Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tripod


Gear Focus

Mar 15, 2021

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You're $30 tripod from BestBuy has a broken lock on and has become useless. Typing "good tripods" into google is not the answer. There are factors to consider when choosing a Tripod. Let's be real... There are way too many options with all different price points out there when it comes to tripods. We're going to give you the essential factors that your tripod should include to best tailor your creative needs. So ask yourself, How heavy should it be? What height do you need it to reach? How much are you willing to spend? Are you considering buying new or used? Before making your selection, use this article as a quick checklist. Tripod Height & Weight  Weight is a significant factor to consider when choosing a tripod. You do not want your tripod to be too heavy. Why? Because you will find yourself leaving it at home, rather than taking it with you on the road. When considering your options, don't make the mistake of buying a tripod that can only support a few pounds and is not made for heavy camera equipment. At some point, the whole thing will collapse and destroy the camera and the lens. To prevent this, ensure that the tripod you want to buy can support at least 1.5 times more than your camera's total weight and your heaviest lens. Do not forget that you will apply pressure on your camera, add larger lenses, and flash or battery grip, which adds to the weight. Buying a tripod that matches your height so that once you put your camera on a tripod, the viewfinder will be at your eye level. It's OK if it goes higher than your eye level because you can always adjust the legs to be shorter. However, if it is much below your eye level, you will find yourself bending all the time. If you are buying a tripod with an attached head, you want the head's tip to be on your jaw level. If you consider choosing to buy a modular tripod with a separate head, make sure that the legs end approximately on your shoulder level. Don't forget that this is another thing you will be carrying along with your gear. Therefore, you should make sure it is foldable at your desired height for easy travel.

 Is Material Important?

It is important to consider Material when Choosing a tripod.  The lightest tripods are made of carbon-fiber material, extremely durable, stable, and do not rust. While carbon-fiber is the best material for a tripod, it, unfortunately, comes with a high price tag. The next best construction material is aluminum, which is heavier than carbon fiber. You might be considering choosing the cheapest option out there. However, the cheapest tripods are made of aluminum today. You can also find tripods made of stainless steel, but those are generally used for video equipment and are too heavy for regular use. Keep in mind that carbon fiber legs are between 3 and 4 pounds. However, aluminum legs can be between 5 and 6 pounds and heavier, depending on the size and weight they can support.


When selecting a tripod or a tripod head, make sure to support as much weight as the tripod legs can. The three most common types of tripod heads available in the market are Pan-Tilt head, Ball-Head, and Gimbal Head. The pan-tilt head is the most common; it has a single handle that controls horizontal movement of the camera or dual handles that control horizontal and vertical movements. Ball- head has only one control that loosens or tightens the grip. It is a very flexible head that operates smoothly while the camera or lens is securely tightened in place. This type of head is straightforward to use, does not require constant tightening every time the camera moves and can be adjusted to face any direction.

Other Options

New Tripods can be expensive. Good tripod systems can cost over $1,000. However, other alternative options might meet your creative needs. Monopods are a one-legged option that sports photographers use.  This alternative option allows for much more movement while adding some stability when using the longer heavy telephoto lenses. It can also be a good choice for travel as they’re easy to carry, and places that limit tripod use will often allow a monopod.

Bottom Line

Tripods are important because they give you the many options you need to get the highest quality image. When you choose a tripod that fits your needs, make sure you know how to operate it successfully. You can easily damage your camera and lens if you do not know how to operate a tripod properly or if the tripod system is cheap and unstable. While comparing different tripods, it is wise to think of worst-case scenarios and make plans to buy a tripod that you are certain will do the job you want. Do not just go for the most fancy, or choose a brand name you are familiar with and hope for the best. Patience is important! It takes more than a couple of trials and errors to find a tripod that easily fits into your photography style.

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