Production & Filmmaking
August 01, 2021

The Best Tripods for Every Type of Video Creator

By Josh Edwards 14 min read

Highlights

  • In this guide, we give you options on the best tripod for a variety of different video creator roles
  • We give you the essential factors you need to be considering when buying: stability and strength, size and weight
  • We then give you multiple options for different video creator types, including travel vloggers, heavy-duty camera operators and those on a budget

In a world of amazingly smooth in-built stabilization and state-of-the-art gimbals, you’d be forgiven for thinking that camera tripods are obsolete. Who needs one of those ancient contraptions suited more to medieval times than the 2020s?

But that’s the thing about tripods. No matter how good your in-house stabilization is and no matter how much money you spent on that fancy new gimbal, you simply cannot beat a good, simple, trusty tripod. They refuse to go away. In fact, now more than ever, I find myself using a tripod in all of my work! 

Of course, as with every other type of filmmaking gear, there are a million different options available to you, covering the whole spectrum from small to big, from cheap to (eye-wateringly) expensive, good to bad. So, what’s the best tripod out there for you? Whether you’re looking for the best travel tripod, the best budget tripod or the best tripod for DSLR users―we’re here to break it all down for you.

Things to consider

Before you make your purchase, there are a few key things to consider when searching for the best tripod. Ensure that you know everything about these factors before you decide to buy.

Stability and strength

If you’re going to be putting your rather expensive and sometimes rather heavy camera system on 3 legs, potentially standing up in strong winds or around lots of people, you’d better make sure the thing is stable. You’ll want to consider the materials it’s made up of. Is it strong? Will it bend or even snap easily? Are there places where you can firmly grip it?

You can find out from the manufacturers (usually just in the product description on a website) the maximum safe payload weight (i.e., how heavy a camera the tripod can carry before losing stability and potentially breaking).

Size 

This one comes down to what you need your tripod for. We’ll dive into various scenarios further on. You need to think long and hard about the various scenarios in which you’ll be using your tripod, as well as how big your camera is and what kind of weight and size you’re prepared to carry around. For example, if you’re documenting a one-week hike up to Everest base camp, taking a big and heavy tripod probably isn’t the best of ideas! (By all means, go ahead and try―we’d love to see the vlog.)

Weight

Already mentioned above, but perhaps the most important. You really don’t want your tripod to inconvenience you. You need it to work with you, not against you. The weight of your tripod is the key to that. Analyzing various materials can really help here, as carbon fiber options are obviously a lot lighter than aluminum (but of course, they cost more too).

The best tripods for...

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a filmmaker) to realize that the above factors are all variable depending on what type of filmmaker you are. Below, we’ve given you some examples of the best tripods out there, tailored to what it is you might be doing.

Going heavy duty 

If you’re working on a documentary of some sort or any other project that requires a bigger, bulkier cinema camera, you’ll need a tripod that can take the heavy payloads―something that’s really sturdy and reliable. Of course, you’ll be sacrificing size and weight factors, but it’s necessary. So, what are our two recommendations for the best tripods when using a cinema camera?

  • Sachtler 4585 Flowtech 75 MS

Material: Carbon fiber

Extended height: 152cm

Folded height: 68cm

Weight: 2.9kg

Maximum payload: 20kg

Find it at B&H

At roughly $1,400 USD just for the sticks, it’s expensive. But you can’t take chances when you’re putting your already-very-expensive cinema camera on top of 3 legs, 150cm off the ground. With a maximum payload of 20kgs, this is one of the best tripods for heavy-duty jobs. While not the most compact, thanks to the carbon fiber material, it’s actually quite lightweight. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come as a full kit, so you’ll be looking to spend even more when it comes to the head.

  • Miller 3783 CX14 Sprinter II

Material: Carbon fiber

Extended height: 169cm

Folded height: 85cm

Weight: 7.2kg

Maximum payload: 14kg

Find it at Adorama

Everything about this screams quality. From the smooth pan and tilt, the beautiful craftsmanship and even the carrying case, this thing is hands down the best heavy-duty camera tripod for those big-budget productions. Easily. Of course, it’s very, very expensive ($4,750 USD), it’s pretty bulky and weighs a lot. Not one for taking up a mountain, which we’ll get onto next...

Getting outdoors

If you’re more of the adventuring type planning to spend a lot of time shooting outdoors, then you’ll be looking for something of a compromise. While you still need the tripod to be stable and strong, it also needs to be compact and lightweight enough for you to take it wherever you’re going. We think we’ve got the perfect 2 recommendations here…

  1. Peak Design Travel Tripod (carbon fiber version)

Material: Carbon fiber

Extended height: 152cm

Folded height: 39cm

Weight: 1.2kg

Maximum payload: 9kg

Find it at Adorama

Peak Design really knocked it out of the park with this one. This tripod is perfect for taking with you on an adventure. It’s super lightweight with its carbon fiber design (just 1.2kg!), and it folds down to just 39cm with the diameter of a water bottle. Despite this, it can take a payload of up to 9kg, which is really quite impressive. This is quite simply the best camera tripod for all your outdoor needs. 

Note that if you’re a videographer, you should bear in mind that this isn’t a fluid-head system; it’s a ball head. To better understand the difference between these 2 types of tripods, check out our post about video tripod tips.

  1. Manfrotto 502AH Video Head and MT055XPRO3 Aluminum Tripod Kit

Material: Aluminum

Extended height: 170cm

Folded height: 61cm

Weight: 2.9kg

Maximum payload: 9kg

Find it at Adorama

While it’s made of aluminum, meaning it’s a little heavier than the carbon fiber Peak Design offering, this Manfrotto tripod has the added benefit of a fluid head for videographers. It may be a little on the heavy side, but it’s really durable and strong―certainly one tripod we wouldn’t hesitate to take into the mountains with us.

Travel vloggers

Similar to the outdoors types, if you’re a travel vlogger on the go, you’ll be needing something that’s really small and compact. There’s the added advantage that you’re most likely using a camera that’s already ticking those boxes―something like a DSLR or mirrorless setup. This means you can go even smaller and lightweight when looking for the best travel tripod. This is essential, seeing as you’ll be packing and moving around a lot!

  1. Manfrotto BeFree Live Lever kit (aluminum)

Material: aluminum

Extended height: 151cm

Folded height: 40cm

Weight: 1.75kg

Maximum payload: 4kg

Find it at Adorama

When it comes to the best travel tripod, this is a great option. I should know―I use it myself. It’s a perfect balance of all the different factors. It’s lightweight enough to carry, sets up quickly, folds down to a great size and can take a payload of up to 4kg. Simply put, I think that it’s the best tripod for DSLR and mirrorless use whenever you’re on the go. There’s an even lighter carbon fiber option, but it’s a lot pricier!

  1. Joby Gorillapod 3K Pro Kit

Material: a combination of rubber, aluminum, plastic

Extended height: 30cm

Folded height (it doesn’t really fold): 30cm

Weight: 0.463kg

Maximum payload: 3kg

Find it at Adorama

This isn’t a classic tripod in the sense that when you compare it to others mentioned here, it can’t extend to great heights. However, it still has 3 legs and if it’s good enough for Casey Neistat to use over the course of 3 years non-stop vlogging, it’s good enough for the rest of us. Casey really pioneered the use of this Gorillapod and showed us why it was so great: its versatility. Along with being really lightweight and compact, the flexible legs can be moved around with ease. This means you can find a place to safely place your camera and shoot no matter where you are in the world. In our view, this is the best lightweight tripod for travellers.

The smartphone shooter

Some of you may sneer, but smartphones are better than ever when it comes to videography nowadays. If you’re looking to up your smartphone shooting game, a tripod can make a lot of difference in terms of stability, as well as being able to film yourself. Here are our recommendations for the best smartphone tripods.

  1. Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod kit

Phone holder included: yes

Extended height: 24.7cm

Closed length: 26cm

Weight: 215g

Maximum payload: 1kg

Find it at B&H

 

We think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than this one. In our mind, it’s the best smartphone tripod because it does the basics so well. The build quality is exceptional (as expected with Manfrotto) and it’s small and robust, making it perfect for taking with you everywhere. You’ll find it comes with a strong, rigid phone holder, ready to go right out the box. 

  1. Joby GripTight PRO 2 Gorillapod

Phone holder included: yes

Extended height: 34cm

Closed length: 34cm

Weight: 282g

Maximum payload: unspecified

Find it at Adorama

Following closely behind Manfrotto’s PIXI Mini, this is essentially the mobile version of Joby’s Gorillapod we mentioned in the travel vlogging section above. It does everything the same, just for a smartphone setup! We especially love the flexible legs that you can wrap around just about anything, providing real versatility for shooting out and about. 

On a budget

If you’re on a budget and just need to buy a simple tripod that’s going to get the job done without damaging your camera, there are plenty of options. In fact, there are so many options that it can all seem a little confusing. We’ve managed to identify two of what we consider to be the best budget tripod options.

  1. Geekoto 77” Tripod system

Material: aluminum

Extended height: 195cm

Folded height: 48cm

Weight: 1.54kg

Maximum payload: 7.9kg

Find it at B&H

The Geekoto 77” may truly be the best budget tripod out there at its very agreeable price sitting below $100 USD. It offers great height (this is a surprisingly tall tripod), a 360-degree panoramic ball head, light enough to carry, strong enough to take a decent payload of nearly 8kg. It can also double up as a monopod, which is a great addition for any project. At this price, you won’t be finding anything better!

  1. Velbon DV-7000N with PH-368 Fluid Head

Material: aluminum

Extended height: 162.5cm

Folded height: 57cm

Weight: 3.47kg

Maximum payload: 6kg

Find it at Adorama

A little more expensive than the Geekoto but still budget-friendly, this Velbon DV-7000N packs a punch, offering to carry up to 6KG with its strong, sturdy aluminum frame. You’d easily be able to get a DSLR or mirrorless system on this with a mic and perhaps even a monitor. By all means, it’s an entry-level tripod, but it’s designed specifically for video and gets the job done for a fraction of the price compared with others mentioned here.

Wrapping up 

So, there you have it: the best tripods on the market for every type of video creator! From the best budget tripod to the best lightweight tripod, the best travel tripod and beyond, we’ve got you covered here.

As you can see, there’s a really wide variety of options available, so remember to use our guide and weigh up the varying factors and how they apply to the job that you need to do. What works for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best tripod for you. Weight, size, stability and strength all combine to create the best tripod that fits your needs.