“Help!” That might be your reaction when looking for a camera tripod on Amazon. You want to find the Perfect camera tripod for photography. But there are just too many choices. It’s like you’re drowning in possibilities. Why can’t there just be one tripod? Or at least a handful to choose from. Rather than a few hundred choices. It strains your brain and, depending on how your day is going, might bring on a mini “panic attack”.
Before you lose your cool, though, read this article. It’s bound to put you in a relaxed mood. For we’ve taken the anxiety out of looking for a camera tripod. We’ve done that by finding the Top 10 camera tripods for photography. Read on and see the 10 best models.
Short on time? Here’s the best one. Our top pick for a tripod is: the MeFOTO Globetrotter Travel Tripod/Monopod Kit (C2350Q2K). It’s a serious tripod, doing many of the same things as competitors like Manfrotto and Gitzo. Yet it’s also a serious value – costing roughly half of what those competitors cost.
How to Choose a Great Tripod
Now, in any discussion of the so-called “best” things; it’s necessary to first know what our criteria are. In other words, what makes the “best” really the best? For camera tripods, we judged them based on a few criteria. Keep these in mind for yourself too, as you go about considering a tripod for your photography needs.
First, there’s price. Kind of the 800 lb gorilla. Photography tends to be an expensive hobby and the costs can certainly add up. So when you need a tripod, it’s definitely worth looking at the price. Asking what it is, and whether you should really drop $X on a given tripod.
Leg Extension Locks
After price, you’ll want to consider as criteria, the tripod’s leg extension locks. Locks matter because they keep a tripod legs from caving. And that’s not exactly something you want. Not when your expensive digital camera is perched on the tripod. Outside and resting above a hard, unforgiving surface. No, the legs need to stay locked. And so the tripod’s leg extension locks are therefore of paramount importance to you. They need to hold up now and over many, many repeated uses.
Next up as far as criteria goes is tripod height. Consider the maximum height that the tripod can go to. This matters since you may not want to have to stoop down to use your tripod. The tripod’s supposed to make taking photos easier. Not force you to lean over.
After height, think about the maximum weight the tripod can support. The load it can take. As with leg extension locks, weight is tremendously important since it determines whether your camera will survive when propped on the tripod. If the tripod cannot take much weight, your camera’s “life” may be at risk each time it goes up on the tripod.
Consider as well what the tripod is made of. The material. Is it carbon fiber or aluminum? The material determines your tripod’s weight. Or, more appropriately, you could say it determines whether it will be a hassle to transport your tripod around.
Make the wrong choice and your tripod will be a hassle to carry around, and to use as well. To keep from making that mistake, keep reading. We’re now ready to unveil our list of the 10 Ranked camera tripods for photography.
Our Top Picks of the Perfect Tripods
What a gem! As noted before, its price is an immediate draw. You will get a small, compact tripod that’s easily toted around. It weighs just 3.5 lbs. And when folded, the tripod goes down to just 16.1 inches. Yet it’s capable of holding up to 26.5 pounds, enough for a massive DSLR body. On top of that (no pun intended), MeFOTO’s Globetrotter can also be used as a monopod. Plus, you can extend it to maximum heights of 64.2 inches (for the tripod) and 66.9 inches (for the monopod). And as “icing on the cake”, you get a travel case (included with purchase) and a choice of aluminum or carbon material.
Then there’s the Gitzo. Gitzo is a much more established brand than MeFOTO. So it was bound to make any list of the best camera tripods. Yet we put it second, primarily because of the price. Sorry, but Gitzo just can’t compare to MeFOTO on price. The Gitzo tripod we found best was the Series 3 Tripod Mountaineer Kit (GK3532-82QD). Like the MeFOTO, its wonderfully light-weight and perfect for toting around. Gitzo’ model has also been carefully engineered so as to work with DSLR cameras having 300Mm-400Mm lenses. Moreover, the design exudes smoothness with a large ball and quick release adapter. Perfect for use with heavier loads. It’s all perfect, apart from the price. Over a thousand dollars for the Gitzo. Not a problem, of course, if you can afford it. Worth the money too. But a major drawback if you can’t.
Our third tripod on the list comes from Manfrotto. This would be Manfrotto’s Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod with Ball Head (MKBFRC4-BH). Its priced far under the Gitzo, in about the same range as the MeFOTO tripod. Manfrotto gives you a 2.4 pound, carbon fiber tripod with its own padded carrying bag. The tripod extends to a respectable max height of 55.91 inches. Weight watchers will appreciate that its load capacity is up to 8.82 lbs. Also, when folded, it comes to just 40 cm. Considering all of this together, you can’t go wrong with Manfrotto’s tripod. For as its name implies, the “Befree” truly lets you the photographer – be free!
We’ve mentioned the importance of guarding your camera, when it’s perched on a tripod. So it’s only fitting that a tripod maker named “Vanguard” would make our list. Vanguard’s particular model here is the Alta Pro 263AB 100, an aluminum tripod kit. How about extreme low-angle photography? You can do that with legs which adjust at up to 80-degree angles. Or how about the ability to easily and securely re-position the central column of the tripod? You can do that too, in a single sweeping motion, with the Alta Pro’s Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock (the “ISSL”). Other details of note are the loading capability of 15.4 pound, the ability to rotate 360 degrees, and retractable spikes on the feet.
Is this really “the ultimate travel tool for photographers”? Tripod-maker Induro certainly thinks so. That’s how they describe the Grand Turismo Series 1 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod 8X (GTT104M1) travel tripod kit. And the tripod itself makes a pretty good case for that too. It features a design focused on supporting up to 22 pounds. Meaning you’re bound to find this camera useful regardless of your particular camera or lens. In addition, you’ll find it great to have a short column on the tripod for low-level photography work. And there are separate positioning and pan controls, so you can coordinate exactly the shots you want. We could go on, but those are already some pretty impressive features. Check out this tripod for yourself and see if it’s the “ultimate” one for you.
Number six on our list is the Z818 Hiking Tripod from ZOMEi. This tripod comes to a compact size of just 18 inches. It’s also a 2-in-1 tripod. That means if you put together the center column and a tripod leg, you’ll get a monopod. Definitely useful, if your passion or work calls for it. Something cool as well about this tripod is the ability to increase its stability. You can do that with a hook at the bottom of its center-column. Using the hook, you can easily hang more weight on the tripod. ZOMEi also focuses on the safety of your tripod. They ensure it will be safe by providing an anodic oxidation processed and anti-corrosion, Magnesium and aluminum alloy tube. That’s a bit of a mouthful. But it really just means that you can take this outside and nearly everywhere without worrying your tripod will get rusted or easily damaged by the elements.
We’ve noted before the need for a tripod to be compact. Davis & Sanford certainly know the importance of this as well. Their Traverse Super Compact Tripod (TR553-P228) is designed to fit in nearly any backpack or carrying bag. At the same time, it can support DSLR cameras with the greatest of ease. How does it do this? With a length (when folded) of just 12 inches, a dual control ball head, and a total weight capacity of 10 pounds. All of which weighs, in total, just 2.6 pounds. And none of which will “weigh” heavily on your wallet.
Where can you take this tripod? Anywhere. Or more like “Neewer”. We’re not sure if that’s the pun its makers are going for in the name. Perhaps they just can’t spell “newer”. But, either way, you can indeed take this tripod (the Neewer Carbon Fiber 66” Camera Tripod/Monopod) anywhere. Its portability is guaranteed at a weight of 4.6 pounds and a length of just 17.7 inches (when folded). Beyond toting it around, the tripod’s ball head has two locks and a 360 degree dial that can quickly be adjusted. This ensures it will function perfectly anywhere – or Neewer – you take it.
Benro’s S8 represents another solid player on the field of great tripods. Unlike some of the others, the tripod from Benro emphasizes video. This emphasis is exemplified in the tripod’s head, which allows you to continuously adjust while both panning and tilting the camera. Benro further distinguishes their tripod with a spreader-less design. Being spreader-less means, you can lock the legs of your tripod at different degrees. Moreover, the thread on top (a 3/8-16 thread) will let you use nearly any compatible tripod head you want. Something you may not want, though, is the price. If you’re not heavily interested in video, you may find the price a bit steep. But if you are or don’t care as much about price, this model from Benro will be a fine choice.
Is this tripod worth it, though? That’s something you’ll need to answer for yourself. We think it deserves at least some consideration, if you’re on a budget. For one thing, Albott’s tripod can support up to 8.8 lbs load capacity. That’s not as much as say the Benro or other tripods we’ve seen. But if you’re not using heavy equipment, it may be suitable. Albott’s tripod also weighs 3.63 pounds, extends to heights of 21-70 inches, and features a quick-release plate ensuring rapid use. It even has a design specifically for the GoPro line of video cameras – which makes it a neat option for capturing quick, on-the-go videos.
Well that does it for our list. 10 great tripods for you to choose from.
If you want the very best though, we recommend going with the MeFOTO Globetrotter. It’s an excellent value for your money, for all the reasons we noted above.
A few other things that make it best include, for example, the ability to turn the Globetrotter into a monopod. That’s something we’ve seen the other tripods on this list can do. So it’s great to see that MeFOTO doesn’t skimp on this, despite its price.
It’s nice too that you get a carrying case. The case is included, like the other higher-priced options. You’re protected too, from extreme temperatures, with a foam grip on the legs.
Also, speaking of legs, this tripod from MeFOTO has both locking grips and anti-rotation on its legs. These features ensure your camera’s safety, supporting it and ensuring your camera won’t wobble around. Also, the ease with which the legs can be operated enables you to quickly set up this tripod. You won’t have to fumbling around with it and miss any opportunity for the “perfect shot”.