripods need to be solidly constructed, able to support a large load, able to have their height easily changed, and they should have a quick release plate. Professional tripods were ranked based on their weight capacity, height range, durability, and fluid portability thanks to quick set-up and tear-down designs.

          MeFoto A2350Q2K GlobeTrotter Travel Tripod

          For the professional traveling photographer, the MeFoto is built strong enough to handle over 25 pounds of equipment, yet compact enough to take on an airplane. Well-built with a monopod included, the GlobeTrotter is one of the best options for professionals. Read Full Review

          See it at:
            MeFoto A2350Q2K GlobeTrotter Travel Tripod

            3 Legged Thing Evolution 3 Nigel Carbon Fiber Tripod System

            Tough grips, sturdy legs and smooth locks are all part of the 3 Legged Thing Nigel 3 professional tripod. It's offers the perfect blend of support and portability for the traveling professional photographer. Read Full Review

            3 Legged Thing Evolution 3 Nigel Carbon Fiber Tripod System

            Dolica CX700 Professional Carbon Fiber Tripod

            The carbon fiber construction of the Dolica CX700 allows the tripod to support up to 25 pounds of gear, but remains very portable so it travels well. The tripod also has an excellent 20-70 inch height adjustability range. Read Full Review

            Dolica CX700 Professional Carbon Fiber Tripod

            Vanguard Abeo Pro 283AGH Aluminum Tripod Kit

            Handling equipment on rugged terrain is no problem for this tripod, thanks to its spiked feet along with optional sand or snow shoes. This selection is fairly tall too as well, capable of reaching up to a height of 71.25 inches. Read Full Review

            See it at:
              Vanguard Abeo Pro 283AGH Aluminum Tripod Kit

              Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 CF Tripod

              Designed for professionals that shoot both in the studio and on location, the Manfrotto 055 gets high marks for versatility and build quality. From shooting from a low perspective to attaching an arm for accessories, the 055 is worth your consideration for the range of options it offers. Read Full Review

              See it at:
                Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 CF Tripod

                Best Budget Tripod:

                A tripod is one of the most valuable tools available to photographers and videographers with some easily costing over $1,000 (although their high price is a reflection of their quality). But that doesn't mean that there aren't great tripods out there for those of us working within a budget. For less than $75, you can buy an excellent tripod that will keep your camera safe and secure while you’re shooting. These best budget tripods were selected based on the amount of usability features they offer compared to higher priced models and they can all hold about twice their own weight or more in equipment. Since budget tripods can be prone to tipping over, these selections feature excellent stability based on their solid construction and variety of leg placement options.

                Dolica AX620B100 62" Proline Tripod and Ball Head

                Despite being a budget option, this lightweight, aluminum tripod still includes several features that other models don't at this price point. Features normally unheard for a budget model like this include a counter weight hook and three leg angle positions for a variety of shooting options. Read Full Review

                See it at:
                  Dolica AX620B100 62" Proline Tripod and Ball Head

                  Davis & Sanford VOYAGERLTB Vista Voyager Lite Tripod with BHQ8 Ball Headca

                  The Davis and Sanford Voyager can handle eight pounds of equipment which is more than most other tripods in this price range. Sturdy, yet lightweight thanks to its aluminum construction, the Voyager also has more versatile height options than other similarly priced models. Read Full Review

                  Davis & Sanford VOYAGERLTB Vista Voyager Lite Tripod with BHQ8 Ball Headca

                  Manfrotto MKC3-P01 Compact Photo Kit

                  Manfrotto's Compact Photo kit is one of the smallest on the market, yet it can still reach a height of 60 inches. Weighing a bit over two pounds and featuring a built-in quick release plate, it's a nice piece of equipment for casual photographers. Read Full Review

                  Manfrotto MKC3-P01 Compact Photo Kit

                  Vanguard Espod CX 203AGH 3-section legs Tripod with GH-20 Pistol Grip Ball Head

                  The lightweight Vanguard Espod CX203 stands out for its ergonomic pistol-style hand grip and capability to handle up to seven pounds of equipment. It also includes some nice extras, like a quick release plate and three leg sections for enhanced stability. Read Full Review

                  See it at:
                    Vanguard Espod CX 203AGH 3-section legs Tripod with GH-20 Pistol Grip Ball Head

                    Sunpak PlatinumPlus 5858D Tripod

                    When the budget is minimal, Sunpack is a good brand to look to for a tripod and their 5858D is no exception. This very affordable option holds up to eight pounds of equipment weight and is quite portable, collapsing down to just 22 inches. Read Full Review

                    See it at:
                      Sunpak PlatinumPlus 5858D Tripod

                      Best Lightweight Tripod:

                      Lightweight tripods are extremely useful in situations where your camera needs to be constantly moved all day. Heavy equipment can hamper mobility speed and the constant act of picking them up and putting down over time will cause fatigue.

                      You need to be really careful when selecting a lightweight tripod because quite a few of them have flimsy construction, meaning the camera may not be absolutely still during exposure. Lightweight tripods can also be susceptible to being top heavy, which can cause the camera to come crashing down if left unattended. It’s important to select a modelwith a wide spread and strong legs to comfortably support cameras with telephoto lenses.

                      These best lightweight tripods were selected on both their solid weight and ability to hold weight, as well as folded length, minimum and maximum height, and durability. When all other factors were similar, affordability was also taken into consideration.

                      3 Legged Thing Punks-VYV Magnesium Tripod with Airhed Ball Head

                      One of 3 Legged Things newest travel tripods, VYV is easy to transport. Despite weighing less than three pounds, it can hold 22 pounds of equipment. This sturdy tripod also features three different leg angles and a monopod feature. Read Full Review

                      See it at:
                        3 Legged Thing Punks-VYV Magnesium Tripod with Airhed Ball Head

                        Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod

                        The Sirui T-025X can fold down to under a foot, making it a nice pick for the traveling photographer. It weighs less than two pounds but can handle about 13 pounds. Plus, the removable center column allows this tripod to be used at short heights too. Read Full Review

                        See it at:
                          Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod

                          Dolica GX600B200 Proline GX Series 60-Inch Aluminum Tripod

                          The Dolica GX600B200 is best because the range of capabilities including 60-inch height, weighs just 2.5 pound weight, and has a 15 pound load capacity. Despite retailing for about $80, the Dolica is constructed with sturdy aluminum alloy and has comfortable grips. Read Full Review

                          See it at:
                            Dolica GX600B200 Proline GX Series 60-Inch Aluminum Tripod

                            MeFoto RoadTrip Tripod

                            The MeFoto Roadtrip doubles as both a tripod and monopod which saves even more space for the traveling photographer who would otherwise have to pack both. The RoadTrip weighs 3.6 pounds and handles just over 17 pounds while folding down to less than 15.5 inches. Read Full Review

                            See it at:
                              MeFoto RoadTrip Tripod

                              Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod with Ball Head

                              Travelers, take note: Manfrotto BeFree folds to less than 16-inches and includes a carrying case for easy portability. The carbon fiber legs make for a sturdy construction without extra weight, while two different leg positions offer added versatility. Read Full Review

                              See it at:
                                Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod with Ball Head

                                Best Mini Tripod:

                                Mini tabletop tripods are popular for their compact size and inexpensive price. For product and macro photographers, mini tripods are much easier to work with than larger options. The trouble is, most mini tripods can't hold up much equipment weight so it takes some digging to find one suited for a heavier camera like an SLR. Mini tripods come in a few different types with some having flexible legs while others have solid legs. These mini tripods were chosen because they all weigh a pound or less for easy portability yet they’re all capable of supporting at least four times their own weight. These options also include the most usability features for their price and offer better-than-average stability based on their excellent construction.

                                Joby GP1 GorillaPod Flexible Tablepod Tripod

                                The GorillaPod GP1's is a highly flexible tripod with legs which can wrap around almost anything for versatile shooting. Designed for compact cameras, the GorillaPod is extremely lightweight and compact, measuring under 6-inches long and weighing just 1.6 ounces. Read Full Review

                                See it at:
                                  Joby GP1 GorillaPod Flexible Tablepod Tripod

                                  Manfrotto MTPIXI-B Pixi Mini Tripod

                                  Simple, sturdy and small, there's a lot to love about Manfrotto's Pixi. This lightweight mini tripod collapses and stows away easily, yet pans and tilts with no problem. Weighing about a half pound, it's capable of supporting a little over two pounds. Read Full Review

                                  See it at:
                                    Manfrotto MTPIXI-B Pixi Mini Tripod

                                    Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Camera Tripod

                                    The Pedco is a sturdy, yet flexible tripod which can be attached to other objects with the use of its included cinch strap. This four ounce mini tripod can handle up to six pounds, so you can potentially use it for more than just point and shoots. Read Full Review

                                    See it at:
                                      Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Camera Tripod

                                      Vanguard VS-82 Tabletop Mini Tripod

                                      One of the best mini tripods the Vanguard VS 82 is an excellent option for individuals looking to shoot video as well as photos. Although the VS 82 weighs less than a pound, it can support 5.5 pounds of weight as well as including a pan head and handle, a rarity in this category. Read Full Review

                                      See it at:
                                        Vanguard VS-82 Tabletop Mini Tripod

                                        Giottos QU405 U-Pod Mini Tripod

                                        Giottos has a reputation for their high quality tripods and this mini tripod is no exception which gives you the option to be used a flash stand or mini monopod. While mini tripods that can hold a lot of weight are hard to find, this one has an 11 pound capacity of 11 pounds so you can use it with a DSLR/large lens combo or for a heavy video camera. Read Full Review

                                        Giottos QU405 U-Pod Mini Tripod

                                        Best Tripod Head:

                                        While the tripod legs are where most of the height, weight and stability lie, the tripod's head is what allows for fluid movement, panning, angle adjustments and more. Tripod heads come in a few different types including the basic ballhead, gimbal heads for telephoto lenses and geared heads for smoother adjustments. Tripod heads need to have good panning and tilting, as well as strong locks to keep the camera steady. Quick release plates are also essential for quick set ups and tear downs. These best tripod heads were selected for their range of motion, durability, and weight capacity.

                                        Manfrotto MHXPRO3W X-PRO 3-Way Head with Retractable Levers and Friction Controls

                                        The Manfrotto X-Pro 3 Way Head is built for travel. It weighs about two pounds but can handle over 17 pounds and yet fits neatly inside a camera bag, thanks to the tripods retractable levers. Read Full Review

                                        See it at:
                                          Manfrotto MHXPRO3W X-PRO 3-Way Head with Retractable Levers and Friction Controls

                                          Induro GHB2 Gimbal Tripod Head

                                          Large telephoto lenses need to be kept sturdy, or the large zoom range will result in blurred images. The Induro BHB2 keeps large gear steady, yet allows for smooth, fast subject tracking. Read Full Review

                                          See it at:
                                            Induro GHB2 Gimbal Tripod Head

                                            Manfrotto 410 Junior Gear Head

                                            Smooth but bulky geared heads have met in the middle in Manfrotto's Junior Geared Head, which offers the precise adjustments without all the bulk. Weighing less than three pounds, this tripod head can handle up to 11 pounds of equipment. Read Full Review

                                            See it at:
                                              Manfrotto 410 Junior Gear Head

                                              Vanguard GH300T Pistol Grip Ballhead

                                              With an innovative shutter release built right into the pistol grip, this Vanguard GH-300T is hard to ignore. Along with the unique release, the ballhead is versatile and can support up to 17.5 pounds of equipment. Read Full Review

                                              See it at:
                                                Vanguard GH300T Pistol Grip Ballhead

                                                Induro BHD2 Ballhead Tripod Head

                                                Have a low budget for a tripod head but got heavy gear to support? The Induro BHD2 can handle nearly 40 pounds of equipment, despite weighing less than two pounds itself. For the price, this product has a lot to offer. Read Full Review

                                                See it at:
                                                  Induro BHD2 Ballhead Tripod Head

                                                  Best Tripod Legs:

                                                  Most of a tripod's features including the stability, height range, weight and capacity (to name a few) are dependent on its legs. Tripod legs can be constructed with the ultimate portability in mind, or with the best weight capacity as top priority. Carbon fiber tripod legs are a popular option for their durability and low weight, but are also a more expensive option. Aluminum is another good option, but tends to add to the overall weight. We've rounded up the best tripods legs out there with all of these picks capable of holding up at least three times their own weight, have lightweight but durable carbon fiber or aluminum construction, and use either three leg sections for optimum stability or four to five for when portability takes precedence for the user.

                                                  Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 CF Tripod

                                                  Manfrotto's CXPRO3 tripod is top notch for the center column and the exceptional construction. The center column allows for a range of versatile height placement options, while the magnesium alloy construction means a big load-bearing in an otherwise lightweight tripod. Read Full Review

                                                  See it at:
                                                    Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 CF Tripod

                                                    Sirui T-1205X Five-Section Carbon Tripod

                                                    Few tripod leg systems can handle over 20 pounds but weigh less than two such as the Sirui T-1205X. This tripod folds down to a compact 13 inches for storage while permitting shots from 5.1 to 55.4 inches. Read Full Review

                                                    See it at:
                                                      Sirui T-1205X Five-Section Carbon Tripod

                                                      Induro Carbon CT314 Carbon Fiber Legs

                                                      Are you a tall photographer? Have over 20 pounds in camera equipment? The Induro Carbon Fiber CT314 tripod leg set is the best option for heavy equipment and high shooting, handing nearly 40 pounds of gear and reaching over 74 inches. Read Full Review

                                                      See it at:
                                                        Induro Carbon CT314 Carbon Fiber Legs

                                                        Gitzo GT1542T Series 1 6X Carbon Fiber Traveler 4 Section G-Lock Tripod

                                                        Lightweight, yet capable of handling over 17 pounds of gear, the Gitzo Traveler Carbon Fiber legs are an excellent option for photographers and videographers on the go. The size isn't the only perk, however, as this Gitzo tripod features a reversible center column and weight hook as well. Read Full Review

                                                        See it at:
                                                          Gitzo GT1542T Series 1 6X Carbon Fiber Traveler 4 Section G-Lock Tripod

                                                          Oben AC-2361L 3-Section Aluminum Lateral Tripod Legs

                                                          If the weight of the tripod itself isn't a top priority for you, these Oben legs may save you a few bucks. It still features a rotating center column and a good range of versatility. Compared to our top pick, it's just heavier but a whole lot more affordable. Read Full Review

                                                          See it at:
                                                            Oben AC-2361L 3-Section Aluminum Lateral Tripod Legs
                                                             

                                                            Tripod Buyer's Guide

                                                            Tripods are inexpensive, yet beginners often overlook this essential piece of photography equipment which can make shooting more precise and comfortable. Tripods make it possible to shoot with slow shutter speeds without blur. They also allow for still life pictures in dim conditions to be taken at low ISOs. They assist in creating a panning affect and are also handy for using the self timer to take a selfie that doesn't actually look like a selfie.

                                                            As versatile as a tripod is, there are quite a few features to consider. Check out the weight capacity, height, weight, and length of the unit when folded, the construction, the number of leg sections and the type of head, as well as extras like a center column and adjustable leg angles. Weigh the options with the type of shooting you do most—for example, if you travel you may want more leg sections so the tripod fits in your carry-on, but if you always shoot near home, you may choose fewer leg sections for more stability.

                                                            Tripod Types

                                                            Professional
                                                            As their name implies, professional tripods are used by photography experts. They're the best of the best, but also have a price tag to match when amateurs and enthusiasts can get away with using less expensive models. Expect to see high quality construction, a high weight capacity, and lots of extra features.

                                                            Budget
                                                            Tripods don't have to be $500 and many consumers can spend less than $100 and still buy a tripod to meet their needs. These tripods are often heavier with fewer features but typically get the job done.

                                                            Lightweight
                                                            These tripods are designed specifically to travel well, being lightweight and typically fold down well within most airline's carry-on requirements. By using sturdy, lightweight materials like magnesium alloy, many of these tripods can still hold heavy equipment despite weighing less themselves.

                                                            Mini
                                                            Also called tabletop tripods, these products help keep your camera steady for macro or product photography images. They can't be used in a wide variety of shots, but they're inexpensive, extremely portable, and for simple product photography, they’re really all that's needed.

                                                            Versatility

                                                            Weight Capacity
                                                            Not every tripod is suited for every camera. Each one will list a weight limit so before you buy one, make sure your camera plus your heaviest lens and accessories don't exceed the tripods specified weight limit. If you have a bulky, full frame camera and a large telephoto lens, you'll need to find a tripod with a high weight capacity. If you shoot mirrorless or with a simple point-and-shoot, you can probably save some cash by choosing a model with a lower weight capacity, though you could still work with a higher one just as well.

                                                            Height
                                                            Most consumers realize a tripod has a maximum height, and if you're tall you'll obviously want a taller tripod for using your camera at eye level. But tripods also have minimum heights listed as well. Scenarios like shooting macro or photographing while sitting on the ground all would require the tripod to fold down to a lower height. The greater the difference between the minimum and maximum height, the more versatile the tripod is, allowing it to be used for a variety of different shooting positions.

                                                            Portability
                                                            The biggest downside to using a tripod is it’s often a bulky piece of equipment to carry around. But, many manufacturers have worked to create fully functional tripods which can fit in tiny spaces. If you do a lot of traveling or on-site photography, check and see how much weight the tripod will add to your load. You should also consider the folded length as many are designed to fit inside carry-on luggage or right in a large camera backpack.

                                                            If, on the other hand, you own a studio and won't be traveling with the tripod, it's unnecessary to spend more for a portable model. Just like for cameras, manufacturers often charge a higher price when packing the same features into a smaller package.

                                                            Material
                                                            Not all tripods are created equally stable. Cheap tripods aren't as stable as their professional counterparts. The material the tripod is constructed from determines the durability, as well as some of the stability. Carbon fiber tripods are usually the best, because the material is lightweight but also stable. Aluminum is the next best thing, although heavier.

                                                            Number of Leg Sections
                                                            A tripod is made with a number of leg sections which allow it to fold up. Typically, 5-6 sections allow the tripod to fold into a more compact space. However, the more leg sections the tripod has, the less stable it is. Dividing up the legs into sections takes away some of the stability so look for an option with three or four leg sections, especially if you commonly shoot in windy conditions.

                                                            Extra Features

                                                            Tripod Head
                                                            The head of the tripod, or the part the camera sits on, can be one of three types.

                                                            A pan-tilt head is the cheapest option, allowing the camera to pan either horizontally or vertically.

                                                            A ball-head allows for more flexible panning than simply straight horizontal and vertical motions.

                                                            Gimbal heads are perfectly balanced for following fast action with a long, heavy lens.

                                                            Also consider whether the tripod head includes a quick release plate, which prevents you from having to screw the camera in every time you want to use the tripod.

                                                            Center Columns
                                                            Essentially posts that the tripod head sits on that can be used for faster height adjustments. While the faster height adjustments are nice, it's also the most unstable part of the tripod, and using a long center column could introduce camera shake.

                                                            Bag Hook
                                                            Keeps your camera bag off the ground and uses the bag as a weight for added stability.

                                                            Interchangeable Tripod Feet
                                                            Allow you to get the most stability no matter what surface the tripod is sitting on.

                                                            Adjustable Leg Angles
                                                            Permit more height versatility. While wider angles will be more stable, they will also take up more floor space.

                                                            Leave a Question or Comment