No one likes shaky footage, but choosing the right tripod can be tough. Some questions to ask: how tall? How heavy? And do you need to pan while shooting video? In general, smooth panning is one of the biggest differentiators in price as it requires an expensive, liquid head. Outside of this specific use, there isn’t a tripod on this list that won’t work for most situations, especially photography. The real question becomes more logistical: how much weight do you want to carry? How steady do you need your tripod to be? And how much are you willing to spend? These tripods all deliver in spades.
Here are our top 10 tripods from the most expensive to the least.
1. Manfrotto Fluid Video Tripod
For those who are shooting video and can’t settle for less than the smoothest, the Manfrotto Fluid Video Tripod is the only way to go. Not only is Manfrotto a brand renowned for its durability, strength, and long-lasting build quality, the pans on this thing are liquid smooth.
Now make no mistake, this tripod isn’t for everyone. It’s very heavy and unless you’re shooting video, there’s just no reason to have this much weight to lug around just to keep your shots steady. For those who need smooth titles and pans, however, it can’t be beat.
- The ultimate for smooth pans in video
- Extremely hard to knock over, incredibly stable
- Allows one to adjust their camera and lenses with zero shake
- Reasonably compact when packed up
- Extremely pricey
- The locking lever for the shoe gets in the way of one’s camera
- Very heavy (around 15 pounds)
- Awkward and time-consuming to set up
2. Vanguard Alta Pro Tripod
This is a high quality tripod with a unique feature: the ability to shoot portrait (meaning the camera is oriented vertically). Boasting a great height range, an included carrying case, and a lightweight, this is a versatile tripod that will keep photographers happy. It also offers videographers a unique way to work; if you’re a director into dutch angles or other off-the-beaten-path cinematography, this tripod offers unique flexibility, durability, and stability at a decent price.
- One can shoot portrait or landscape
- Lightweight but reported as stable
- Great height range
- Includes free bag
- Some users report poor durability
- A few users had issues with the grip not locking
- One user reported an issue with the leg-locking mechanism
- Users report tripod may only last for two to three years of heavy use
3. Fancierstudio Pro Video Camera Tripod
For the budget-minded user who still wants smooth pans and solid durability, look no further than the FancierStudio Pro Video Camera Tripod. It boasts a built-in bubble for making your shots nice and even, a quick release system that makes removing your camera easy and it’s praised by its users as a great deal. One minor quibble: the feet lack spikes. This makes outdoor shooting slightly less stable, but for most situations, rubber feet work just fine.
Price: $119.99 (48 percent off MSRP)
- Built-in bubble for leveling
- Quick release system allows speedy camera removal
- Black double-stage aluminum is sturdy
- Praised by users as a good deal
- No spikes on feet for slippery surfaces
- Some users had issues with quality of tripod head
- Not as smooth as other tripods
- One user had an issue with the bottom legs spreading
4. Zomei Lightweight Travel Tripod
The Zomei Lightweight Travel Tripod is attractive, portable and even doubles as a monopod. While it won’t give one the ability to easily pan smoothly (it has a ball head and these mounts tend to be a bit on the un-smooth side), every other aspect of this tripod rocks. It’s lightweight and able to hold even a heavy camera and lens sturdily. On top of that, it includes a nice and well-cushioned case. For moving about the world with a tripod, the Zomei is hard to beat.
Price: $105.99 (54 percent off MSRP)
- Can double as a monopod
- Users praise build quality and low weight
- Case is nice and well-cushioned
- Holds even heavy lens sturdily
- Some users had issues with the durability after a year
- One user had an issue with the ball head breaking
- One user had an issue with a screw joint
- Some users say it’s not as sturdy as they’d like
5. Magnus Video Tripod
With some minor caveats, the Magnus Video Tripod is the way to go for cinematographers looking for smooth pans on a budget. Here’s the kicker: it’s not very tall, and is only suitable for users five foot eight inches and shorter. Otherwise, it’s praised as a dope deal for having an excellent quality fluid head. It’s capable of holding heavy cameras with big lenses and is lightweight enough to carry around. Plus, it includes a level to make your shots nice and even.
- Praised as a good value for having a fluid head
- Can hold heavy lenses and camera gear
- Durable and allows for smooth panning
- One user claimed the tripod couldn’t be made level
- Fluid head does not detach from tripod
- Does not get to be very tall, not ideal for users above 5’8″
- One user said head was flimsy and stiff
6. Dolica Ball Head Tripod
The Dolica Ball Head Tripod offers great value to photographers who need a tall tripod that’s sturdy, stable, and light enough to carry around. It’s not good for video work (ball heads generally are not), but for photogs, the quick release plate and bubble level make this a formidable three-legged bargain.
- 62 inches tall and supports up to 13.2 lbs
- Ballhead, quick release plate, and bubble level
- Sturdy and stable yet light enough to carry
- Quick release plate means quick camera removal
- One user had a loose leg after a month
- Not good for video work
- Some say it was flimsy
- One user had issue with camera shake
7. Joby GorillaPod Flexible Tripod
The Joby GorillaPod is for a very certain kind of user, namely one who is willing to put their camera well, wherever it can grab on. This tripod has legs that can curl as you see fit to grab around things like bannisters, branches, and ladders- basically anything its legs can wrap around. It’s really only suitable for photography (or videography if one doesn’t want to move the camera). That said, Casey Neistat, the famous vlogger, uses a GorillaPod to hold his camera for a selfie shot. For conventional filmmakers, it’s not the right choice, but for photographers and those looking for strange angles, it’s a versatile and interesting choice that’s easy to pack, and won’t break the bank.
- Strong, durable and flexible
- Can attach safely to wide variety of objects
- Praised as reliable for phones and small cameras
- Highly portable due to small size
- Very short, one must attach it to an object
- Some users had issues with the mount fitting
- A few users had issues with strength, some may opt for the larger GorillaPod
- One user had issues with the joints cracking
8. Albott Travel Tripod
For those looking for a convenient solution, the Albott Travel Tripod is affordable, small, and even includes a monopod. It can get to a height of 70 inches and carries up to 8.8 pounds. Another bonus, the tripod has a hook on the bottom. This means you can more easily stabilize it while keeping your photography bag in a safe, visible place (hanging underneath your camera). For those on a budget who need a small tripod with a build-in monopod, the Albott Travel Tripod is an affordable way to go.
Price: $45.99 (54 percent off MSRP)
- Praised as being a great value
- 70 inches and carries up to 8.8lbs
- Includes monopod
- Includes carry handle and flip locks for leg height adjustment
- Some users had issues with durability
- One user felt weight was too low
- One user found swivel head wobbly
- Some said monopod was extremely cheap
9. Amazon Basics Lightweight Tripod
For those on a budget, the Amazon Basics Lightweight Tripod delivers a shocking amount of value for the cost. Offering a quick release plate, two different bubble levels to get things nice and even, and a lightweight, this tripod may not have one shooting liquid smooth pans, but for the price, it’s a bargain.
- Quick release plate allows rapid removal
- Three way head makes camera movement easy
- Two different bubble levelers makes it easy to get the right pitch
- Light and easy to carry
- Some cameras articulating screens can’t be opened due to its structure (Nikon D5000)
- Some users had issues with center tube being shaky
- No instructions provided
- Construction isn’t heavy duty
10. LimoStudio Camera Tripod
The Limostudio Camera Tripod offers users even more affordable bang for their buck. It’s lightweight and easy to carry with a quick release plate allowing for rapid removal. Boasting double stage aluminum alloy, it’s built to last and praised by users. Another perk with this tripod: it includes a phone mount, so you can use your iPhone to shoot, no problem.
- Double aluminum legs are lightweight and strong
- Includes iPhone mount so you can shoot with your phone with no extra accessories
- Multiple bubble levelers make stabilization simple
- Extremely low cost
- One user complained of stability when tripod was fully extended
- Some users found it shorter than expected
- Can’t hold a heavy camera with a heavy lens
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