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Steady Your Photos And Videos With Ease: Best Tripods

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? Checkout our top picks for best tripods in 2021.

Here are the best tripods of 2021

Dolica Proline Tripod

Dolica's Proline tripod retails for under $70, yet still uses the lightweight yet sturdy aluminum alloy, making it capable of handling 13.2 pounds but weighing only 2.5. The tripod can reach up to 60 inches (Dolica also makes similar 68 inch and 73 inch models) but can shoot from as low as 21.5 inches. Closed, the tripod is 22.5 inches. This budget tripod also has three leg angle positions, panoramic panning a center column and center weight hook. The legs lock in place with flip levers.

Manfrotto Compact Photo Kit Tripod

Manfrotto's Compact Photo kit is small when folded, but doesn't sacrifice on height when extended. It reaches over 60 inches, yet can shoot from as low as 16.1 inches along with a center column that reverses to make it even more compact when stored. Weighing only 2.2 pounds, it's perfect for travel because when folded up it can easily fit in a suitcase or large bag and there’s a built-in quick release plate for faster setup and tear down. Capable of handling a little over 3.3 pounds, it's a nice companion for the compact camera user, but DSLR users will want to look for something with a much higher weight capacity.

Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod

The design of the Manfrotto Pixi Mini allows for easy set up, yet folds down enough to easily fit inside a bag. The ball head allows for tilting and panning while a push lock let’s you keep shooting angles firmly in place. In a closed position, this mini tripod could also be used as a camera grip as well. The Pixi weighs about a half pound and can support a little over two pounds worth of equipment weight. Manufactured with stainless steel, the sturdy Pixi is five inches wide when the legs are extended and closes up to about seven.

Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod

Professionals often have to worry about supporting more than just their camera as there's often extra lighting equipment to consider as well. The Manfrotto 055 tripod can help with an attachment arm allows for the placement of something like a slave flash for example. This tripod is also pretty versatile, with four different leg angles and a height range which extends from 3.54 to 66.93 inches. The center column also rotates which provides photographer for even more positions to shoot from. Constructed with carbon fiber and a new rigid locking system, the tripod doesn't sacrifice stability in any way to maintain its lightweight design. This support system will hold nearly 20 pounds of equipment, but the legs themselves weigh only a mere 4.41 pounds.

KobraTech 70 inch Tripod For Phone and Camera

This Monopod and Tripod is the perfect tripod, and it comes with all you need whether you are using a smartphone, camera, or the two. With this device, you can take videos and photos like an expert!

The 70-inch Tripod for Camera and Phone by KobraTech defines class, durability, and strength. The tripod stand is made using high-quality aluminum, which gives it lightweight and durable features. The Tripod comes with an in-built monopod which makes it ideal for sports or wildlife. A unique added feature of this tripod is that it comes with items such as UniMount, 2x base plates, and QuickPic Bluetooth Remote Shutter and travel tripod bag. You can quickly expand the Apex A70 camera tripod by up to 70 inches and take professional shots.

3 Legged Thing Lightweight Tripod

Buying a tripod often means choosing between the best support and the most portability, but 3 Legged Thing's Nigel 3 blends the best of both. It can handle 22 pounds (10kg) of equipment in any weather condition and supported by legs weighing 3.5 pounds (1600g). The height range allows photographers to shoot from as low as 4.8 inches, or as high as 67 inches. Designed to withstand harsh conditions, Nigel is built with carbon fiber and includes feet to grip a variety of surfaces. There's also a number of nice accessories including multiple mount points as well a Carabiner and D Ring.

Vanguard Tabletop Mini Tripod

The Vanguard VS-82 tabletop tripod extends out to almost 10 inches and can handle 5.5 pounds of equipment making it ideal for use by videographers. Manufactured from quality aluminum, it also features a two way panhead and handle along with sturdy, non-skid feet. When folded up, this mini tripod comes close to about nine inches, making it not quite as compact as some models. However, the pan head and handle features is hard to come by in this tripod category making it worth your consideration.

MeFoto RoadTrip Tripod

The MeFoto RoadTrip weighs in at 3.6 pounds yet can support up to 17.6 pounds. When folded, the Roadtrip tripod is just under 15.5 inches and also reduces your equipment load by doubling as a monopod; one leg detaches and screws into the head, so you won't have to pack both items. The legs can be set at two different angles, allowing for shorter shots at wide angles or less floor space at narrower angles. With an included 360 degree pan-enabled head, the RoadTrip is a good option for videographers too.

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.

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