Choosing the right tripod can be an overwhelming experience; there are so many choices! Aluminum or carbon fiber? Lightweight or heavy? Three leg sections or four? Buy for the equipment I have now, or for the equipment that I might get down the road? Here are a number of things to consider when choosing a new tripod.
Since many cameras and lenses have
you no longer have to use a tripod
in most cases. Having to carry one is a pain and As a result cripples creativity. Digital
has all but Killed The Tripod.
Only use a tripod for still subjects either at
night or when you need long
shutter speeds of about 1/60 or slower.
You don't need a tripod until the shutter speed is long. Today VROS and IS lenses also help obsolete them. Long shutter speeds only
occur at night, you have a cheap lens, or if you are at f/22 for a lot of depth of field.
Bring out a tripod and everyone thinks you're a
professional photographer and then crowd around you as if you somehow have the
only good spot from which to make a
Tripod Leg Types
– Most common
– 3-section more stable than 4-section
• Carbon Fiber
– More easily damaged
– Special purpose (large format)
– Dampens vibrations well
Tripod Leg Manufacturers
• Most popular for pros and serious amateurs:
• Many others are more concerned with gizmos and gadgets than making a
• Bogen/Manfrotto 3021N
– Good aluminum legs for all-around use
– Heavier tripods are available for studio only use
– Lighter tripods are available for serious hiking
• Gitzo GT2330
– Gitzo has many other models
– Talk to a Gitzo user
Tripod Bonus Features
• Leg angle adjustment
– Legs splay out to get tripod low to the ground
• Remove ˝ of Bogen 3021 center column to get lower
• Built-in Level
• Padded Legs
– Option for many tripods
– Cheap: pipe insulation & duct tape
– Won’t freeze your hands in cold weather
– Can rest your tripod on your shoulder when carrying
Number of Leg Sections
Tripods with 3 leg-sections over 4 leg-sections are best for most applications. Let's consider two equivalent Gitzo® mid-range models: the 3 leg-section GT2530 and the 4 leg-section GT2540. The top tube diameter is the same for both models. But since each leg section has to telescope into the previous section, the fourth and final leg section of the GT2540 is quite narrow. In practical terms, the final leg section of the GT2530 is about the width of your thumb, while the final leg section of the GT2540 is about the width of your index finger. Lastly, tripods with 3 leg-sections have only two joints per leg. In general terms, the fewer joints, the better the support; the fewer joints, the less hassle.
But there are times when a tripod with 4 leg-sections is a good choice. If travel and portability are premium considerations for you, tripods with 4 leg-sections always collapse into a shorter closed length. This can often mean the difference between fitting in that carry-on suitcase and leaving your tripod behind.
Aluminum or Carbon Fiber?
Greatest weight to stability ratio; today's high-performance models deliver excellent stability even when ratio of head-to-leg mass drops to about 1.5.
Easier to handle in extreme cold since the leg sections do not get as cold as aluminum.
Dampens vibration faster than aluminum.
Typically half the weight of a comparable aluminum model.
Typically twice the price of a comparable aluminum model.
Typically half the price of a comparable carbon fiber model.
Typically twice the weight of a comparable carbon fiber model.
Height & Center Columns
Remember that this means maximum height and minimum height. Want to have your viewfinder at eye level? Choose a tripod that can extend at least to within about 6-inches of eye level (that remaining 6-inches will be taken up by your ballhead and camera). Want to be at ground level? Choose either a tripod without a center column, or one of the Gitzo Mountaineer models with removable center columns.
Choosing a tripod with or without a center column is a matter of personal choice. Some shooters prefer the Gitzo Systematic series that come with no center column (but they accept a range of Systematic accessories, including optional center columns). Others prefer the versatility that a center column delivers; it sure is handy to just raise the center column a bit when you need that extra inch in height rather than adjusting each leg section. Note that if you do choose a tripod with center column, you'll Best Prices for the best support when your center column is not fully extended (so choose a tripod that is tall enough without the center column fully extended).
Remember that selection of a support system stems from three inputs: personal bias, load, and surroundings. Your goal is to have a solid support system that is more than the sum of its parts. A well-crafted support system is built from the ground up with quality components that enhance the genuine needs and preferences of each shooter. Tripod legs, head, quick-release clamping system, camera and optics—a well chosen combination, used properly, will yield the finest results with every
A tripod is only as good as the
head that sits on top of it. Arguments over which type of head approach the Mac vs. Windows level of fervor at times, with ball head fans swearing that
three-way panning heads can’t touch them, and the reverse. Well, you’ve got plenty of choices no matter which way you go, but
ball heads are clearly gaining in popularity with many more new options on display.
Full size Tripod prices run from $8.95 for the Zeikos ZE-TR26A 50-Inch Full Size Tripod to the Manfrotto 519,542ART Video Kit with 519 Head, 542ART Tripod legs and MBAG100P Padded Tripod Bag (Black) at $2,809.90
Look for a tripod that will, with the tripod head and camera attached, be tall enough for your height without extending the center post. The Bogen 3221/3021 is a good choice if you're less than 6' tall.
Get a tripod that will go to ground level. This is important for close ups and for landscapes.
Make sure your tripod has independent leg movements. In other words, no braces between the legs. The legs should also be able to swing out 90 degrees (or close to that)
A tripod, especially for outdoor work, is nothing to scrimp on. A tripod that is perfectly adequate for indoor work on a flat surface can be a challenge to use in an outdoor environment where the ground is seldom flat and solid.
Bogen/Manfrotto 3021/3221. Same tripod 3021 is silver, 3221 black. $140-187, depending on features.
3001 Shorter, different leg locking mechanism. $87-140 depending on features
Gitzo Very good, expensive. Carbon Fiber and aluminum tripods.
GT3530LSV, G1325—carbon fiber, tall enough for a 6’ person, three leg sections
1320—aluminum, tall enough for a 6’ person, three leg sections
GT3540LS, GT3540LSV. G1348 --carbon fiber, tall, 4 leg sections.
GT1530, GT1540, G1257 and G1258—carbon fiber. For shorter people, 3 and 4 leg sections
A light, flimsy tripod with you is miles better than a big, heavy tripod at home. I have a reasonably nice "professional" tripod, which I very rarely use because it's too big to lug around on foot, and only barely fits into a fairly large suitcase. Knowing what I know now, I might as well not have bought it; the light ones I have get the job done almost as well and they're with me a lot more. So if you're not sure of what you want, go for the smallest and lightest tripod that could possibly work. You can always add a heavy one later if you need it -- and you will almost certainly use the light one as well.
Benbo- Stability linked to versatility and weight is the prime consideration when choosing a tripod. For nearly 40 years Benbo tripods have offered photographers a unique combination of these factors.
Benro - (23) - Originally founded in 1996 as a
cooperative tripod manufacturer, Benro developed and began
marketing its own brand name - Benro Professional Tripods
and Heads - in 2002.
Berlebach- In 1994 thet Berlebach-Stativtechnik appeared on the international world-wide exhibition "photokina"
for the first time and presented its latest range of newly developed and
improved ash wood tripods.
(see Manfrotto) Bogen Imaging Inc. is a wholly owned
subsidiary of the Vitec Group, . Bogen Imaging import and distribute the brands by the Photographic Division of Vitec; Gitzo, Manfrotto, Avenger, Kata
and National Geographic
Bower The Bower name is synonymous with quality products at affordable
prices with a vast selection of photographic accessories. such as lens
adapters, filters, light flashes, tripods
Canon's Deluxe 200 Tripod is made for medium-sized 35mm
cameras with up to a 75-300mm telephoto zoom lens attached.
1" wide maximum diameter leg tubing assures stability,
- Carson manufactures a wide variety of Tripods that
range from table-top Tripods, to full-featured full-sized Tripods.
Carson's full-sized Rock™ series Tripods are sold in intuitive retail
They build tripods, computerized telescopes and manual telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes and microscopes for serious and amateur astronomers and hobbyists."
Cullman- a major manufacturer of prosumer tripods for digital, still and video applications, as well as many niche needs where sturdy equipment support is needed. noted for their outstanding stability and ease of handling
Davis & Sanford
Over the past 75 years, they have built up a diverse line of
well-engineered, sturdy tripods from low-priced, high value tripods for the
weekend image taker to versatile, rugged tripods and everything in between.
The TP-TR62 62-Inch tripod from Digipower is for use with digital cameras, D-SLR's
Sakar International, Inc. is a 30-year old consumer
electronics manufacturer. Their mission has always been to deliver great
product at affordable prices
Knowing the demand and the uprising of digital equipments,
they’ve begin developing the ultimate accessory solution for all consumer
and amateur photographers with competitive pricing, reliable products
(3)Dynex focuses on computer and entertainment accessories
such as storage media, data and power cables, webcams, and
Flashpoint Flashpoint Carbon Fiber Tripods are yet another fine
example that follows in the Flashpoint tradition; high quality tripods that
can go the distance. Made to Adorama's specifications
The Tripod is an ultra portable mounting device for your Flip. Set it up almost anywhere and record anything - even yourself. Comes with 5 sets of colorful interchangeable feet to match your camcorder
Fromm Works See Quik Pod
The Quik Pod Explorer is a boom-style hand-held camera mounting pole that
lets you properly frame and photograph yourself
without having to ask strangers for help
Professional Head Systems, Light-duty Tripod Systems,
Professional Monopod Systems, Pro Mini Tripod, Portable Mini Tripod Systems,
Professional Digital Support Systems, and more
Gitzo S.A. manufactures Photographic accessories, including bags, but specializing in tripods and supports.
Glidecam Industries Inc. offers a wide variety of camera
stabilizers (camera stabilization systems) for use with motion picture
cameras, video cameras, and video camcorders.
Hakuba USA sells tripods under its own brand name, and is the exclusive U.S. distributor of Velbon, the world's best selling tripod Together, the Velbon and Hakuba
represent one of most complete selections of tripods
INDURO. ROCK SOLID, NO MATTER WHAT – these are the perfect
words to define the performance that today’s Pros demand of Tripods, Heads
and Support Accessories.
Joby- They go ape for tripods!
Joby develops innovative accessories for the photography and personal
communications markets. Joby was launched in 2006 as a single-product company with the Gorillapod
Keep your camera steady in any situation—Kodak has a variety of tripods sure to meet your photography needs.
Founded in 2006 to focus on making unique and patented accessor making highly differentiated, “sandbox revolutionary” products for photographers
is a lot of fun to
The Vitec Group a UK company acquired the Manfrotto brand in 1989 manufactures
both camera supports and lighting stands.
Designing and delivering professional fluid heads and
tripods for film and television since 1954. A holder of the first patent for
fluid head design for film cameras in 1946,
The Monostat-RS is a must for steady motion picture shooting. Due to the
friction-bearing design of the foot, involuntary movements around the
longitudinal axis of the leg are prevented while obtaining smooth motion
National Geographic brings a world of experience to
photographic accessories. They have teamed up with Manfrotto
to produce an innovative line of photo and video supports.
The Nikon Full Size Tripod is a fully featured tripod
designed to offer Nikon binocular and scope users a steady
and sturdy support system.
Manufacturers converter lenses and filters for digital point and shoot cameras as well as high magnification telescopic lenses for 35mm SLRs include tripods, flashes, power grips and digital picture frames.
Products that offer a unique selection of support devices
for cameras, spotting scopes, binoculars, and other optical devices. Strong,
compact, and lightweight, these products are ideal travel companions
Quantaray 9002DX is an economical full-size tripod that's ideal for
still and video cameras of all stripes. distinguished
by such features as an oversized leg diameter of 1 inch,
Expandable handheld tripod.
With the QuikPod DSLR Tripod, you can capture excellent self-portrait images or videos. All you need to do is hold the extended QuikPod
with a camera attached
The Ravelli AVT is constructed of pressure treated aluminum
and is unrivalled in stability. This geared tripod
incorporates a unique center brace strut system, reliable
A manufacturer of film and video camera support products and reporter lighting equipment.
Founded in 1958 and was integrated in Great Britain’s Vitec Group plc. in 1995.
Shoot photos and videos like an expert with this 54-inch Samsonite
Camera/Camcorder Tripod. It's just the accessory you need
for shooting that next family portrait!
One of today's leading innovators of consumer electronic accessories. Now nearly a hundred Sima products are sold in more than 20 countries worldwide.
Some companies simply slap their brand name on a cheap copy to make a quick buck. One company even went so far as to list SLIK's
model number on their copy's hanging tag.
Ffounded in 2001, from which it
collaborated with a renowned international photographic
company in the early years, producing high-end photographic
equipments of superior quality.
Smith-Victor Smith-Victor photo and video products Smith-Victor is prospering as part of the Promark International family of brands, which includes Photogenic Professional Lighting (
Designed for easy operation, Sony has a video tripod that
includes a counterbalance mechanism, smooth pan handling and tilting option
to Now, you can start producing beautiful works of art.
• Digital photo frames
• Flash units
• Video lights
• Tripods & Heads • Media cases
• Camera straps and grips
• Step-up/down rings
• Conversion lenses
• Professional studio lighting systems
• Photo batteries
Swarovski - ailored to your birdwatching and nature observation needs and are designed to be used with SWAROVSKI OPTIK
A manufacturer of accessories mostly related to mobile computing. The company has 45 offices worldwide and distribution points in 145 counties. They are a private company owned by private equity firm Fenway Partners.
The advantage of a bean bag support with the security of a
camera mount. Versatile soft camera supports, extremely
affordable, lightweight and portable.
Trek TechThe founders identified a market need based on personal
outdoor experience: a sturdy, lightweight, convenient, multi-purpose device
with the functionality of both a tripod and trekking pole/hiking staff.
Manufactures filters for photography, and other professional film and photography-related products. Founded in 1945, by Sol Tiffen
(Nat's older brother
Vanguard offers an extensive range of high quality products in a wide range of categories that include, binoculars, spotting scopes, soft bags and cases, tripods and TV wall mounts.
VariZoom Manufactures wide range of precision video and photo tripods, dolly &
track systems, pedestals, and the unique Zero Gravity™ tripod head.
Velbon (Velbon Tripod Co., Ltd.) is a manufacturer of photographic accessories,
specializing in tripods.
VidPro Has been revolutionizing the quality of aftermarket accessories. In fact, VidPro has been consistently recognized as a world class supplier, and is acknowledged as an innovator.
A wide range of lightweight, studio and outside broadcast camera support equipment
Here you will find information on all Vinten pan and tilt heads, tripods, and
Vitec Group is an international group serving customers in the broadcast, photographic and military, aerospace and government (MAG) markets. Companies include: Genesis Camera,
The finest in rugged optics when it comes about by paying attention to
detail in every aspect of our business. They are fanatics about doing things
Wimberly Tripod Heads
Things once thought of as impossible with a ballhead are nothing short of mundane with a Wimberley, Point the rig where you want and take the hand away, and it stays where you put it.
A budget electronics and photography accessories company headquartered in
New York. They offer a wide range of products for who they consider
You may want to consider browsing the following manufacturer websites for detailed information about their tripod offerings.
Their websites may offer more information, including product data sheets, than what is available on product
packaging. Note that this list is for informational purposes only: