Photography / Buying Guide

10 Recommended Tripods for Photography

A good-quality tripod is one of the most important purchases you can make for your camera, but with so many new brands and options out there, choosing the right one can be a challenge. Here, we’ve compiled a list of ten great tripods that are sure to offer something for amateurs and pros alike.

Before we get into the list itself, let’s go over some tripod basics that will help you make an informed purchase. 

The first question you need to answer is how much weight does your tripod need to hold? If you shoot wildlife and have a full-sized DSLR with a 400mm lens, you’re going to need a much different tripod than if you shoot with a small compact camera. So you’re going to want a tripod with a load capacity that is more than your heaviest lens-and-body combination.

The next question is, what will your primary use for the tripod be? If you’re a still life or portrait photographer who works in a studio, a lightweight support probably isn’t that important to you. However, if you travel often, size and weight are going to be your main concern. A compact carbon tripod with reverse-folding legs will probably be your best bet.

Manfrotto Compact Advanced Aluminum Tripod

This tripod, available in black or white, is an excellent choice for beginners or for advanced photographers looking for a fairly lightweight (3.1 lb) and versatile all-in-one camera support. It can hold up to 6.6 lb, so it is best used with compact cameras or DSLRs with lightweight lenses. This tripod has a minimum height of 17.5", a maximum height of 65", and folds down to 17.3", making it pretty compact while still extending to be tall enough for most photographers. The attached 3-way pan/tilt head is great for people who shoot stills and videos, as it allows you to make smooth pans and tilts, while also enabling 90° rotation to shoot in portrait orientation. This tripod includes a quick-release plate and a padded carrying bag.

Oben AC-1441 4-Section Aluminum Tripod with BA-111 Ball Head

The AC-1441 can hold up to 11 lb, enough for most DSLR-and-lens combinations. It weighs 3.3 lb and can extend up to 61.6". When its four leg sections are collapsed, it folds down to 21.3" to fit in the included case. This tripod has some convenient features, such as a bubble level and a ballast hook on the center column to add extra weight for added stability. The center column can be split or reversed, making it easy to shoot macro or shots as low as 8.3".  The BA-111 is a simple ball head with one locking lever to control the pan and ball movements. It has an additional four bubble levels, ensuring every shot will be accurately level.

MeFOTO RoadTrip Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod Kit

The RoadTrip Travel Tripod Kit is a popular carbon fiber camera support for many travel photographers. It is lightweight at 3.1 lb and very compact, folding down to just 15.4", due to its reverse-folding five-section legs. With a load capacity of 17.6 lb, the RoadTrip is a very sturdy support that can extend to the same height as the Oben AC-1441—61.6". Another great feature for traveling photographers is that one of the legs can be removed and attached to the center column to make a full-size monopod. The included ball head has separate locks for panning and ball movement, and is Arca compatible, so you can use the included quick-release plate, or most other Arca-style plates. This tripod also has a bubble level, a ballast hook, and includes a carrying case with a shoulder strap.

Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10X Ball Head

If The RoadTrip is still not compact enough for you, the T-025X from Sirui takes compactness even further, with the smallest folded length on this list of only 12.2", while still able to reach a respectable maximum height of 54.5". Weighing just 1.7 lb, this carbon tripod can hold up to 13.2 lb. Like most other travel tripods in its category, it also has reverse-folding legs that fold around the included ball head. The head has separate pan and tilt locks, and includes an Arca-type compatible quick-release plate. A removable center column allows the T-025X to get down to just 4.3". A carabiner attaches to a ring on the center column for adding a weight, and the tripod includes a carrying case.

MeFOTO GlobeTrotter Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod Kit

If you need a compact and lightweight tripod, and you also need a higher load capacity than the previous suggestions, the carbon fiber GlobeTrotter from MeFOTO might be what you need. It can hold up to 26.4 lb, while still maintaining a relatively light weight of 3.7 lb and folded length of 16.1". Its five-section legs can raise it to 64.2" high, and like the RoadTrip, one of the legs converts into a monopod. It also has a ball head with separate pan and tilt locks, an Arca-type compatible quick-release plate, ballast hook, bubble level, and comes with a carrying case.

Oben CT-3581 Carbon Fiber Tripod with BE-126T Ball Head

Oben’s CT-3581 carbon fiber tripod is very similar in its specs to the GlobeTrotter, also holding 26.4 lb, while weighing 3.9 lb, and extending to 67.9". It folds down to 16.9", with a removable leg that converts to a monopod, and a reversible center column for low-angle shots. Unique to the tripods on this list so far, the CT-3581 includes retractable spikes in its rubber feet, making it ideal for both hard and soft shooting surfaces. The BE-126T ball head has separate pan and tilt locks, and includes an Arca-type compatible quick-release plate. A carrying case is included to protect your tripod during travel.

Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Carbon Fiber Tripod

Manfrotto’s travel tripod, the BeFree, is a compact carbon fiber support that holds up to 8.8 lb, and is lightweight at just 2.4 lb. Like the other travel tripods, it has reverse-folding legs, making its folded length 15.75". It extends from 13.4 to 55.9", and unlike many carbon fiber tripods, it utilizes flip locks instead of twist locks. It has a simple ball head with one locking knob for both the pan and tilt movements. A quick-release plate and carrying case are included with the tripod, and it is also available in a kit with an Advanced Travel Backpack. The backpack can hold a DSLR with an attached lens, two additional lenses, a flash and accessories, as well as a 13" laptop, and an expandable side pocket will carry the BeFree tripod.

Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod

An upgrade to a classic line of tripods, Manfrotto’s MT055CXPRO3 is best suited for photographers for whom portability isn’t as important as the extensive features that this support offers. It’s a three-section tripod with a load capacity of 19.8 lb and extends from 3.5 to 66.9", with a folded length of 24". This updated tripod features Quick Power Locks, which increase the tripod's rigidity by 50% compared to its predecessor. Its newly designed center column offers "one-finger" operation, and quickly adjusts to be parallel to the ground for unique angles. It has an Easy Link 3/8"-16 attachment for attaching accessories, such as an LED light or a reflector via a compatible arm. Unlike the previous tripods in this list, the MT055CXPRO3 does not include a head, allowing you to choose your preferred head, or attach one you already own.

Gitzo GT1545T Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod

An updated Traveler tripod from Gitzo, the GT1545T uses Carbon eXact tubing for added strength and rigidity over previous models. It is a 4-section support that extends to 60.2" high and has reverse-folding legs that let it fold down to just 16.7". The compact folded height, combined with its light weight of 2.3 lb, space-saving G-locks, and the high load capacity of 22 lb makes this an ideal travel tripod. An included short center column enables a minimum working height of 8.6" for low-angle work.

Gitzo GT3542L Mountaineer Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod

By far the most heavy-duty and largest tripod on this list, the GT3542L has a 46.3 lb load capacity, making it ideal for photographers who use heavy lenses or large-format cameras. It extends to a maximum height of 70.1", and folds down to 23.2" for transport. Its center column is removable for Ground Level Set, allowing it to get down to just 6.3". The G-Lock Ultra twist locks have internal O-rings, preventing dust, sand, or other particles from getting between the leg sections. There is a ballast hook on the center column, and the mounting platform has a 3/8"-16 mount for attaching a head.

You should now be prepared to choose the tripod that best suits your needs. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to stop by the B&H SuperStore in New York, speak with a sales professional on the telephone at 1-800-606-6969 or contact us online for a Live Chat.

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MT055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod, actually I'd like to talk about the MT055CXPRO4, which is basically the same tripod with a fourth leg section. I absolutley love this tripod, it is the most versatile tripod I own. I love that the center post can be rotated to horizontally. When you shoot a lot of macro, you'd be surprised how often this comes in handy. Granted this is not the most portable tripod, but it is light enough it can easily be carried. I shoot a Mark III with battery pack and heavy lenses. This tripod is more than adequate and easily supports the load. I also own the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Carbon Fiber Tripod and find it useful for road trips and use on trails, but my PRO4 is always in the truck, just in case it is needed. I appreciate quality and Manfrotto tripods are some of the finest on the market. I've had an older model 055 Carbon Fiber tripod for about 8 years and it has never given me one moment of trouble. The only reason I updated to the PRO4 is my older tripod doesn't have the one finger touch to move the post to parallel to the ground and I use this feature more than you'd think. This updated feature on the PRO 4 makes it the ultimate tripod for my use. 


Read your comment online regarding the MT055CXPRO4.  However my question is regarding the BeFree.  I already own a Manfrotto tripod.  Ive had it for years now and love it.  But, its just not cumbersome when I travel and bring it with me.  The BeFree looks promising, though I have several questions, as follows:  

1) The locks to switch the position of the legs are they made out of plastic (concerned that would be a weak spot).  

2) I have a Canon 70D and normally shoot astro photo's with a 24-70mm or 14mm.  Conditions, calm to windy.  Hiking or biking to various locations.  How is the stability?  I know theres sacrifices when going for a lighter and portable tripod.  But is it worth the $200.

Looking forward to your response.  



The locking switches on the tripod are plastic, but I do feel they will hold up for a long time.  I’ve had Manfrotto tripods myself and from customers/colleagues which I’ve seen last many many seasons of rigorous use.

The stability on the BeFree models is good.  It’s a well designed model and Manfrotto’s been designing tripods for decades and they are offering a good all purpose/travel tripod in this model.  If you do happen to find yourself in a windier environment or just feel it needs additional stability, there are ways to weight the tripod down using either sand bags or your gear bag etc to anchor it.  You likely will not see the need for that too often however in my opinion. 

I would suggest you look at the Vanguard VEO Carbon. IMHO, Manfrotto quality isn't what it used to be. I love my 055CX Pro4, but I returned the BeFree as it wasn't stable enough for my D810/15-30VC combo. And I was nervous opening the bottom leg sections on BeFree. Vanguard is replacing my Manfrotto gear - great build quality that doesn't cost as much as a lens and a decent warranty. And unlike the Benfro/MeFoto/Sirui/Oben/Fotopro clones, you get quality leg locks instead of those twisties that fall apart.

B&H has them here:

Post a similar post about monopods as well. thanks

I am rediscovering semi-serious photography after a 40-year absence. Working with two pros, I have been taught the importance of having a good tripod. Sorting through the literally thousands of possible combinations of legs and heads is mind-numbing. I borrowed a Manfrotto 190X with a pistol-grip ball head for a macro workshop. I had to take an Aleve after lugging it around all day. The carbon fiber models seem to be a good solution, but all the reviews say you need to attach weight to the center post for stability. My question is - if you have to carry the additional weight anyway, why not buy a less-expensive, more-stable aluminum tripod? Good article on tripods - just what I was looking for.

You have to carry around a heavy camera bag anyway, and that weight is plenty to add the needed stability to your tripod.  Why carry the extra weight of a heavy tripod when you have the things you need to make a light one stable?

If you're not carrying the tripod far or not moving it much, then a heavier (and cheaper) one is a fine solution.  

It's a good question, and the answer all depends on your personal requirements, finances, etc.

I have two workhorse tripods; one a compact, carbon fiber that weighs a little over 3 pounds (including ball head), folds down to less than 17"  and supports over 17 pounds. I use it primarily for travel / hiking. (It also has a screw-off monopod.) The other is an aluminum 'pod with a geared head that weighs twice as much, doesn't fold down as compactly and supports less weight (but all that I need). It's primarily my studio 'pod.

Anyway, if you need a lightweight tripod, but require additional weight to stabilize it, you can buy empty weight bags that can be filled on-site with sand, water, etc., to provide the stability you need, so you don't have to lug the extra weight around with you. You just have to have a ready source of weighting material to fill the bag(s) with on-site (works in many, if not all, situations).

Triposds Recommended

Good summary of several tripods


An accurate tripod according to your needs is the only answer to get the right one. quality has a lot to do with it, some of them have some problems to extend everyone of the legs or to keep them in the place you need it. Sometimes it becomes useless  and complicated, It is much better to get some references  before shopping. I have own and used a MASTERPRO- I  for more than 25 years and it still works like new. It is a pity they don´t produce it anymore.

Hey, you missed the best tripod around Vanguard ABEO Pro 283CT with GH-300T pistol grip! 

   All good tripods on this list but way too many Manfrotto models.  A friend told me about the tripod he purchased and I had never heard of it but now after seeing it and looking at the specs cannot believe it is not on this list.  It is the Induro CT-213 and the model above it also.  Nice lightweight carbon fiber tripods but they can easily hold up to a super heavy 8x10 view camera :-)  The same with the Induro Ball Heads. Great products that you don't have to sell your house to purchase.  Remember that a great Tripod is forever, it either does it's job or it doesn't. Even if you like Manfrotto you can always put a Manfrotto head on these Induro tripods. The only thing I wish they had was a  bubble level. 

I researched tripods and heads lots recently.  Wanted to get a Manfrotto CF tripod and geared head - for architectural work, mostly interiors.  The Manfrotto legs were very unimpressive, even the newly released models.  Too spindly and rickety for my purposes.  And the geared head, a standard piece among architectural photographers, was clunky.  So I looked at an Induro 5-D head, the  PHQ-1.  It has a known problem or two but otherwise is great.  While checking it out, I fell in love with the Induro tripods.  Surprise!  I ended up buying the biggest, heaviest Induro tripod, even though it would be nothing like a CF Manfrotto.  Now that I've been using the Induro tripod and head for several months, I'm delighted with my choices.  Even though it's Made in China, it seems to be made well.  It certainly works very well.  Some of the Manfrotto gear is just soooo amateur by comparison.  My experience, at least.

Excellent choices especially for me who is shopping for a carbon traveling tripod with a ball head!

One of the basics in selecting a tripod, that wasn't mentioned, is it's height without the center column.  Being 6'8" tall (80"), and frequently working on uneven surfaces, this becomes a issue.  Tripods in the 50 to 66 inch range, don't cut it.  My Gitzo GT3542XLS has plenty of reach and, so far, has handled everything I've asked of it.  I have used shorter tripods, and it doesn't take long for my back/neck to let me know that this is a bad idea.

You are right, height is something to think about. I am 4'10 tall and I need a smaller tripod and light. I am thinking of a monopod.

Seems as if Manfroto bought and paid for this article. Finally, while reading the comments, the Vangard tripood is mentioned. Finest tripod on the market. A little heavy, but stands up to field conditions, rain, snow, wind. Much sturdier than my photo buddy's carbon fiber. Personally, I have no use for the twist leg locks or the pan head that has levers poking me when ever I get within 6 inches of it.

"Seems as if Manfroto bought and paid for this article." Lol, why, because 3 out of the 10 products are this brand? I'd want better than 3/10 if I were Manfrotto. And in case you haven't been into a camera store lately, Manfrotto would be the most popular stocked tripod brand by a long shot so it makes perfect sense to feature more than 1 in this article. 

Can suggest the most stable tripod to hold a 650-1300mm zoom lense for wildlife still photos.

Below are links to recommended tripods for you to consider using with your 650-1300mm lens:

check out Wimberley tripods /gimbal. The only drawback is that you need to level it (2 axis only) and not really designed to mount from the base of the camera. Totally an awesome system for large lens.

I bought a new manfrotto MT055PROX for my real estate work and i broke the center column screw after only 3 weeks on the job. The center column wouldn't lock tight enough and I kept getting movement between shots. My previous 055prob lasted 7 years and except for a broken leg lock it was solid. The new mafrottos are rubbish! I even know another photographer who is a friend who just broke the center column screw on his new manfotto as well!

none of your recomendations seem to help someone who is above average hight *sigh*

Most of these tripods go to nearly 5' or more, and at least one goes up to 6' high. Are you taller than 6' and need a tripod that reaches your eye leve while you're standing up straight? That's really important. *sigh*

I apprecated the tripods article and will save it for I'm in the market for a travel and a studio tripod.  However, it would have been  appreciated if the artcle had included estimated retail prices. When shopping for a tripod I look for the tripod's height, weight (how mch load it will support), material it is made (aluminum or carbon) and price. Your article included those items except price.