12 Best Tripods for DSLRs in 2018
Whether you are a seasoned DSLR veteran with years of experience behind the shutter or just getting started, there are certain accessories you will always want on hand when taking photos. A tripod is one of them as it can turn a shaky photo into a masterpiece or allow you to take pictures that would otherwise be impossible to pull off.
Tripods have also come a long way from their beginnings as you’ll quickly find out. Some are tough enough to drive nails while other are small enough to fold up and pop into a pocket. Regardless of its size, the best tripod for DSLR use won’t break the bank, but you will need to consider a few factors before picking one up.
Top 12 Tripods for DSLRs Comparison Table
|Design||Name||Head Style||Maximum Height||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Rangers 57” Ultra Compact and Lightweight Aluminum Tripod||Ball||56”||4.7|
|2. RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod||Pan/Tilt||19”||4.6|
|3. Magnus VT-4000 Professional High Performance Tripod System||Fluid||59”||4.5|
|4. Vanguard VS-82 Table Top Tripod||Pan||10.25”||4.5|
|5. JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom||Pan/Tilt||12.5”||4.5|
|6. ZoMei Z818 Light Weight Heavy Duty Portable Magnesium Aluminium Travel Tripod Come||Ball||65”||4.5|
|7. Sony VCT-R640 Lightweight Tripod||Pan||56”||4.5|
|8. Manfrotto MVK500AM Lightweight Fluid Video System||Fluid||60”||4.4|
|9. ZOMEI Z699 Magnesium Aluminum Alloy Travel Camera Tripod||Ball||58”||4.4|
|10. Camera Tripod, K&F Concept Aluminum Tripod TM2324 62 Inch||Ball||62”||4.4|
|11. AmazonBasics 50-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag||Pan/Tilt||50”||4.3|
|12. Flexible Tripod for DSLR||Ball||12”||4.2|
For our list, we chose two of the most popular kinds of tripods with full-size and table top. Consumers that need a quick and easy solution against shaky hands will want to consider a table top or pocket tripod. These can come in several different styles, but always stay between 10” – 20” for the most part. Some are compact enough to be taken anywhere, while others may require a bit more room depending on their construction.
As for full-sized tripods, they can go anywhere from 30” to over 60” and are ideal for professionals that need something stable for all types of terrain. The materials the legs are made from is equally as important with this style considering long legs are more prone to damage over time. Aluminum is a popular lightweight choice, but not as light as carbon fiber, which in turn is not as tough as aluminum or other composites. Consider the weather as well, some types of metal head up quickly outdoors or could rust if not cleaned properly afterward.
Once you settle on the height you need, it’s time to think about the heads used on the best tripod for DSLR cameras. There are close to a half-dozen styles, but most fall into one of the categories we’ve listed below.
- Pan/Tilt – For decades, this was the most popular style of head for camera tripods, DSLR or otherwise. It’s recognizable by the handles which twist and lock into place when you find the position you desire. They are incredibly easy to use, and perfect for beginners although not what you’d want for sports or fast action shots.
- Fluid – This is another head with a handle, but far different from a pan/tilt head. While ideal for photos, this style is perfect for video thanks to the actual liquid or fluid in the head which results in smooth transitions.
- Ball – Ball heads only use knobs instead of levers to give you control over your camera. Their design makes them much easier to tote around, and they can come with dual or tri-controls at the helm. It can be used for any photography and is your best option for an all-around head.
Weight Limit & Locks
When searching for the best DSLR tripod, keep the weight in mind; not the weight of the tripod, but the weight of the camera itself. DSLR’s are not cheap, and the last thing you want to do is end up with a busted lens as you did not heed the weight limit set by the manufacturer. It’s there for a reason, so only pick a tripod that can hold the weight of your camera. If in doubt, bigger is better in case you upgrade down the line.
Tripod locks are another area you need to consider when it comes to safety. Those locks keep your legs at the proper height when extended, so you can imagine what will happen if one goes bad or you don’t have it properly secured. All of our picks have either flip or twist locks with the former being faster to use, but prone to retightening over time. Twist locks can be just as quick once you get the hang of thing and never need to be adjusted.
Top 5 Best Tripods for DSLR Reviews
Manufacturers have been able to take tripods to an all new level thanks to new materials that lighten your load and allow for some interesting designs. The Rangers Ultra Compact Tripod doesn’t break any ground in the design department, but we think you’ll be very impressed by what it can do.
Ranger’s tripod is one that could almost qualify as a table top model despite the fact it has a total height of 57 inches when fully extended. The telescoping legs and pole retract down to a little over 14 inches which makes it ideal for shutterbugs that need something large but don’t have much space to spare. With an aluminum build, it is lightweight as well at under three pounds. It has the tried and true ball head, which provides 360-degree rotation for the perfect shot. Other features to note include a quick release plate, counterweight hook, and a foam grip on one leg.
Ranger’s tripod is an outstanding option for rookies and pros alike. It is compact with a height ranging between 15 inches to 56 inches and comes with the easy to use flip locks, which makes setup a breeze. It can handle up to 26 pounds with relative ease and is available in three different styles.
While our first tripod is large and in charge, this one is a quarter of the size but just as sturdy. RetiCAM’s table top tripod uses the old-school tilt/pan head and is one of the more portable options on our list with a detracted height of only 10 ¾ inches.
Table top tripods are not going to work for everyone as you are limited by what you can do to a degree. In this case, you will also have to deal with an old-school head considering it has a pan/tilt plate up top. It’s still very sturdy given its stature as it has 20mm aluminum legs with large flip locks for ease of use. The max height for the unit is 19 inches, and while it only weighs 1.5 pounds, it can handle up to a 6-pound DLSR camera. Not too shabby given its size.
The RetiCAM Table top Tripod is worth a look if you need something simple in your arsenal that won’t eat up much space. It comes with a little bag and has all the standard features you’d want from an entry-level model although the tilt and pan head locks don’t feel as durable as we’d like.
As the name implies, the Magnus VT-4000 Professional Tripod System is built for consumers that need something that stands head and shoulders above the rest. We’re not just talking about the height, but the build quality as this one is likely to still be in use long after others have bitten the dust.
Quality tripods are not cheap, and some can cost as much as a DSLR camera. In the case of the Magnus VT-4000, you’re getting a Pro model tripod that won’t break the bank but has features only found on high-end models. That’s due in part to the fluid head which is what you’ll want if you shoot a lot of videos as it provides you with smooth transitions and tracking. It can deal with larger cameras up to 8.8 pounds and has a fixed counter balance to keep things steady. If you’re interested in tech specs, the VT-4000 has fixed pan and tilt drag to go along with a +20/-25mm slide range and a tilt angle of +90/-60 degrees.
This tripod allows you to go from 27.6 inches to 59 inches with its flip lock system and we like the ball feet on this model as well. If you need a bit more height, the VT-3000 give you a couple of extra inches but will only support up to 6.6 pounds.
This one may not be the fanciest tripod we’ve ever seen, but it is certainly an option for the best tripod for DSLR use. The main thing that sets the Vanguard VS-82 apart from the rest of the crowd is its size although you will have to make do with the classic style head.
The Vanguard VS-82 is definitely a table top model as it only measures 9” when folded. When you extended it for use, you’ll get 10.25inches of total height which makes it one of the smallest options around. While tiny, it’s made from sturdy aluminum which makes it incredibly strong given the short legs and neck. The top handle, and twists are all made from plastic while the feet will stay put due to their non-slip nature. As for the head, it’s a two-way pan head, but you cannot tilt it forward.
The size and style may rule some consumers out on the VS-82 if they need a more professional setup for their camera. Despite its size, it can still handle a relatively large DSLR at up to 5.5 pounds and is one to consider if you need a small but stable solution in your kit bag.
Now we are going to show you the funkiest tripod around with the GorillaPod from JOBY. You may have seen this style and wondered how it would hold up with your DSLR. Well, we’re pleased to say you will be thrilled with this one and it’s built to handle bigger cameras up to 6.6 pounds.
This version of JOBY’s famous GorillaPod is created just for DSLR cameras, so it’s thicker and sturdier than others. We chose the bundle which comes with 360-degree panning to keep your shots steady and smooth. It has a full height of around 11 – 12 inches but that all depends on how you use it. The legs are what make it unique as you can wrap this tripod around a fence post, bike frame or hang it upside down from a tree branch; this allows you to get creative in the field (or at home) and take shots you normally wouldn’t be able to handle.
Obviously, the style of the GorillaPod won’t work if you need something tall or traditional. That said, we feel anyone that takes photos on a regular basis may want to consider the JOBY SLR Zoom as it’s an excellent piece of equipment to have on hand when tough shots come into play.