Need the best tripod for your camera? Angela Nicholson and the AP team pick the finest supports from Manfrotto, Benro, Vanguard, Peak Design, Gitzo and more, with options for all budgets.
Anyone who has been taking photos for long enough will sing the virtues of having a good tripod by your side. Providing rock-steady support for pin-sharp pictures, a tripod opens up all sorts of shooting opportunities that simply aren’t possible when working hand-held. You may want to introduce smooth sideways panning movements, or use ultra-long shutter speeds that would defeat even the most advanced stabilisation system. Alternatively, you may be a video creator, and need a support for locked-off shots. In these cases and more, a tripod is what you want.
Tripods often see use in still life photography or macro photography, where sharpness is essential, and careful composition is paramount. Similarly, those who are well-versed in landscape photography will inform you that a tripod is an essential piece of kit for capturing those golden moments in all their glory.
If you’re wondering how to choose the best tripod, it’s mostly a matter of weighing up size, stability, features and price. How heavy your setup is will dictate how strong a tripod you need, and the specifics of what you shoot may mean you require certain features. For instance, some tripods can convert to a monopod for those moments you need to be more nimble. Others are designed to be able to put the camera incredibly close to the ground in order to shoot tiny subjects and macro shots.
We’ve mostly focused on photography tripods in this guide, but many of the options here will also work well for video (check out our guide to the best cameras for video if you’re crafting a vlogging setup). Tripods tend to be constructed from one of two materials: carbon fibre (strong and lightweight, but expensive) or aluminium (cheaper, and able to take a kicking). We’ve included both types in this guide.
Whilst the primary need for most will be to use the tripod with your camera, whether that’s mirrorless camera or a DSLR, you can also use a tripod as a support for any additional lighting, or accessories you may need, such as a flashgun, or reflector. If you’re looking for a tripod for your smartphone, have a look at our guide to camera phone tripods.
Need a quick recommendation? Here’s our quickfire list of the best tripods to buy in 2023, along with links to the best prices:
- Best tripod for photography: Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS – check price
- Best premium tabletop tripod: Benro Tablepod Flex Kit – check price
- Best multi-function tripod: Benro MeFoto RoadTrip Pro Carbon Fibre Tripod – check price
- Best travel tripod: Peak Design Travel Tripod – check price
- Best budget tripod for mirrorless: Vanguard VEO 3GO 235AB – check price
- Best large tripod: Kingjoy SolidRock C85 tripod – check price
- Best premium tripod: Gitzo GK1555T-82TQD Traveller Tripod Kit – check price
- Best tripod for landscapes: 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 – check price
- Best tripod for macro: Manfrotto 190 Go! – check price
- Best workhorse tripod: Manfrotto 190XPro4 Tripod – check price
- Premium travel tripod: Gitzo GT1542 Mountaineer Series 1 – check price
- Best video tripod: 3 Legged Thing Legends Tommy Tripod – check price
- Cheapest tripod: Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod – check price
Continue reading to find out why we’ve chosen these as the best tripods you can buy…
Best tripod for photography: Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS
Price: $499 / £499
A recent tripod that earned a full five stars in our review, the Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS is a large carbon fibre model that’s ideal for landscape, wildlife and macro photography. It’s a little bigger and bulkier than other tripods on this list, with its 2.6kg (5 pounds,11 ounces), so if you’re looking for a compact option for travel then you may want to scroll on. However, the sheer versatility that this Vanguard tripod offers is absolutely top-end. The three legs can be set at independent angles for dealing with uneven terrain, including basically flat to the ground, and the central column can be set to basically any angle the user desires.
We also appreciated the supplied BH-250S ball head. It’s got a satisfying weight to it and feels like a premium piece of kit. There’s a friction adjustment control to deal with loads of varying weight, and the dual panning design features a rotating base and a rotating Arca-Swiss type camera clamp.
The Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS is straightforward to use once you’ve worked out what all its dials and knobs do. Its stability is rock-solid enough for basically any photographic setup you can imagine.
Read our Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS review.
Best premium tabletop tripod: Benro Tablepod Flex Kit
Price: $159 / £140
A tabletop tripod option, this versatile camera support comes in a kit with both rigid and flexible legs that allow it to be creatively positioned in all sorts of ways. While it’s clearly designed principally for those using a smartphone, it is very light weighing only 430g (15 ounces), but perfectly capable of holding a mirrorless camera and lens. In our testing, we even found it held up the full-frame Sony Alpha A7R IV and a 24-105mm f/4 lens without issue.
The Benro Tablepod Flex Kit is highly versatile. The flexible arms can also be attached to the legs to allow for the use of additional accessories like lights or a microphone, making it a great choice for video creators. Some clips are thrown into the kit to help with attaching the bendy legs to poles or branches, and the tripod also converts to a selfie stick. All in all this is a surprisingly fully featured package for a tabletop tripod.
Read our Benro Tablepod Flex Kit review.
Best multi-function tripod: Benro MeFoto RoadTrip Pro Carbon Fibre
Price: $299 / £139
Benro bills the MeFoto RoadTrip Pro as a 6-in1 tripod, which might raise concern that it’s a jack-of-all trades and master of none, but it’s actually a very capable travel tripod with a maximum height of 152.5cm and 1.5kg (3 pounds, 4.9 ounces) weight. Two of its other functions include transforming into a monopod or a mini tripod, both of which are genuinely useful. It also comes with a smartphone clamp that fits in the head for when you’re not using your main camera.
If you want to save a bit of cash and you don’t mind carrying the extra 270g (9.5 ounces) Benro also makes an aluminium version of the MeFoto RoadTrip Pro tripod that’s available for around $175 / £119.
Best travel tripod: Peak Design Travel Tripod
Price: $649/£599 (carbon fibre), $379/£329 (aluminium)
The price of the carbon fibre version of the Peak Design Travel Tripod is enough to make you choke on your coffee, but it is very good, and at 1.27kg (2 pounds,12 ounces) it’s 290g (10ounces) lighter than the aluminium version. That doesn’t sound like much, but you can tell the difference even when you’re carrying it in a fully-laden backpack. Nevertheless, the price of the aluminium version makes it the most attractive tripod from Peak Design, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Both tripods have 5-section legs, extend up to 152.4cm in height, have a minimum height of 14cm and can support a load of up to 320oz/9.1kg. There’s also an unusual (but effective) integrated ball head. This can be replaced with a standard one using the Universal Head Adapter, although this will push up the price even further.
Peak Design opted for an unusual shape for the tripod’s 5-section legs but it means it’s very slim when folded down, so it slips easily into a drinks bottle pocket and is just 39.1cm long. It’s also very stable for a travel tripod and can even deliver sharp long exposures when a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is mounted on a mirrorless camera.
Budget tripod for mirrorless: Vanguard VEO 3GO 235AB
Price: $129 / £129
This five-section aluminium tripod is ideally suited for a mirrorless camera setup. While it weighs just 1.24kg (2 pounds, 11 ounces) and folds down to a slimline 33cm in length, it can still reach a pretty decent maximum height of 136cm. Other tripods go higher, but with tilting screens more or less ubiquitous, it’s a lot less essential than it used to be for a camera to reach eye level on a tripod.
As we found in our testing, out in the field the Vanguard VEO 3GO 235AB works well. It’s quick to set up, owing to the fact that all five locks on a leg can be undone in a single twist. We appreciated how large and user-friendly the controls are for such a small tripod, and its broad compatibility scores it plenty of points – we tried a bunch of Arca-Swiss plates and L-brackets with the camera clamp, and it accepted them all.
Read our Vanguard VEO 3GO 235AB review.
Best large tripod: Kingjoy SolidRock C85
Price: $693 / £449
It may be a pricey proposition, but the Kingjoy SolidRock C85 tripod mightily impressed us when we gave it a full review. Reaching a whopping maximum height of 163.8cm, this four-section carbon fibre tripod is a newbie to the UK photo accessory market, and is one of the biggest supports on the block weighing 2.65kg (5 pounds,13 ounces). A useful levelling base with no fewer than four bubble levels can be controlled using a large twist lock in the centre, and is a godsend for capturing landscapes on uneven ground.
Stability is in general very impressive. We tried it out using a full-frame camera with attached battery grip and a 100-400mm zoom, and it had no problems at all. If your setup isn’t that beefy, this may be overkill for you, but it’s a hugely impressive tripod for those who need this level of support.
Read our Kingjoy SolidRock C85 review.
Best premium tripod: Gitzo GK1555T-82TQD Traveller Tripod Kit
Price: $719 / £549
This luxurious travel tripod has carbon fibre legs with 5 sections. This means it can be packed down to just 35.5cm in length yet it has a maximum shooting height of 148.4cm. It comes with a short centre column section that can be swapped out for the standard one to enable low-level shooting
The kit includes a GH1382TQD Center Ball Head Series 1 Traveller. This is the slimmest head in Gitzo’s professional range and the combined weight with the legs is 1.42kg (3 pounds, 2 ounces).
Gitzo rates the kit’s maximum payload at 10kg (22 pounds). Furthermore, Gitzo recommends focal lengths up to around 135mm with 200mm as a maximum. This tripod is built to last and comes with an extended 5-year warranty (when registered).
Best for landscapes: 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0
Price: $279 / £224
All three of the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 carbon fibre legs can be unscrewed and converted into mini tripod with the addition of the option Vanz footwear (£53). There is also an option to attach one of the legs to the centre column to create a monopod or a microphone boom.
The Billy 2.0 can bear a maximum load of 18kg (39 pounds,10 ounces) but weighs just 1.57kg (3 pounds, 7 ounces) with the AirHead 2.0 ball head. 3 Legged thing also sells the Billy 2.0 legs-only for, but the head is a worthwhile inclusion.
Thanks to the chunky rubberised leg lock grips, and the fact that they are close together when the tripod is collapsed, the Billy 2.0 can be deployed quickly. It extends to a maximum height of 1.66m and folds down to 45.5cm in length.
Best for macro: Manfrotto 190 Go!
Price: $159 / £149
Manfrotto’s aluminium 190 Go! (MT190GOA4) can be picked up at a great price. It weighs 1.66kg (3 pounds, 10 ounces), packs down to 45cm in length, has a maximum working height of 152cm and has a recommended maximum payload of 7kg (15pounds, 6 ounces) although it can handle weight up to 15kg (33 pounds, 1 ounces).
Thanks to its M-lock system which requires just a 90° turn to unlock and lock the legs, the tripod can be setup in seconds. These twist locks also have no protruding parts, which means the 190 Go! Slips into a bag easily.
The Manfrotto 190 Go! also features a centre column capable of rotating through 90° into horizontal orientation, making it ideal for flat-lays and macro photography. And there’s an Easy Link connector. This enables an accessory arm to be attached to the shoulders of the tripod to hold a light or similar accessory, such as a power bank.
Read our Manfrotto 190 Go! review.
Best workhorse: Manfrotto 190XPro4
Price: $386 / £269 (with XPRO ball head)
The Manfrotto 190XPro4 (MT190XPRO4) is a 4-section aluminium tripod is available to buy by itself or in a kit with the excellent XPro Ball Head with 200PL plate for £269 or the X-Pro 3-Way Head for £289.
It’s a solid and dependable tripod a maximum working height of 175cm and its folds down to 57cm. The recommended maximum payload is 7 kg (15 pounds, 6 ounces), but it can also cope with weights up to 15kg (33 pounds, 1 ounces).
Like the Manfrotto 190 Go!, the 190XPro4’s centre column is mounted through a pivoting section that enables it to be tilted through 90° to horizontal orientation. That’s useful for top-down shooting and copy work. There’s also an Easy Link connector for mounting an accessory arm.
Premium travel tripod: Gitzo GT1542 Mountaineer Series 1
Price: $719 / £659
The design of Gitzo’s carbon fibre Mountaineer tripods combine rigidity with low weight, portability and robustness. They are for landscape photographers who like to walk to their shooting locations. With all that in mind, the 4-section GT1542 weighs 1.28kg (2 pounds, 13 ounces) (legs only), has a maximum height of 159cm with the centre column up, 135cm with it down, and a minimum height of 15cm. It can also support loads of up to 10kg (22 pounds).
The GT1542 is also available as a kit with the GH1382QD Center Ball Head for $1079/£999. Gitzo states that the focal length should be limited to 200mm or less but recommends 135mm or less. Like the other Gitzo tripod mentioned, this comes with an extended 5-year warranty.
Designed for video tripod: 3 Legged Thing Legends Tommy
Price: $679 / £640
3 Legged Thing’s beefy Legends Tommy carbon fibre tripod comes without a head or a centre column but it has a maximum height of 162cm, weighs a substantial 2.59kg (5 pounds, 11 ounces) and measures 73cm when it’s folded down. However, it can carry a staggering 60kg (132 pounds, 4 ounces) load. It means you get a very stable shooting platform that’s ideal for hefty cameras when shooting stills or video.
The Tommy is supplied with a flat plate and a 75mm bowl. This means it can be used with either a regular type of tripod head or a levelling head for video-shooting. It also comes with a 5-year warranty against manufacturing defects.
Cheapest: Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod
Price: $24 / £24
Provided you’re not planning to use a long, heavy lens, the Manfrotto Pixi is a useful little support that’s perfect for low-level shots and won’t break the bank. What’s more, as it weighs just 190g (6.7 ounces), you won’t mind slipping it in your camera bag ‘just in case’ and it can cope with loads to 1kg (2 pounds, 3 ounces), which is enough for many camera and lens combinations.
The Manfrotto Pixi has a simple design with an integral ball head that’s released with the press of a button. The legs are also shaped so that when they are closed, the Pixi creates a comfortable handle that’s useful if you’re shooting video.
Text by Angela Nicholson, with contributions from Joshua Waller and Jon Stapley.
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