How to Pick the Best Tripod for Your Camera

Technology  ·  Guides   Updated December 2019

 A tripod is a tool to keep your camera steady. They are especially useful in difficult light conditions or when taking photos with super zoom lenses. In such situation a lack of tripod could result in blurry photos.

When looking for a perfect tripod, there are a few things to look out for:

Aluminum or Carbon Fiber?

As the name suggests, tripods have three legs. They are usually made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Aluminum tripods can be very stable, but that also depends on the leg thickness. Similarly sized carbon fiber legs can be even stiffer and stronger than their aluminum counterparts, and they will usually be significantly lighter. The downside to carbon fiber tripods is that they are usually roughly twice as expensive.

How Many Leg Sections?

Most tripods have telescopic legs, which you can extend and lock in their place. The numbers of sections vary, but it's rarely more than four.

More sections mean that your tripod will collapse to a more portable size, so that you can travel with it easily. On the other hand, there will be a bit more locking/unlocking to do each time you will want to use it.

 

Photo by wakanmuri

 

Locking Legs

After you extend your tripod's telescopic legs to their full length, you will need to lock them into place. There are two main types of leg locks, the most popular being quick release lock. It is fast to use and you can see clearly whether the leg section is locked or unlocked.

The second type is twist lock. It is usually a bit more difficult/slower to use and it can be harder to see the current lock/unlock position. The advantage of twist locks is that they don't stick out and therefore take a bit less space.

Leg Feet & Covers

Tripods usually have rubber feet, but there are also tripods with spikes. They can work better on unstable or loose terrain. Some tripods have both, where spikes are covered by screw-on rubber feet.

Center Column

The column makes it possible to raise the camera even higher that the fully extended legs allow. The center column allows you to direct the camera at different. In addition, some of them have a built-in hook at the bottom so that you can hang extra weight there (e.g. your camera bag) to further stabilize the tripod. This could be useful when your camera is heavy relative to the size of the tripod, and in strong wind.

Tripod Head

Usually tripods come with one of the two types of heads: ball head and pan & tilt head. Ball heads allow camera movement in all different directions, which can then be locked still in place. They are easy and fast to use and sometimes come with a bubble leveler for assistance.

With pan and tilt heads you can adjust your camera mainly with a pan and tilt, which makes them especially suitable for tracking moving subjects such as wildlife.

How to Choose the Best Tripod?

There are few things to look for when buying a tripod. First of all, stay away from cheap plastic tripods, which might not be able to hold your camera safely in place and will not last long. Secondly, take into account the weight and size of tripod, especially if you intend to go hiking with it. Thirdly, do your own research, read as many reviews as possible.

Below you find a few tripods we found particularly interesting:

Gitzo GT2540 Series 2 6X 4-Section

 
   
    Gitzo GT2540 Series 2 6X 4-Section
In Stock.
Amazon
User Comments & Reviews
Cool locking column option which is handy when you have to get into an unusual position or tough angle.  
Joe McNally ·  Best Photography Blogs

Gitzo GT2542 Mountaineer

GT2542 is one of the most popular professional tripods from Gitzo. It is both stiff and ultralight thanks to its carbon fiber tubes. It weighs only 3.7 pounds and can hold D-SLR cameras with lenses up to 300mm at the maximum height of 65.75 inches.

   
    Gitzo GT2542 Mountaineer
In Stock.
Amazon
User Comments & Reviews
Gitzo is the top tripod manufacturer for professional photographers, it’s more expensive than most but they are built to last  
Gone With the Wynns ·  Best Sailing Blogs

GlobeTrotter Tripod Kit

This GlobeTrotter tripod is made of carbon fiber and is both very sturdy and lightweight. It is perfectly balanced, but to further increase stabiIity it comes with a hook on the center column, which can be used to hang additional weight. It features 360-degree panning which makes it very easy to align panorama images. It has a built-in bubble level to prevent uneven panning.

   
    GlobeTrotter Tripod Kit
In Stock.
Amazon
User Comments & Reviews
I carry it in my Roadtrek at all times and use it for my DSLR and video cameras.  
Roadtreking ·  Best RV Blogs

Manfrotto MVH502A

Manfrotto MVH502A is a professional tripod built for use with HDSLR cameras. It features a 75mm half ball video mount and a counterbalance for the most popular cameras and accessories. It's made of aluminum, weighs around 12 pounds. It has a spreader in its mid-section to further increase stability. It can support equipment up to 15.4 pounds. (7kg)

   
    Manfrotto MVH502A
In Stock.
Amazon
User Comments & Reviews
I use this mostly for studio work.  
Roadtreking ·  Best RV Blogs
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