The Ultimate Guide to Tripods


So, you need to know what the best tripods for macro photography are. 

Tripods are tools for creativity. They allow you to control light more easily, not just maintain a low-light environment. Even many photographers of the past would not do without a tripod. This thing can really come in handy when you shoot events actively.

Despite all the image stabilization systems choosing a tripod is always a compromise. There are a lot of other parameters in this task. You need to consider reliability, stability and lightweight, price, quality, and usability. So what, above all, should you pay attention to? We've figured out what types of tripods there are. And also what parameters you should pay attention to when choosing a tripod.

Why Bother With a Tripod?

Why Bother With a Tripod

The tripod eliminates vibration, oscillation, and jerk, improving image quality, sharpness, and detail. You can choose a slower shutter speed (when the camera's shutter is open). Shooting portraits allows you to work in natural light without the color-distorting flash.

The tripod photography allows you to achieve the greatest stability when shooting video. The tripod photographer can focus on getting the right angle and move the lens smoothly. 

The tripod is indispensable for amateur TimeLapse shooting. This is an accelerated video that captures changes in the landscape. And they are invisible to the human eye. As the camera stands in the same position for several days. It captures a single frame at intervals ranging from 1 second to 1 hour.

The question of what tripod to get for the camera arises in the following cases:

  • when shooting in HDR mode - the camera combines several frames into one. It increases contrast and improves color reproduction. The slightest fluctuations during shooting can "blur" the image;
  • when photographing the starry sky. The shutter speed in this case reaches 30-60 minutes. Photographs show the stars in motion. So they need the best outdoor tripod. If you want to depict them by dots, you need a special astronomical tripod with an electric drive;
  • in macro photography - the photographer is working with microscopic objects. And it's difficult to get sharpness. The tripod eliminates interference caused by handshake. So the pictures are sharper and clearer. We will tell about the best tripods for macro photography.

How to Choose a Tripod?

First, you need to understand that there is no such thing as a perfect tripod. There are three basic characteristics - stability, lightness, and moderate price. But a tripod can combine no more than two simultaneously. 

That is, in all cases, you will have to compromise. That is why professionals usually have several tripods for different occasions. Read below about types of tripods for different occasions:

  • For a camera needs a stable tripod weighing between 1.5 and 2 kg with an articulating 2D head. It allows you to rotate the device right-left and up-down, adjusting the angle of rotation and tilt.
  • Your camcorder requires a lighter (no more than 3-3.5 kg) mobile tripod with a 3D head. You can tilt the device sideways to choose the right angle. A cheap tripod for photographer has hinges but allow small jerks when moving the lens. For smooth movement, you'll need fluid cartridges filled with thick oil. It stabilizes camera movement. By varying the pressure, you can adjust the resistance and speed of movement.
  • For a phone, you need a compact version - up to 25-30 cm in length when folded. Some tripods for smartphones transform into selfie sticks.

But what should you look for when choosing a tripod? The general indicators are:

1. Material and weight

Tripods come in steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber. The most budgetary and heaviest are steel, and the lightest and most expensive are carbon. 

But when choosing the best outdoor tripod the high price does not mean you get an advantage for the overpaid money. The main question is: What type of photography do you need your tripod for? After all, the more it weighs, the more stable it is. 

If you take a tripod for macro photography, studio, or amateur travel photography, think about lighter models.

Photographers often use a steel tripod to:

  • accommodate studio lights;
  • bulky light-forming attachments. 

They are good because of their stability.

2. Load capacity

This is how much weight a tripod for a photographer can support. A phone weighing a couple of hundred grams is one thing. It's another thing to have a DSLR with a telephoto lens. It can weigh up to several kilograms. Especially if the camera has an external flash.

If your camera's heaviest lens weighs 2 kilograms, get a tripod with an extra load capacity. For example, 3 kilograms or more. 

3. Max and min-height

Tripods can have different min and max heights:

  • For example, tripods have the smallest height of 5 to 150 centimeters (the best outdoor tripod). And the greatest height is from 10 centimeters to 180 centimeters. 
  • For example, the tripod Manfrotto MT057C4 has a least height of 23 cm and a greatest height of 180 cm.

We recommend that you pay attention to the context of your height when choosing the max. tripod height. A tall person may not be comfortable bending down to look through the viewfinder.

You should also consider that for portraits the ideal tripod height is between 1.5 and 1.8 meters. It works if the height is not decisive for you and you often take pictures of people. But, just as with the max load, it is better to take a surplus.

 4. Type of tripod head

You need a tripod head to make it easier to tilt and rotate the camera and change the framing and angle.

The types of tripods’ heads can be:

  • ball. It is a ball clamped on all sides with a locking mechanism on top to hold the camera. Allows you to rotate the camera in any direction. But it is not the most reliable mount. There is a high probability that a heavy camera with a lens and extra accessories will not hold the ball head;
  • swivel. It has two or three axes of rotation (so-called 2d or 3d). There is a different arm for each axis of rotation. For example, to tilt the camera forward, you need to:
    - unscrew the arm;
    - set it to the desired position;
    - then lock it by screwing it in. 
  • pistol grip. It is common in mini types of tripods. When you press the knob, you can give the tripod any position. But as soon as you release the knob, the tripod stays in that position;
  • fluid head. Most often used for video shooting. Allows you to move the camera due to the fluid mechanism, which is handy when shooting panoramas.

Some tripods have an actuator that raises the center boom. It is a mechanism with a handle that allows you to adjust the tripod's height further. 

5. Type of camera mount: screw or pad with a screw

The way how you attach the camera to the tripod. In essence, these options are similar, but the platform is more convenient. Since you don't have to bolt your camera to the tripod photography while holding both lenses. 

It doesn't sound that complicated. But imagine that the tripod weighs two pounds and so does your camera and lens. The pad with the screw is in the tripod with an extra attachment:

  • first, you have to detach the pad, which weighs a couple of tens of grams;
  • then screw it to the camera, and this structure is already attached to the tripod. 

This method will save time and nerves when you consider what tripod to get. After all, you don't have to juggle a tripod and expensive equipment at the same time. 

6. Apparatus level 

It lets set your tripod, so you don't mess up the horizon or the angle. It is useful if you're shooting on an uneven surface. For example, you can use it in:

  • the woods on mossy hillocks;
  • fields;
  • dirt roads;
  • rocky terrain, etc. 

7. Tripod legs

  • Number of sections. You can find from one to six sections. The more of them, the neater you can put the tripod on an uneven surface and more accurately adjust the height. Consider it when choosing the best tripods for macro photography. Also, the more legs, the more compact you can fold the tripod, but the less reliable and stable it can be.
  • Type of section mounts. You can fasten it to each other with snaps or screws. The first way is faster. The second is more reliable. But do not give up on the mounts, which allow you to start shooting in a couple of moments. Remember, that you will have to pay extra for quality mounts and look at less expensive models.  
  • The diameter at which the legs separate. It is important if you think about the stability of your tripod. The closer the legs are to each other, the more unstable the construction. 
  • Leg tips. They come in rubberized and spiked versions. The former is used for shooting indoors, on smooth, flat surfaces. Spikes also better enable you to fix the tripod on the ground and grass and are suitable for filming in nature. Use this info to choose the best outdoor tripod. 

What kinds of tripods are there? 

What Equipment Do You Need for Photography Lighting

Today, technology is far ahead. Even a professional camera with "serious" optics will weigh about 2kg. We do not mention semi-professional DSLRs or amateur cameras. Still, even the most compact camera has a tripod jack. And it is not made by chance. 

Tripods are a necessary attribute for any photographer, whether they are an experienced amateur, a real professional, or a young photographer just starting their "path" of photography.

Let's see what types of tripods are. What they serve, and what criteria they are classified according to. And what their main features are.


A classic tripod for photographers stands on three legs. Usually, when we say "tripod," we think of a tripod of this design. You attach the legs of the tripod to the center stick with spacers. This increases its statics. They are good for:

  • landscape and architecture photography. We can say that they are the best outdoor tripods;
  • any kind of long-exposure photography;
  • collage when an equal angle of exposure is important;
  • if you shoot portraits in a studio with natural and not too bright light. And you need a slow shutter speed and ISO to get a good exposure. 

Budget models for amateurs will cost from 100 to 200 dollars. For example, a Benro C1570FB1 tripod costs just 300$. At the same time, it can withstand a load of 8kg compared to Raylab's 4kg. It will help to make the best photos for your portfolio.

Quadropods and hexapods are also used in filmmaking. These are tripods on four and six "legs" for professional video equipment. 

Mini tripod

These are tripods for phones and amateur cameras. They are the best tripods for macro photography.  As a rule, the length of the support structures of such tripods is small - they are not tall, so you cannot put the camera in a clear field and shoot a full-length portrait. But you can use them in silhouette photos.

They include:

  • tripods with additional leg struts. They are attached to the surfaces by a clamping screw;
  • tripods on flexible legs;
  • table tripods. They are like tripods, but only smaller;

Clamps and tripods on flexible legs allow you to mount your camera on almost any surface. Thanks to their unusual mounting, you can put the camera:

  • at any height;
  • at the most unusual angle. 

They also have the advantage of low weight and size, making it easy to take the accessory with you. Such a tripod for photographers is great for those who want to experiment while shooting. 


It is a tripod on one "leg". It is a folding tube, one of which you place on the floor and the other you attach to your camera or lens. There are very small monopods for phones. They also work fine as best tripods for macro photography. These include selfie sticks.

The monopod is the least stable of all types of tripods. This means it is not suitable for shooting with long shutter speeds of a few seconds. Because of their design, these tripods have to rest on the photographer's hands. This will result in blurry pictures at slow shutter speeds.

Still, one reference point is a good way to fix your camera. At least:

  • it is more reliable than shooting by hand;
  • it increases the quality of frames and reduces the load on the photographer. 

For example, the Falcon Eyes MP-18 monopod can hold a camera of up to 8kg. 
Because of its design, this tripod is mobile:

  • it is easy to carry and set up;
  • it does not take up space, in contrast to the more bulky tripod. 

It is suitable for reporters constantly moving from place to place and videographers. Monopods are not originally designed to hold your camera perfectly still.

Alternatives to Traditional Tripods for Photographers

Alternatives to Traditional Tripods for Photographers

A tripod may not always be with you at the right time. Or you just did not decide what tripod to get. Use surrounding objects as a support instead of a tripod. There are several other ways to avoid blurring when using a camera:

  • Good photos come out if you shoot with the camera on the floor. You get an interesting perspective from below and a clear photo without blurring. And you can use slow shutter speeds.
  • It is good to have a point of support nearby. You can lean on a tree, wall, or another suitable object. This way, it will be easier to avoid shakiness.
  • Choose a comfortable pose so that the camera does not move unnecessarily. You can sit down, lie down, or kneel down.
  • Use suitable support for the camera. Any flat, motionless, and preferably clean object will do. You can get better results by putting the camera on a bench. It is a good tip to replace even the best outdoor tripod. You can also use the self-timer in that situation.
  • Carry a small rope to secure your camera. Put a two- to three-meter-long rope in your camera case, it won't take up much space, but it will help secure the camera.
  • In case you have a large lens, put support under it to prevent it from falling down. You can use a camera bag, a rock, a branch, or any other object you can find.
  • If you can not use a tripod, it is important to set the camera correctly. The most important thing in this situation is to set the shutter speed correctly. 

Top tripods and kits

What kinds of tripods are there

The world leader in this business is the Italian Manfrotto brand. An excellent type of this tripod design guarantees ease of use. Go to a specialty camera store and find the perfect combination of tripod and head. Such a comparative analysis in practice is only possible in a store with a large selection of amateur and professional tripods.

Tripods are characterized by attention to every detail, excellent materials, and high-quality price. We have made a comparison table where you can get more information. Read below and make a proper decision.





The best tripods for cameras and camcorders


Manfrotto Nitrotech 612 + GS Twin (MVK612TWINGA)

10 / 10


Manfrotto 190CXPRO4

9.9 / 10



9.2 / 10


Falcon Eyes Travel Line 3600

9.1 / 10

The best tripods for smartphones


GreenBean Videocraft 418

9.7 / 10


Manfrotto Mkcompactadv (Compact Advanced)

9.6 / 10


Rekam QPod S-300

9.0 / 10

The best table tripods


Joby TelePod Pro Kit

9.7 / 10



9.6 / 10


Falcon Eyes TablePod 107

8.9 / 10

The best tripod monopods


Manfrotto MVMXPROA42W

9.9 / 10


GreenBean HDV Elite-517С

9.7 / 10


Falcon Eyes MP-J1116C

9.5 / 10



8.9 / 10


GoPro AFAEM-001

8.5 / 10

All of the above tips should be related to your goals and intentions. So before deciding what tripod to get, determine what you want to achieve with your tripod, where you often take pictures, and what your main purpose is. 

It will help you choose which features will be useful and which ones will be unnecessary. And, consequently, allow you to make a successful purchase. With which you can make a lot of beautiful work. Contact Portfoliobox and we'll help you make your masterpieces famous around the world.


How much should you spend on a tripod?

You can spend from 100$ to 200$. Don't skimp on the tripod. Otherwise, two things are bound to happen to you. A capricious tripod will take so long to get into the correct position that you'll lose interest in taking pictures. And then you will understand that on top of the $30 you've already spent, you should add another $70 and buy a "normal" tripod.

What is the best height for a tripod?

If you mainly shoot portraits, the recommended maximum tripod height is 1.5 to 1.7 m. For all other subjects, choose a tripod height that allows you to locate comfortably on the other side of the camera.

How long do tripods last?

It all depends on how carefully you use it. The optimal period is up to 5 years. In case of breakage or defects, you can contact customer service. 

What is the allowable load for tripods?

If you need to decide which tripod for your phone is best, 400-500 grams is enough. This figure includes a safety margin, which will help the construction to withstand inaccurate movements and accidental bumps. For compact cameras with mirrorless design, 1.5 kg will be enough. Amateur DSLRs and camcorders load up to 2.5-3 kg.

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